In the aftermath of the Grizzlies moves at the trade deadline, they unsurprisingly waived Dion Waiters who was acquired from Miami. The move was expected, but still a bit of a surprise considering they could have used Waiters’ nearly $13 million expiring contract in a trade this summer or next season. The decision to take on the rest of Waiters salary this season, along with being on the hook for much of next year’s $13 million, says a lot about the Grizzlies front office. They clearly did not want Dion Waiters to even have the chance to come in and mess up the Grizzlies locker room culture that has been a major talking point for the new front office all season long. It also means the front office may see some use in the final roster spot, instead of using it is a placeholder for guys that will never put on a Grizzlies uniform.
Though filling the open roster spot isn’t necessarily imminent, the Grizzlies will most likely fill the space by the end of the month so that whomever they sign is eligible to play in the playoffs should the Grizzlies make it. Veteran guys like Jamal Crawford and J.R. Smith have been mentioned on Twitter by fans, and while the Grizzlies could probably use a solid vet to fill the void left by Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill, I believe the Grizzlies should go a different route with their open roster spot. They should target some of the top talent in the G-League and look for the next Duncan Robinson or Chris Boucher. The Grizzlies could use some wing depth and definitely some more 3-point shooting. Whether it’s to a guaranteed deal or just a couple of 10-days, here are a few guys the Grizzlies should take a look at.
Okay so I’m cheating with my first option here. Broekhoff hasn’t played in the G-League, but he did spend 5 years playing overseas before spending the past two seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, who waived him this past week. At 6’6” Broekhoff played both wing positions for the Mavs and has shot 40.3% from beyond the arc over his career. Broekhoff is a bit older than everyone else on this list at 29 but he’d be a solid shooter for the Grizzlies to bring in.
Rowsey is the G-League’s current leader in 3-point percentage, shooting 50% (57-114) on the season. The Grizzlies have always been short on shooting and Rowsey would arguably be the best shooter on the team upon signing a contract with the Grizzlies. In 17 games for the Lakeland Magic, Rowsey has averaged 21.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting nearly 7 three-pointers per game. Rowsey is an undersized point guard, standing at just 5’11”, and with Ja Morant and Tyus Jones locked into their roles on the Grizzlies depth chart it’s unlikely the team pursues another point to add to the rotation. Rowsey is definitely more of a 10-day contract candidate instead of an end of season deal.
Maten has been one of the best players in the G-League over the past two seasons. He likely could have earned MVP honors last season were it not for the insane production from Chris Boucher from the Raptors 905. Maten is a double-double threat, averaging 18.2 points and 9 rebounds per game for the Maine Red Claws this season. At 6’7” and 240 pounds, Maten is a bruiser down low able to get easy shots at the rim. The downside with Maten is he’s a bit undersized for a power forward in the NBA and isn’t enough of an outside threat to make up for it. Maten’s production alone is worth taking a look at, but with the Grizzlies set with Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke down low, the organization may look elsewhere to fill their last open roster spot.
Mathias has been a solid all-around player for the Texas Legends in his first year in the G-League. In 33 games Mathias has averaged 18.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 39.7% from beyond the arc, averaging nearly 9 attempts per game. At 6’4” Mathias isn’t a big wing but his all-around play makes him worthy of a deeper look. He’s a gunner from beyond the arc, with the second most 3-point attempts in the league and would be an immediate threat from beyond the arc for the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are likely looking for a bigger wing to fill in their open roster spot, but should they prioritize 3-point shooting Mathias would be an obvious candidate for a contract.
The Grizzlies may not have to look far to replace their open roster spot. The Grizzlies have one of the best big men in the G-League down in Southaven wearing Hustle red. Jarrod Uthoff has been arguably the best all-around big man in the G-League this season for the Hustle. He’s averaged 18.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 35.4% from beyond the arc. Uthoff is also an analytics darling with one of the highest net ratings on the team (8.6). Uthoff does a lot of things right for the Hustle and makes winning plays, even if they don’t always show up in the stat sheet. Uthoff reminds me a lot like a poor man's version of Dirk Nowitzki. He has a soft touch around the rim and is able to light it up from deep if necessary. At 6’9” Uthoff is slightly undersized to be a backup center but could fill in if necessary.
Uthoff could also slot in and be a nice stretch four for the Grizzlies, able to go to work on the inside and outside. With JJJ, Valanciunas, Clarke, Jordan Bell and Gorgui Gieng on the roster the Grizzlies would have to do some maneuvering to find minutes for Uthoff.
Dusty Hannahs is the perfect example of what the G-League is for. Coming into the league as part of the Hustle’s inaugural season 3 years ago, Hannahs was mostly known as a 3-point specialist out of Arkansas. Since then, Hannahs has improved in every facet of the game. He’s become a true 3-level scorer, able to attack and score at the rim, the mid range and of course from beyond the arc. Hannahs has also improved as a rebounder and facilitator with the Hustle knowing when to help on the boards or when he needs to leak out for a fast break scoring opportunity.
Hannahs has improved as a ball-handler and has played point guard a lot this season. At 6’3” Hannahs doesn’t have the size to be an elite defender but what he lacks in size he makes up for in effort. He’s worked and improved defensively over the last few years and although bigger guards can get their points on Hannahs, he’ll make sure that it doesn’t come easy for them. Hannahs is currently ranked 3rd in the G-League in 3-point percentage shooting 47.1% (105-223) and should already be familiar with the Grizzlies system after being a part of the summer league team. With both De’Anthony Melton and Dillon Brooks able to play both the 2 and the 3, Hannahs could fit in quite nicely in a small-ball Grizzlies lineup.
His size will always be a concern, but with an extra roster spot to fill, Hannahs has earned the right to get a legit NBA opportunity after being one of the G-League’s best this season.
Players signed on the buyout market have rarely gone on to make a big impact on their team in helping them in the playoffs. Although the Grizzlies are surprisingly going to be in a dog fight for the 8-seed, they should mimic what great developmental organizations have done (Miami, Toronto, etc) and bring in a young guy to help develop. The focus should continue to be on the upcoming years and the team shouldn’t make a short-term move due to the recent success.