NBA Off-Season Preview: Memphis Grizzlies
Record (42-40) The Grizzlies have a rare combination of players that make for an offensive gameplan that has been seldom used since the 80’s and 90’s. They have two huge pillars who take up the painted area in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph that have a skill set most big men don’t have in this league. With the ability to bully opponents down low by posting up and solid enough mid-range jumpers to not be left open, these two make it hard on a defense. They are also led by their point guard Mike Conley, who’s a pretty tough cover himself. As much as they enjoy mucking it up, this season would get too ugly, even for them. Now we all know injuries happen along the course of a season, but for this team, it looked as if they were trying to break the record for most injured players on a team during one season. Every time they would try to overcome the loss of one of their teammates, it would just carry a domino effect to where the next guy would follow suit and be forced to wear a suit on the bench during games. In a heavily dense Western Conference, they would finish 42-40 as the seventh seed in the playoffs. Although there were easily six teams better than them in the playoff rankings, going through a season and losing guys like: Mike Conley (foot), Chris Andersen (shoulder) Marc Gasol (foot), Brandan Wright (knee), Jordan Adams (knee), Zach Randolph (knee) and Matt Barnes (hamstring) sitting out at times, it made it hard to even compete. At one point this season they actually addressed the backup point guard situation and traded for Mario Chalmers, who would thrive in his new role. However he also would catch the injury bug and tear his Achilles. Shortly after, he would be cut from the team just for Memphis to free up a spot for a D-League player. The Grizzlies were scrambling just to find guys that could actually put on a uniform and get in the game. San Antonio would then put the metaphorical nail in the coffin and sweep them out of the playoffs to put them out of their misery. Looking forward, it probably can’t get worse for Memphis… until it can. The Grizzlies star point guard may choose to test the free agent waters and leave the squad. This would leave Memphis with no offensive weapons on the perimeter. For Memphis, free agency might be a hard place to accumulate talent. Now it’s not like there isn’t an abundance of talent on the market, the issue is that Memphis is a small market and doesn’t have the aesthetic appeal of cities like Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Boston or New York. There are cities that have small markets that can accumulate talent, such as a Cleveland, but the difference is that Cleveland has a home born superstar that can attract free agents just by his presence, and the Grizzlies don’t. They may be able to get role players like shooting threats on the perimeter: J.R. Smith, Ryan Anderson, Mirza Teletovic, and if they’re lucky and Washington decides not to bring back injury prone Bradley Beal, he could be an option as well. They will also need wing players who can attack and create, a guy like Nicolas Batum fits this mold really well and so would a guy like Chandler Parsons. Or maybe, just maybe, they decide that they want to blow this thing up and start over. There are contenders that the Grizzlies can trade Gasol and Randolph to that would need players of their caliber. The Grizzlies in turn could get some pieces, or they could trade those two for draft picks to get a younger core. Memphis does have the 17th and 57th pick in this year’s draft, and although there is talent, if they stay complacent with their picks, they likely won’t have a young player who can make an immediate impact. To get that, they would need to trade up. One option to get a high pick would to be to give Danny Ainge a call and see if the Celtics would be interested in a trade. A hypothetical trade could be Memphis sends Marc Gasol to the Celtics and Boston sends Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk and the third pick to the Grizzlies. The Celtics are a team that has championship aspirations and as a good as a third pick could be, odds are they won’t be able to make a significant enough contribution to make Boston a strong enough contender against the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. A player of Gasol’s caliber can give the Celtics a two headed giant of him and Isaiah Thomas that could wreak havoc. On the other side the Grizzlies would get a young player (possibly an explosive Buddy Hield), a solid 3 and D wing player in Jae Crowder, and Kelly Olynyk that can be a stretch four in a league that has become infatuated with the three ball. This trade would work for both sides, but more importantly for the Grizzlies. They would improve at three positions and they would save $11 million in luxury tax. The Grizzlies have a lot of decisions to make, but there are options at their disposal to improve.
NBA Off-Season Previews
Atlantic Division: Boston Celtics – Brooklyn Nets – New York Knicks – Philadelphia 76ers – Toronto Raptors Central Division: Chicago Bulls – Cleveland Cavaliers – Detroit Pistons – Indiana Pacers – Milwaukee Bucks Southeast Division: Atlanta Hawks – Charlotte Hornets – Miami Heat – Orlando Magic – Washington Wizards Southwest Division: Dallas Mavericks – Houston Rockets – Memphis Grizzlies – New Orleans Pelicans – San Antonio Spurs Northwest Division: Denver Nuggets – Minnesota Timberwolves – Oklahoma City Thunder – Portland Trail Blazers – Utah Jazz Pacific Division: Golden State Warriors – Los Angeles Clippers – Los Angeles Lakers – Phoenix Suns – Sacramento Kings