The Orlando bubble is bringing a lot of innovation: unique play-in stipulations between 8 and 9 seeds, less restrictive dress codes, new testing and workout procedures, and now this transaction window.
This mini free agency will have a lot of eyes on it. Everyone is waiting for JR Smith to reunite with LeBron in LA. Where will injured (former) All-Stars Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins land? Will Jamal Crawford get a proper swan song?
Those are all questions the league will answer in the coming weeks.
For the Grizzlies, there aren’t many questions. Their roster is solidified. Everyone — except for probably Grayson Allen and Jontay Porter — will be healthy. There aren’t any glaring holes that come to mind either. However, stranger things have happened. In the event that a player opts out of the bubble, who should they target as a replacement player? Better yet, if a slot opens for John Konchar’s roster spot to be converted to a main roster slot, who takes the other two-way contract?
Brandon Abraham and I collaborated on this, where Brandon mentions some G-League guys, and I talked about veterans.
As part of the restart of the season in Orlando, all 22 teams have the opportunity to convert their two-way players to standard NBA contracts (like what OKC did with Lu Dortz) and then go out and sign another player with 0-3 years of NBA experience to a two-way deal. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the two-way contract will just be for the end of this season with the player becoming an unrestricted free agent once the season concludes.
A team that converts a Two-Way contract to a standard contract can replace that player with a Two-Way substitute. The player would be an unrestricted FA (unlike RFA on a 2-Way) and can only have 0-3 years of service. Window for Two-Way substitute players start on June 27.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) June 24, 2020
In theory, the Grizzlies could convert two-way standout John Konchar, waive someone like Marko Guduric, and then sign someone to a two-way deal.
- Jaylen Adams was the runner up for G-League MVP behind fellow Wisconsin Herd teammate Frank Mason. Adams is a score-first point guard who averaged 20.9 points for the Herd this past season. He’s also a solid facilitator and rebounder as he averaged 5.2 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 40% from beyond the arc. With just Tyus Jones behind Ja Morant on the depth chart at the point guard position, Jaylen Adams would be a solid 3rd PG to have on the roster in Orlando should someone get sick or injured.
- Eric Mika of the Stockton Kings would provide some added depth down low for the Grizzlies. At 6’10”, Mika would provide the Grizzlies with some additional depth at the center position behind Jonas Valanciunas and Gorgui Dieng. Mika is a rebounding machine, averaging 12 per game for the Kings. He doesn’t provide much offensively, but he’s a big body who can crash the boards and alter shots at the rim.
- Jemerrio Jones of the Wisconsin Herd would be a solid pick up on the wing for the Grizzlies. Jones can do a little bit of it all, averaging 10.8 points per game to go along with 4.6 assists. Where Jones stands out is his ability to crash the glass as a small forward, where he grabbed 12 per game this past season. The Grizzlies are pretty deep on the wing, but if they wanted to grab someone who is a “jack of all trades,” Jones would fit the bill.
- Isaiah Canaan, another member of the Stockton Kings, could be a veteran addition for the Grizzlies. Canaan has spent the past 6 years in and out of the NBA but provides more NBA experience than anyone in the G-League not named Jarrett Jack. For the Kings, Canaan averaged 21.4 points and 6.1 assists on 43.6% shooting (41.5% from beyond the arc). Canaan would be a valuable 3rd point guard on the squad and could come in and let it fly from deep when needed.
- Ivan Rabb dominated the G-League for the Westchester Knicks just like he did with the Hustle over the last few seasons. Cut as part of a roster crunch this past offseason, Rabb landed on his feet in New York and led the G-League with 12.1 rebounds per game. Rabb would be a solid depth piece down low and would at least somewhat be familiar with the Grizzlies’ system. Rabb never proved worthy being the 35th overall pick by the Grizzlies in 2017, but the Grizzlies could do a lot worse if they wanted to get an extra big man who can rebound and defend the rim behind Jonas Valanciunas and Gorgui Dieng.
