As the Memphis Grizzlies approach the All-Star break, they are limping along with both a lack of energy and a lack of direction. After being sent home from the team, making it seem like a trade was imminent, Tyreke Evans is back with the Grizzlies and is trying to knock off some front office-created rust before the week off that is ahead for everyone but Dillon Brooks, who is participating in the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star Weekend. With the team again on an extended losing streak, the free fall down the standings (or climb up the lottery list, depending on your perspective) continues.
What comes next? That’s what we tackle in the latest GBB roundtable. Joining me are GBB Gameday Editor Mark King, GBB Associate Editor Jack Noonan, and GBB Senior Writers McCarty Maxwell and Brandon Abraham.
Tyreke is here for the rest of the season. How would you use him?
JOE MULLINAX (@JoeMullinax)- Sparingly. Sit him on back to backs and play him 25 minutes or so a night. The Grizzlies will use him essentially as they did before, because they must really think they have a shot at keeping him this summer in free agency. I subscribe to the idea that it only take one team to offer more than the Mid-Level Exception (see Randolph, Zach) for Evans to leave, and surely he will command that sort of money from someone, even in a tough market.
MARK KING (@king_producer)- They should use him very carefully, with him only getting 25-30 mins per game. This should allow him to to showcase his skills for other teams and still allow the Grizzlies to lose as many games as they need.
JACK NOONAN (@jnoonan1307)- I would use him sparingly. We all know that it is a shame he’s still here, but now there really isn’t a place for him. The main goal is youth development for this team and Tyreke Evans playing 32 minutes a game for the rest of the season does not help that goal, especially when he is probably leaving after the season. Also, it’ll help the team lose games with him off the court.
BRANDON ABRAHAM (@bcabraham)- The front office put themselves in a tough situation with this one. You don’t want to let Tyreke play 30+ minutes a game and win games for you, but you can’t sit him too long either. I’d probably play him 25-ish minutes a game and hope he doesn’t do too much to hurt the lottery odds.
MCCARTY MAXWELL (@McCartyMaxwell)- I would play him 32 minutes a game and allow him to play like he has all season. Position wise, he should be listed as “scorer”. Let him dominate and hope that he loves his role on the team enough to come back next season.
Which young player has the most to prove the rest of the way?
MULLINAX- For me, it is Dillon Brooks and Wayne Selden Jr. Not because they don’t deserve a role on this roster- they have both shown they can be good rotation players, probably on good teams. The question is, which of them can be a starter on a good team? I am not sure they both can on the wing. Whichever one is best heading in to the offseason will surely dictate some of what Memphis does in the draft and free agency.
KING- Deyonta Davis has the most to prove the rest of the way. He showed flashes last year, but then regressed during summer. He has been in and out of the lineup this year because of various reason and at some points he looks like he doesn’t even want to be on the court playing basketball. For him to be in the long term picture, he has to show that he can rebound on a nightly basis and be able to have a good attitude about the situation.
NOONAN- Ivan Rabb. He is always the player I watch in these games where he earns solid minutes. As Rabb learns the speed of the league, look for him to try and prove himself for next season. It is a crowded frontcourt, but Rabb should be fun to watch these last few months
ABRAHAM- Jarell Martin. He’s played better this season than I anticipated, but with Rabb and Davis both being relative bright spots as well, there is likely not enough room on this roster for all 3 come next season and I think Martin would be the odd man out if a decision had to be made today.
MAXWELL- I think Jarell Martin has a ton to prove. He hasn’t shown that he is above average at anything. He has limited post moves, fouls a lot on defense, and thinks he is a better shooter than he actually is. As much as I think Andrew Harrison should be on the chopping block, he has been marginally more consistent than Martin.
If you were in attendance for Chris Wallace’s season ticket holder meeting Wednesday, what would you ask?
MULLINAX- I would like to know more about the relationship between the front office and Grind City Media. Personalities like Chris Vernon and Jon Roser have backgrounds in sports radio, and host a podcast on their website, and have been critical of the front office. Wallace, of course, said fans should spend their time better than listening to the anger of sports talk radio (and probably podcasts/blogs, just inferring there though). It seems there is distance between the two, as there should be, but clarity on just what access to the organization that GCM has would be helpful.
KING- I would definitely want to know the long term vision for the franchise. I think a lot of the decisions don’t help them in the short term or the long term, so I would want to know what he plans to do for the franchise to bounce back next year and keep in the playoffs for years to come.
NOONAN- Three Questions: 1.) Without insulting the media to their faces again, what is the team’s long-term goal? 2.) How does not trading Tyreke Evans help the team for next season? 3.) After so many inexcusable mistakes, how does he still have his job? It’s honestly impressive at this point
ABRAHAM- I’d like to ask if there was something Tyreke or his representatives said to the Grizzlies front office to make them decide to not trade him. Chris obviously cannot answer that question, but it would be nice to know if there was a wink-wink discussion about Reke’s future with the team. If not that, I’d like to know what Wallace has planned to ensure this lost season is a one time thing.
MAXWELL- First off, how dare you? Second off, how dare you? More seriously, how do you feel the team has performed this season? Do you think you are doing a good job as GM? Why is Marc Gasol untouchable? How do you explain the Fizdale firing after season the results from then until now?
Should J.B. Bickerstaff be offered an extension right now, or should it wait until the summer?
MULLINAX- I would wait. That isn’t to say that J.B. isn’t the man for the job - he may well be. But why limit your options? The original best argument, in my opinion, for signing him was a tanking one. You sign him, trade Tyreke, and now you have a coach with stability who is on the side of getting the team in a position to maximize their draft pick potential this season. Now? Play out the slate however you want, and see what your possibilities are on the market this spring/summer.
KING- I wrote earlier this year that they should give J.B. a contract right away, based on the fact that the Grizzlies don’t really value coaches anyway. I think if they want to get the best coach available they should wait until the summer, but if they are confident with have an above average coach, then they should just extend a contract to Bickerstaff right away. In the past, the Grizzlies have never gone after big time coaches, so there is no reason that they will do that this summer.
NOONAN- I think the team should wait on an extension for Coach Bickerstaff. So far this season, he really has not shown anything special if he is trying to win games to save his job. The team is just as bad as they were with Fizdale. He is a likable guy though, so that will go a long way.
ABRAHAM- I think it’s best to wait until the summer to lock up J.B. He’s done a solid job with what he’s been handed, but it’s best to see what’s available this summer. It’s likely J.B. is the coach next year, but it would be in the best interest of the team to not rush into a decision.
MAXWELL- I suppose he should be expecting the full-time nod. I truly believe he will be the head coach next year, not because he is doing a great job, but because there aren’t many better options on the market. To answer the question, it should wait until the summer. Save some money, make him think he is still trying out for the job, and make a few headlines in the summer that looks to be boring for the Grizzlies outside of the draft.