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The Grizzlies and the 2020 Free Agency Market

The Memphis Grizzlies will have limited resources, but there’s still room for improvement.

Orlando Magic v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The offseason for the Memphis Grizzlies may be rather quiet... or at least that’s what I’m expecting.

They will finally pay their debts to the Jeff Green trade when they convey their first-round pick this season — slotted at 17th overall right now. Draft-wise, they’ll only have the 40th pick.

Everyone else is on the books for next season, except for De’Anthony Melton and Josh Jackson. Due to whatever impact COVID-19 and Darryl Morey’s tweets have on the salary cap, the market could dry out rather quickly. Depending on the market, it is fair to suspect that Melton is for sure back, and Jackson maybe back. The market for someone of Josh Jackson’s polarizing pedigree may not be too strong, but Memphis can only offer a 1 year $8.9 million deal themselves due to the opt out of his rookie deal. There are obvious limitations there, too.

With limited cap room, they won’t be making splashy free agent signings, and that’s okay. Their “free agent acquisitions” were Justise Winslow and Gorgui Dieng. However, opening up roster spots in some capacity and eventually filling them is possible. Do they waive Marko Guduric and use his roster spot on a free agency? Or do they use it to promote John Konchar to the main roster?

In addition, a multi-player trade that opens a roster spot. Like GBB Site Manager Joe Mullinax has suggested, they could use it on someone like Buddy Hield or Zach LaVine, which comes with pros and cons. Or, they could use the contracts of Dieng, Kyle Anderson, or (sigh) Grayson Allen to bring in a larger, longer contract — with draft pick compensation included.

In that event a roster spot opens up, the Grizzlies could find a reliable veteran role player on a nice, team-friendly deal to shore up depth...or their treasure chest of assets. Granted, none of them will have the impact of some players in free agency — DeMar DeRozan, Fred VanVleet, or Joe Harris, to name a few. However, they could find a bargain that makes this team competitive next season without damaging the future.

Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Kent Bazemore

The perception of Kent Bazemore between the casual and blogger social media spheres in quite different.

He made a huge leap from Golden State Warriors cheerleader to a starter on one of the best teams in the East in the Atlanta Hawks. And for a while, he was a solid wing, one that was coveted by some (this writer included) of the Grit years. However, he’s declined a bit into a 9th/10th man, or even lower on a championship team.

On this squad though, he would provide value. He’s a multi-positional defender with the size to defend positions 1-4. In the past, he’s shown his chops as a secondary playmaker, but his assist numbers dropped this season. However, in Taylor Jenkins’ pace-and-space offense, he could become a solid secondary playmaker off the bench next to Tyus Jones, (hopefully) De’Anthony Melton, and Brandon Clarke. With Sacramento, he shot 38.6% from 3 on 5.6 attempts per game. If he could trend more towards that percentage than his numbers at the end of his Hawks run (32.0%), he could be a valuable bargain for this Grizzlies team.

At this stage of his career, Bazemore will likely look to land on a championship-contending team in need of wing depth — somewhere like Philadelphia, Toronto, or Milwaukee. He should be a target in Memphis though as a backup 3 who serves as an insurance policy for a Justise Winslow or Dillon Brooks injury.

Memphis Grizzlies v Detroit Pistons Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Langston Galloway

If you comprised a “hey, that guy is pretty good” team of players you only pay attention to when your team is playing them, Langston Galloway has to be on the first team.

This past season, he had a career year on a depleted Detroit Pistons team. He averaged 10.3 points, his highest PPG since his rookie season, and shot 39.9% from 3 (5 attempts a game) in 25.8 minutes per game.

He fits in as a nice combo guard who’s a reliable shooter and can play both on and off the ball. Given his size and positional fit, he’s not an ideal candidate. Cleaning the Glass classifies him as a wing, even though he’s 6’2”. Granted, he has a 6’8” wingspan, which is huge for someone his size. There’s just a lot of overlap between him and a few of the incumbent roster spots.

Wouldn’t you rather use De’Anthony Melton, Grayson Allen, or John Konchar in a Galloway role? You could argue Melton is already better than him, and the other two have more room to grow.

Depsite the concerns, don’t be surprised to see Galloway as a target, given his plus wingspan and his outside shooting. In addition, if they prioritize the need for a 3rd point guard — which they shouldn’t do in free agency — Galloway could come up as a possibility.

Memphis Grizzlies v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

E’Twaun Moore

Like Galloway, E’Twaun Moore is another “wait, this guy is pretty good, even though I only see him four times a year” player. Even on the JJ Redick podcast, he talked about how good he was when he arrived in New Orleans this past summer.

