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Memphis Grizzlies Free Agency: Who is left?

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The pickings are getting slim...

2018 NBA Finals - Game Four Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Avery Bradley? Back with the Clippers.

Mario Hezonja? Went to the Knicks.

Will Barton? Never stood a chance, took a big deal with the Nuggets.

Tyreke Evans? Mixed reports of his availability, but even if he is still out there the Memphis Grizzlies apparently HAVE NOT EVEN CONTACTED HIM...

A topic for another article...

Several of the top targets for the Grizzlies are officially off the market. According to reports, they are at least trying (they were in the mix for Mario Hezonja), but so far that has not been good enough. Memphis has never been a free agent hot bed, though, so while these swings and misses may be frustrating (especially Tyreke Evans, but again, that’ll come later) they’re not overly surprising. The biggest free agent signing in Grizzlies history, Chandler Parsons, would appear to have chosen Memphis for the money and security that comes with it given his knee issues.

Bummer.

Now, as we enter the next wave of free agency, there are still some talented players available that Memphis could reach out to and bring in to the fold. Maybe the Grizzlies front office is crazy like a fox...there are still decent role players available, some of which are still young and could still develop in to something more as their NBA careers carry on. Multiple years of $5-7 million may be enough at this stage, with money running out for many teams around the league, to snag one of these types of players.

Considering that the Grizzlies have already reportedly agreed to a veteran’s minimum contract with Omri Casspi, that would remove the need for any hybrid forward types. We can probably take players like Kyle Anderson, Michael Beasley, and Luc Mbah a Moute off the Grizzlies list. So what wings and ball handlers are left?

Rodney Hood

Hood remains available, although the Cleveland Cavaliers did extend the qualifying offer to him, meaning they have the right to match any offer made to him that he agrees to. The Grizzlies would probably want him for cheap, but whatever “cheap” is ($4-$5 million?) in their eyes would likely be matched by Cleveland, who is now in a rebuild mode with LeBron James gone. Rodney could get back to what he was in Utah with opportunity opened up and also fits that “second draft” idea that Memphis applied to Ben McLemore, but for the right price that possibility has value for the new-look Cavaliers as well.

Hood would make sense for the Grizzlies, but at what cost? The career almost 37% three point shooter has offensive skill, but he’s never been a very good defender and has only posted a win shares per 48 minutes above .100 once, in the 2015-2016 season. Memphis would have to overpay to get him, and it may not be worth it.

Which means this is probably what the Grizzlies will do, because of course.

Wayne Ellington

Grizzlies fans of course remember Wayne from his short time with Memphis during the 2012-2013 season. He only played 40 games for the Grizzlies, but he showcased his sharpshooting ways in his cup of coffee in the Bluff City as he shot 42.3% from beyond the arc. Fast forward several season, and Ellington is still deadly from the perimeter even as his role has grown for other teams. This past year in Miami Wayne was essentially the team’s sixth man, playing 26.5 minutes per game in 77 games while only starting two of those contests. He attempted 579 threes, the most of his career by a wide margin (185 more than his previous high the season before.)

He still shot 39.2% from three.

Wayne will never be mistaken for a defensive stopper, and his game offensive is still limited in terms of creation off the dribble for himself and others (although he has developed a bit as a cutter to the rim). What he is, though, is a sharpshooter, and that spacing he provides would be quite valuable for these Grizzlies.

He doesn’t fit “Grit and Grind”, but neither does Casspi. An Ellington signing with Wayne coming off of arguably the best season of his career would be a win for the front office at this stage.

Shabazz Napier

Napier would provide a veteran presence as a scorer that simply is not on the Grizzlies roster currently. With Mike Conley coming off of an injury, it is certainly possible that he will not be ready for a full load at the start of the season. Napier is not just a good bench facilitator and conductor of offense, he also can spot start for Mike and lighten his load so he does not always have to be the primary handler of offense off the dribble from the point.

This isn’t meant to be insulting to Jevon Carter or Andrew Harrison. Carter just may not be ready to take on such responsibility as a rookie, and Harrison has the size to play off the ball as a wing. Napier coming in could result in Harrison being more of a secondary ball handler that can then run the offense as Napier, who shot 37.3% from three on average the past two seasons in Portland, comes off of screens to get room to work with as a catch-and-shoot player as well as a creator with the ball off of a pass.

Napier would also make sense for these reasons. He started his NBA career slow, but he really developed with the Trail Blazers and could be a solid leader of the reserves in Memphis.

Other possibilities

  • Treveon Graham- Talk about balling on a budget. He only has attempted 112 threes in his career, but he is shooting 43.8% on those shots and the 6’6” wing has been lauded for playing with effort and energy. Sounds Gritty and Grindy to me.
  • Dante Exum- A combo guard who is similar to Hood in that Memphis would likely have to overpay to get him. Exum is not a particularly good three point shooter (27.8% from three last season in arguably his best all-around season as a pro) but he shot a very good 67.6% at or around the rim and can play any position on the perimeter. Think a higher ceiling Andrew Harrison - if you bring in the 6’6” with a 6’9” wingspan Exum, switching defensively becomes even more possible and dangerous. Add in the fact he turns 23 next week, and his versatility could result in a good signing as well.
  • Jeff Green- Just kidding, relax.

Memphis still has options, but as money and time dry up the Grizzlies have to make a move and stick with it. Casspi alone is not enough to appease this fan base, and even if that isn’t your goal (as it probably shouldn’t be) your roster as-is may not be good enough to make the playoffs in the tougher-than-ever Western Conference. Another signing would mean a release or trade down the road of someone currently on the team, but if a return to postseason play is the goal another addition to the perimeter in free agency would be wise.

Stats provided by basketball-reference.com

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