It was a quiet trade deadline for the Memphis Grizzlies, as they were one of seven teams to not make a trade on Thursday. With the focus of this season being talent development and evaluation, it wasn’t surprising to see the Grizzlies stand pat at the deadline. The Grizzlies did make a move the day after the deadline, waiving center Gorgui Dieng to allow him the opportunity to sign with a contending team.
The Grizzlies created a roster spot by waiving Dieng, and with 30 games in 51 days, additional depth will be nice. With the Grizzlies already having solid rotation numbers, and Jaren Jackson Jr.’s return late next month, it’s likely the player the Grizzlies sign will rarely see the court. The Grizzlies could go in a multitude of directions with their open roster spot. They could sign a veteran point guard off the market to serve as an emergency option behind Ja Morant and Tyus Jones. They could also go after a veteran wing player, as the Grizzlies are slightly undersized at the traditional “small forward” spot outside of Kyle Anderson and Justise Winslow. Some names to look out for here could be Jeremy Lin, Tim Frazier or even Otto Porter could make sense if waived, though they’ll likely look for opportunities where they’ll be able to get consistent minutes.
Instead of signing a vet, I expect the Grizzlies to sign another young piece to the squad so they can evaluate in practices since there will be limited game action opportunities. The past couple of seasons, the Grizzlies have rewarded Hustle standouts with 10-day contracts. Marquis Teague, Omari Johnson, Dusty Hannahs, and Jarrod Uthoff have all gotten the Hustle call up to the Grizzlies. I wouldn’t be surprised if they used the open roster spot on a Hustle star from the bubble in Orlando, or another G-League stud who played well in the Gubble.
The Grizzlies have options with what they could do with the open roster spot. They can convert Killian Tillie’s two-way contract to a guaranteed deal and sign another player to a two-way contract since there is no deadline for signing two-way guys this season. Or the team could simply sign a player outright to a end of season deal.
Regardless of the contract, here’s some names for the Grizzlies to look at.
Ahmad Caver was arguably the Hustle’s best all-around player in Orlando. Caver averaged 16.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game on nearly 53% shooting and nearly 43% from beyond the arc. Caver is a solid combo guard who could serve as an emergency point guard for the Grizzlies, but would likely be an extra body in practices and someone the Grizzlies are already familiar with after Caver spent the past 2 seasons with the Hustle, as well as a majority of the preseason with the Grizzlies this year.
The concern with Caver would be that he’s a score-first combo guard, and the Grizzlies already have plenty of scoring guards on the roster.
Bennie Boatwright got off to a cold start with the Hustle after missing all of last season with an injury. After a few games, Boatwright got into a real rhythm offensively and finished the season averaging 12.7 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 37.5% from beyond the arc on 7+ attempts per game. Bennie proved in the bubble that he’d be a great stretch 4 or small-ball 5 who doesn’t sacrifice much when it comes to rebounding like other bigs can. The Grizzlies already have Xavier Tillman, Jontay Porter and Killian Tillie as big men who aren’t seeing minutes, so it’ll be interesting if the Grizzlies really want to invest in another big man, especially with JJJ returning in a months time.
Ja Morant’s bounce brother from Murray State didn’t take a second year leap in the bubble like I expected, but still proved to be a solid wing player. His efficiency dropped as the Hustle’s offense was inconsistent at times in Orlando, and Shaq simply struggled making shots he made last season.
Even with the drop in efficiency, Shaq averaged 12.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game for the Hustle. Shaq probably makes the least sense out of the trio of Hustle standouts, but with his relationship with Ja Morant and his size on the wing, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Grizzlies end up signing Shaq.
Freddie Gillespie- Gillespie was one of the better rookies in the G-League and a snub from the G-League defensive team. Gillespie averaged a 10.5 points, 10.3 rebound double-double for the Hustle while also averaging 2.3 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. Gillespie is a true rim protector but doesn’t get much offensively outside of the cylinder. With the plethora of big men on the Grizz roster already, I don’t expect Gillespie to get a serious look.
Louis King- King really shined in his second season in the G-League, this season with the Westchester Knicks. King averaged 13.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 45% from beyond the arc. At 21 years old, King is still extremely young and could be a valuable wing who can shoot it from distance as well as play solid defense.
Rob Edwards- Rob Edwards had a solid season with the OKC Blue this past season averaging 12.5 points on 44% shooting from beyond the arc. Edwards can simply shoot lights out from distance, and you can never have too much shooting in today’s NBA.
Guys like Jarrod Uthoff, Jalen Adams, Gary Payton II, David Stockton and Tahjere McCall are also worthy contenders for the last roster spot.
There are certainly plenty of options for the Grizzlies with an open roster spot, but I would have to predict that they reward one of the Hustle standouts considering playing time will be nearly non-existent for whoever fills the final roster spot, and it’s been the front office’s MO the last few seasons. Regardless, whoever the Grizzlies end up signing will have a chance to impress the front office and coaching staff as well as provide some extra depth late in the season.