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Who the Grizzlies should target with open two-way contract

The Grizzlies have plenty of options when it comes to filling the last two-way spot

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2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Chicago Bulls v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images

The Grizzlies opened up a two-way spot on their roster when they waived Sean McDermott last week to be able to execute the Patrick Beverley for Jarrett Culver and Juancho Hernangomez trade. The Grizzlies cut their roster down to 19 after buying Rajon Rondo out earlier this week, so they are set for training camp but will need to cut it down to 17 for the regular season. I would expect things to be clear by the beginning of October so whoever is signed to a two-way contract can participate in training camp.

The Grizzlies will have their fair share of options with the two-way spot. The frontcourt is pretty crowded already, with guys like Santi Aldama potentially joining two-way player Killian Tillie down in Southaven for much of the G-League season. That said, the Grizzlies could go a number of different directions with their last roster spot. I suspect they’ll go for a guard or wing, but I’m interested to see if they go for a “veteran” type player with some experience or if they go for a young, undrafted guy who shined in Las Vegas this summer.

The Grizzlies have become one of the more unpredictable front offices, but here’s a handful of guys I’d be looking at to fill that last two-way spot.

Shaq Buchanan

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Chicago Bulls v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images

Shaq Buchanan is a bit of a Grizzlies veteran at this point, having spent 2 summer leagues and likely entering his 3rd season with the Hustle. He shined in his rookie season with the Hustle in the second half once he was inserted in the starting lineup, averaging 21.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game on 50% and 43% from beyond the arc. He followed that up with an inconsistent performance in the G-League bubble last year where he averaged just 13 points on sub-30% shooting.

Buchanan averaged 10 points on nearly 40% shooting in just under 14 minutes per game for the Grizzlies in Las Vegas this past summer league, but flashed his potential with some solid games once the core Grizzlies got some rest. He will need to improve upon his efficiency but he’s a solid wing to have on a two-way day. Shaq has proven over the last few years he’s more than just a guy to keep around to keep Ja Morant happy. He’s garnered interest around the league, and caught the eye of unofficial Grizzlies fan Kendrick Perkins.

Shaq is also headlining the Grizzlies caravan this offseason, so it figures he’ll be with the Grizzlies or Hustle one way or the other this upcoming season.

Mason Jones

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Mason Jones was a key target for Grizz Twitter in the 2020 NBA Draft. His rookie season didn’t entirely go to plan as he split time with both the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers. Jones appeared in just 32 game last season, averaging just over 10 minutes per game. He also averaged 11.3 points for the Wizards this past summer league. It wasn’t long ago, however, that Mason Jones was averaging 22 points for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Taking a chance on Jones would give the Grizzlies a solid young prospect they were rumored to have interest in from the 2020 Draft.

Dennis Smith Jr.

Detroit Pistons v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Dennis Smith Jr. has struggled after an All-Rookie season with the Dallas Mavericks in 2017-2018. His minutes quickly dropped in his years in New York, and things got so bad last season he requested to be sent down to the G-League bubble just so he could get minutes. Before Smith could suit up in the bubble, he was traded to the Detroit Pistons where he had a decent turnaround averaging 7.3 points and 3.7 assists in 20 games for the Pistons.

DSJ may opt to play overseas, but his willingness to play in the G-League last season makes it realistic he’d consider a two-way deal to try and revitalize his career. This would be a low-risk move for the Grizzlies to have DSJ as an emergency 3rd PG on the roster behind Ja Morant and Tyus Jones.

Jeremiah Martin

Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets - Game Four Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images

Last season was the first year the Hustle didn’t have a former Memphis Tiger on the roster. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Grizzlies try and land a former Tiger for the upcoming G-League season to get the Southaven faithful excited for playing back inside the Landers Center.

Martin would be more than just a pity signee, however, as he’s played great in the G-League over the past couple of seasons — averaging 18 points and 5.1 assists. The key with him is the 3-point shooting as he’s shot 28% from beyond the arc in 52 G-League games. Martin would be a hometown favorite and provides some upside as a comb guard.

Frank Mason

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Utah Jazz v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

At 27 years old, Mason may opt to play overseas but could consider one more shot at the NBA on a two-way deal after an unfortunate season last year. Mason was signed to a two-way contract with the Orlando Magic but was cut less than two weeks later. He was picked up by the Delaware Blue Coats but was waived after suffering a season-ending injury before logging any minutes with the squad.

Mason still has some intriguing upside, as he was the G League MVP for the 2019-2020 season with the Wisconsin Herd — averaging 26.4 points, 5 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game. His age may play a role in any potential signing, but he has proven he can dominate at least at the G-League level and is worth taking a look at.

Other Candidates

NBA: Summer League-Memphis Grizzlies at Chicago Bulls Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Garrison Mathews- Mathews is a sharpshooter who has spent the last two seasons on a two-way contract with the Washington Wizards. He appeared in 64 games last season with Washington and has shot nearly 39% from beyond the arc for his career. The Franklin, Tennessee native could be a solid 3-point shooting option, especially if the Grizzlies don’t keep Sam Merrill around.

Tremont Waters- Waters has spent the past two-seasons on a two-way deal with the Boston Celtics. He hasn’t done much at the NBA level, appearing in just 37 games and logging a total of 357 minutes. Waters is a 5’10” point guard, but he flashed his upside his rookie season with the Maine Red Claws averaging 18 points and 7.2 assist earning G League Rookie of the Year honors.

Armoni Brooks- Armoni Brooks is an unlikely target as he just signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Houston Rockets. Still, after his impressive summer league performance where he averaged 17.5 points on 44% shooting and 42.9% from beyond the arc, it’s worth considering plucking Brooks from the Rockets as E10 contracts don’t limit a player from signing a two-way deal with another team. He is a bucket-getter, and although he may not have a major role with the Grizzlies, would be a blast in Southaven.

Yves Pons- There was a lot of excitement following the 2021 NBA Draft when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi reported the Grizzlies were signing Pons to a deal. While most were hopeful that Pons was a two-way, it was eventually revealed that Pons had signed an Exhibit 10 with the Grizzlies. Pons showed flashes, particularly defensively, with the Grizzlies at summer league. However, with him already inked to an Exhibit 10 deal, it’s likely the Grizzlies look elsewhere to fill that two-way spot.

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