It’s a new year, and the Memphis Grizzlies are already making moves to help solidify their roster both short and long-term.
The Grizzlies announced today that Memphis had signed Killian Tillie to a full roster contract (Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN has the deal at 2 years, $4 million) and have waived Sam Merrill to make room for the addition. Merrill had some success as a shooter and appeared in six games for the Grizzlies this season after arriving in Memphis as part of the Grayson Allen trade with Milwaukee (that was always more about the two 2nd rounders attached).
Tillie, on the other hand, has been with the Grizzlies for over a year now and in his recent opportunity with the main roster has shown the flashes of talent that had folks so interested in him before his injuries at Gonzaga. Across two seasons he has played in 40 games for Memphis, and this season in particular he has demonstrated his ability to be both a stretch big and a wing (depending on the matchup). His numbers don’t set the world on fire (36% from the field, 33.3% from three in 22 games this season), but he is more than capable of spot minutes and filling multiple roles for the Grizzlies in a way that Merrill was not. Tillie has now gone from undrafted G-Leaguer to a full-time NBA player.
Taking Tillie’s two-way contract spot will be recent Grizzlies hardship waiver due to COVID addition Tyrell Terry. The 31st pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Terry came out of Stanford with a reputation for being an elite three point shooter and a potentially solid facilitator of offense as well. However, that has not yet manifested itself in the NBA for Terry, and the team that drafted him - the Dallas Mavericks - let him go. Terry is familiar with Memphis - he played for the Grizzlies G-League squad, the Hustle, last season in the G-League Bubble when Dallas did not have a team. Terry made almost 41% of his threes at Stanford in his lone season in college.
Terry is another upside swing. If he doesn’t take advantage of this opportunity this season in Memphis, he will be a low-risk investment in potential talent. If he hits? He is another 2020 Draftee (Desmond Bane went #30, Xavier Tillman Sr. went #35) on this roster that could have a future as the team transitions to contention. And in year three of this regime in Memphis, after seeing the development of so many young players as part of this system, it is safe to say that if Terry buys in he will get better.
Memphis just got younger - one of the youngest NBA rosters cut loose a 25 year old in Merrill and brought in Terry, who is 21. But Terry fits what Memphis is looking for and could provide point guard depth if injury (or a future trade) leads to a change of role (or scenery) or Tyus Jones. Flexibility abounds in a way that was not present before.
Another savvy series of moves by the Grizzlies front office. It may not mean future starters or permanent rotation movement. But it rewards players that have been part of the Grizzlies culture and system. That holds value as the team rises up the NBA ranks.