Many people in the Memphis Grizzlies fan universe weren’t too thrilled with the release of Kobi Simmons. I guess I could understand the displeasure, since many fans thought that Kobi had upside and was worth keeping on the roster. The question is, though, even if he does have upside, would he have gotten the opportunity to tap into it in Memphis?
Simmons came into the offseason with one year left on his two-way deal. Though people were calling for him to be called upon to the main roster on a guaranteed deal, it made sense for the Grizzlies to keep him on the two-way deal to maximize the team’s depth.
The door was halfway shut.
As the Grizzlies entered the draft, most analysts knew they weren’t going to use the 4th pick on a guard, unless it was on Luka Doncic. Kobi Simmons was safe in that regard. No new prospect was going to stand in his way... until the Grizzlies were on the clock at 32. There were plenty of talented players on the board there — Jalen Brunson, De’Anthony Melton, Khyri Thomas and Keita Bates-Diop. However, the Grizzlies fell in love with the tough, defensive-minded Jevon Carter, as the team were eager to revive that “Grit ‘n’ Grind” magic. Ironically enough, he too was a point guard.
The door was cracked at this point.
Summer League was make or break for Kobi Simmons. With a plethora of eager players vying a NBA roster spot, Simmons’ two-way contract was in jeopardy. During Summer League action, he didn’t really show much. Sure, he could score, but he didn’t prove his chops as a point guard or a good defender. Why would the Grizzlies want to keep an undersized combo guard that can only score against G-League level talent? (Note: He may be 6’5” but he only weighs 166 pounds. That’s undersized.)
The door was closing.
Wednesday’s news slammed the door shut, as Kobi Simmons must find a new basketball home.
For a two-way player, he played exceptionally well last season, averaging 6.1 points and 2.1 assists in 20.1 minutes per games in 32 appearances. His athleticism and scoring turned some heads, becoming an under-the-radar fan favorite in Memphis. The lack of any sort of all-around game hurt his chances of landing a prominent role on his team.
Sure, he’s only 20 years old, and there’s room for him to grow — the common argument from most Kobi stans. Where was the opportunity for growth coming from, though? Jevon Carter and Andrew Harrison are both point guards with more to offer for this Grizzlies teams. Even if they made him a 2-guard, he’s not better than any of the incumbent wings on the roster right now.
Fortunately, because of his youth, athleticism and his play last season, Simmons will likely land another job in the NBA, as he’ll likely be claimed off the waivers. To salvage this opportunity, he must find a way to add muscle and to improve his playmaking and defense.
Hopefully, Simmons lands on his feet and capitalizes on a more open opportunity elsewhere.
Stats found on basketball-reference.