For a stretch, he was the Pelicans’ best wing, even on their playoff teams. That may not be saying much, since it was always their biggest area of weakness. However, he’s still a solid player who will probably get roster-crunched in favor of the Pelicans’ young players.

Like Galloway, he does have positional concerns within this team. He’s a 6’3” wing with a 6’9.5” wingspan, which makes it easier to play him at the 3. Where he’s really an asset here is his outside shooting. For his career, he’s a 39% 3-point shooter, and he’s shot at least 40 percent or better in 3 of his 9 seasons. Though his role was cut down significantly, he scored at the best rate of his career, averaging 8.6 points in 18.8 minutes per game — translating to 16.4 points per 36 minutes.

If they go down the “combo guard, fringe wing” route, Moore is a better choice for the Grizzlies than Galloway, since he’s a more versatile offensive weapon with a reliable 3-point shot.

Alec Burks or Glenn Robinson III

I’m going to lump Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III together, not because they should be brought in together, but because they have a similar situation.

Both Burks and Robinson are probably 1A/1B on the board here, since they both fit a specific need, and are likely to be better contributors than anyone mentioned here. However, it’s tough to gauge their market value.

They both benefitted from Golden State’s disastrous season, as they put up career averages and probably saved their individual careers. Then, they were traded to Philadelphia, ready to play roles as 3-and-D wings off the bench. It’s hard to know what sample teams will go off of to value them.

In Golden State, they were forced into more go-to scoring roles. Instead of a decline in efficiency, they shot an above-average clip from 3 (40% on 3.5 attempts per game for GRIII, and 37.5% on 4.7 attempts for Burks). In Philly though, their percentages from deep took a pretty big hit. Granted, the spacing situation there didn’t help, but their roles were to help it.

Regardless, these two fit obvious needs for the Grizzlies, as they are wings that could space the floor, defend multiple positions, and play in a rotation spot on a playoff team. The question will be, will the Golden State versions show up, or the Philadelphia ones?

Milwaukee Bucks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Other Potential Targets

The Grizzlies could go down different routes as well, ones that should be further down the list in terms of priority.

Pat Connaughton could be a potential target for the Grizzlies, especially given his history with Taylor Jenkins, and for the brand. He would fit well here - his blend of outside shooting and elite athleticism he showed at Notre Dame aligns with several other Grizzlies. The production beyond the arc wasn’t coming to fruition in the pros, but he’s blossomed into a rotation player and plus defender on the best team in basketball. That has to mean something, right? Pat Connaughton could work, but I’d rather prioritize the development of Melton, Allen, and Konchar here.

Michael Carter-Williams...please, don’t laugh...wouldn’t be the worst signing in the world. His career has been defined by his rapid decline from his Rookie of the Year run and his putrid outside shooting. However, he could be a nice pickup, especially if a trade with Kyle Anderson materializes. He’s a big guard that’s transformed more into a wing stopper, and he’d be a good insurance policy if anything happens to any of the Grizzlies’ playmakers.

Torrey Craig could be another possibility here, but his NBA role is undefined. He’s been a rotation player for one of the better Western Conference teams, even though he doesn’t have a defining basketball trait. If they prioritize wing depth though, Craig could wind up being an option.

Jeff Green and Chandler Parsons are also free agents!

Guys, put down the pitchforks. Just a joke. Stay calm.

Orlando Magic v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies’ 2020 offseason won’t define the long-term success of this NXT-GEN era. They won’t have a high draft pick, where they could potentially swing and miss with bigger repercussions. They don’t have the cap space to overpay for an external free agent, and knowing the absolute worst-case scenario there that may be for the best.

The number one priority has to be re-signing De’Anthony Melton. He’s an incredibly young guard with an elite skill, and the team’s awesome when he plays. He also has great chemistry with this team, on and off the court. He’s not a guy you want to lose.

The goal here should be maximizing their open roster spots, whether more open up with trades or not. Imagine if guys like Gorgui Dieng, Grayson Allen, and John Konchar are your 12-14th men. That means you have a really good basketball team, one that could make the playoffs. It is also realistic to think they could bring back everyone next summer, while perhaps replacing Guduric with Konchar, and still be a really good team.

Despite the limited resources this offseason, the Grizzlies could raise the floor of this team without sacrificing the goal of sustainable long-term success. Any of these players could be contributors to a good Grizzlies basketball team next season, or they’re another asset to find one for the franchise’s future.

Stats found on basketball-reference.

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