The NBA is granting teams with replacement players for those who decide they’re not going to the bubble, and they can’t replace injured players.
From @wojespn “Brooklyn can designate two-way players Chris Chiozza and Jeremiah Martin as roster spots 14 and 15 to replace injured stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. However, the Nets wouldn't be allowed to sign two replacements for Durant and Irving.”— NetsDaily (@NetsDaily) June 11, 2020
So in the Grizzlies’ case, they could use John Konchar as the 15th guy to replace injured Jontay Porter. However, if any player elects to not join the Grizzlies for the Orlando bubble, who should they target?
Hypothetically speaking, they should target a 3rd point guard, even though Kyle Anderson or Justise Winslow could handle “point guard” responsibilities in emergency situations. Or, they should add veteran shooting to its wing rotation.
- Allen Crabbe is a prime, realistic target for the Grizzlies, as they nearly traded for him at the trade deadline last season. If the Grizzlies seek extra shooting, he’s one of the better marksmen on the market. Prior to this season (30.3% from 3 on 3.2 attempts per game), he was a 39.3% 3-point shooter for this career on 4.3 attempts. He won’t add much defensively, and he’d be a bit small at the 3. However, if they want to add someone who’s going to “let it fly” — something Coach Taylor Jenkins loves to see — Crabbe is an ideal fit and probably the most impactful player on the market.
- Iman Shumpert would be a great veteran presence on this team. The former members of SB Nation’s Sactown Royalty lauded his leadership on that team, and how impactful he was towards winning for them. Though he’s a woefully inconsistent shooter, he’s a versatile defender that can cover positions 1-4 in switch situations. In addition, he’s a decent secondary playmaker to have off the bench. If the Grizzlies wanted to add another veteran voice in the locker room, Shump would be a valuable piece.
- Don’t laugh at this, but Cameron Payne would be a decent addition as an absolute emergency 3rd point guard. For starters, he’s already in Memphis working with Ja Morant, so that connection is always cool. However, in his time with Chicago, he showed he can be a decent shooter and reliable ball-mover (2.6 AST/TO Ratio). He’s an absolute shatter-the-emergency-glass option at point, but he’s also only 25 years old. Why not see how he looks like in the mini training camp?
- If they opt to go with a steady veteran to be that 3rd point guard, the best on the market is Jeremy Lin. He’s one of the biggest names on the market, and he can still contribute. Before he was a casualty to shorter playoff rotations, Lin averaged 7 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 18.8 minutes per game in his 23 appearances with Toronto — 10.7/2.3/3.5 in 19.7 minutes per game with Atlanta. He’s a big point guard (6’3”, 200 pounds) that can create his own shot, run the offense, and serve as a combo guard next to Ja Morant and Tyus Jones. He’d be a splashy option for sure, but if he needs to take spot minutes at a guard slot, he’ll be a good pickup on the market.
- Jamal Crawford would be the splashiest signing for the transaction window. Though he’s approaching 40, he proved last season that he can still ball, averaging 7.9 points and 3.6 assists in 18.9 minutes per game., while shooting 33.2% from 3 on 3.2 attempts. He’s been the definition of “instant offense.” At this stage, for the Grizzlies, he’d be a wing that can get his own bucket, create for others, run the floor, and space the floor. In addition, he’s one of the most respected veterans in basketball. Adding him for the bubble could pay big dividends both on the court and in the locker room; he’s one of the only guys on the market that could possibly win you a bubble game.
The Grizzlies have a lot of tantalizing options going forward, and it’ll be interesting to see what they do during this transaction period.
For the most part, they could just stand pat. There aren’t any rumblings, at the moment, of any players leaning towards not going to the bubble. Though Justise Winslow has expressed concerns about the safety of it, I doubt he opts out.
Not to mention, they just signed Anthony Tolliver to a deal. Do they add another free agent? Granted, they could waive Guduric — or if Porter can be replaced since he’s injured — they could have another spot open. Regardless, the Grizzlies’ rotation and roster could be set for the Orlando bubble.