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Reassessing the Grizzlies after the Draft

Taking a look at the squad as we enter the free agency period

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Memphis Grizzlies Introduce Draft Picks Press Conference Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Grizzlies once again were very active in the NBA Draft last week, making a total of 4 selections when most (myself included) were expecting a more quiet draft. The line of thinking with the Grizzlies not making as many moves was based in the fact that the they are already an incredibly young team and didn’t need to add many more rookies to the team. Zach Kleiman put that theory to bed early and made sure to point out that they brought in “mature” rookies pointing out their experience at the collegiate level.

The Grizzlies brought in Jake LaRavia, David Roddy, Kennedy Chandler, Vince Williams Jr., and Kenneth Lofton Jr. on draft night — with Lofton Jr. being an undrafted two-way, and Williams widely expected to fill in the other two-way slot after being drafted 47th overall. To acquire Roddy with the 23rd pick, the Grizzlies shipped out De’Anthony Melton in return for the rights to Roddy and Danny Green.

With a wild night last Thursday, there’s plenty to look at with the Grizzlies as we enter the free agency period later this week. Here are a few of the more interesting topics to look at this week.

So Long, Slo-Mo

2022 NBA Playoffs - Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Kyle Anderson had his role diminished throughout his Grizzlies tenure. He played just 21.5 minutes per game after playing nearly 28 minutes per game last season. Anderson is an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any team he wants, and it’s likely a return to Memphis doesn’t happen.

The Grizzlies’ acquisitions of Jake LaRavia and David Roddy makes it sound like the Grizzlies are ready to move on from Anderson. Though Anderson certainly has his flaws, he was a bit of a do-it-all player for the Grizzlies who does a lot of things that don’t show up on the box score. LaRavia in particular has a great chance to fill Anderson’s role in the rotation. LaRavia can play the small-ball 4 that Anderson played last season, with the flexibility to play the 2 or 3 depending on the lineup. Anderson is a better defender at this point, but LaRavia can hold his own on that end and his knock down 3-point shooting will help space the floor. Even if LaRavia takes time to develop, the Grizzlies have other bodies they likely want to give rotation minutes to.

Santi Aldama figures to be a guy from the team last season who can fill in that role if none of the rookies are ready. The Grizzlies may even go after a stretch 4 in free agency, but with shooting being a priority in the draft, it’s likely Anderson has played his last game as a Grizzly.

Roster Flexibility

2022 NBA Playoffs - Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

One of the reasons people weren’t expecting the Grizzlies to exit the Draft with 4 players was to keep roster flexibility heading into free agency. Instead, assuming Vince Williams Jr. is on a two-way, the Grizzlies have 14 of the 15 roster spots filled already.

At the surface, having just one roster spot to fill over the next few months would lead those to think it may be a boring offseason with the Grizzlies trying to re-sign Tyus Jones or fill his potential spot with someone else. The Grizzlies, time and time again, have proven though they can get creative with their roster spots.

Teams are allowed 20 spots through training camp. And while most teams get their 15 guys (and 2 two-ways) and use the final 3 spots for non-guaranteed deals or Exhibit 10 contracts, the Grizzlies have proven they’ll take on dead money and either take the money into the regular season or eat the money if no deals come to fruition before the regular season begins. They held onto Andre Igoudala and paid him to stay away until they traded him to Miami. They’ve eaten the dead money on contracts from guys like Dion Waiters and Miles Plumlee among others. The Grizzlies, simply put, aren’t worried about the cost of doing business if it means getting future assets or the guys they need.

Danny Green is a prime candidate this season. Memphis will need to guarantee his $10 million for the deal to go through, but Green will be out at the very least until February/April rehabbing from an ACL/LCL tear suffered in the playoffs. Green likely won’t play a minute for the Grizzlies, but they could hold onto his contract and try and flip it to another team by the deadline, using the $10 million for salary matching purposes. The Grizzlies could also decide to be aggressive in free agency and ultimately just cut Green and eat the $10 million.

The Grizzlies also have options to move at the end of their bench. Killian Tillie and his $2 million contract is an easy cut especially coming off a back procedure. Xavier Tillman Sr. could find himself on the outside looking in by the end of the offseason, and moving the remaining 2 years on his deal could probably net the Grizzlies a couple of future second round picks.

Back Up Insurance

The Memphis Grizzlies Introduce Kennedy Chandler Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Tyus Jones’ free agency will be the largest (or second largest) topic of conversation among Grizzlies fans this offseason. Jones has proven to be an integral part of the team over the years, but will certainly have suitors who can pay Tyus well and give him something Memphis can’t — a starting job. The Grizzlies took advantage of Kennedy Chandler’s draft night slide by purchasing the 38th pick from the San Antonio Spurs (and sent San Antonio a future 2nd round pick for their troubles). Chandler is probably too raw to throw into the backup point guard role right away, but could find himself as the long-term solution as Ja Morant’s backup. I expect Memphis to be aggressive in bringing Tyus Jones back, or going after other veteran point guards such as Ricky Rubio or Ish Smith.

GBB Site Manager Parker Fleming did a great job breaking down the Kennedy Chandler situation yesterday.

Backing up the backcourt

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Memphis Grizzlies Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Trading De’Anthony Melton for Danny Green and David Roddy opened up minutes at the backup 2-spot in the rotation. It will be interesting to see how the Grizzlies fill that role next season. They could go with John Konchar — who proved to be an efficient, if not flashy, player off the bench last season. The Grizzlies could also browse the thing free agent market at the position and fill the spot externally. There aren’t a ton of 2 guards out there who would be available and in the Grizzlies price range. The Grizzlies could also be active in the trade market to fill the role, or use it as a chance to let Danny Green prove he’s healthy and keep his veteran presence in the locker room.

Regardless of what happens in Memphis, things around the NBA are sure to be entertaining as we enter the free agency on Thursday.

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