- May 23, 2012
- AFL Club
- Other Teams
- Tottenham Hotspur, New Orleans Pels
2018/19 Record: 33-49 (14th in West)
2018/19 Stats: Off Rating 106.1 (27th), Def Rating 108.8 (9th)
Grit 'n' Signed: Tyus Jones (3/26), Andre Igoudala (Dubs), Jae Crowder (Jazz), Grayson Allen (Jazz), Josh Jackson (Suns), De'Anthony Melton (Suns)
Tennessee-ya: Mike Conley (Jazz), Delon Wright (Mavs), Avery Bradley (Lakers), Justin Holiday (Pacers), Chandler Parsons (Hawks), C.J. Miles (Wiz)
Drafted: Ja Morant (#2), Brandon Clarke (#21), Marko Guduric (n/a)
Guards: Morant, Jones, Allen, Melton
Wings: Crowder, Igoudala, Anderson, Jo Jackson, Brooks, Guduric
Bigs: Ja Jackson, Valanciunas, Clarke
Team Salary 2019/20: $128 million ($4 million below luxury line)
Est. Salary 2020/21: $58 million ($60 million cap space)
The Griz are squatting on valuable property. Technically these are black bears, but Martin Luther King helped us see that all bears are equal.
Do you think you could send a message through to Memphis for me? I'm having trouble getting them to answer the phone at the moment.
Anyway, ask them: what flight is Iggy on? Ta.
Rob P Linka, Los Angeles
Jeez Rob, sounds like the Griz are really starting to grind your gears.
After making a belated start to their rebuilding phase after ten golden years of grit, Memphis has really gotten into the swing of tearing down the foundations and starting anew. Gasol? Gone. Conley? Adios. Parsons? We hardly knew ye.
In their place stand a lot of fresh young faces, plus a ramshackle collection of veterans and hideous contracts traded in for further draft collateral. And while the Griz may as well kick the tyres on the likes of Josh Jackson*, Grayson Allen and De'Anthony Melton, it's hard to imagine that valuable vets like Andre Igoudala and Jae Crowder will be content to stick around and play babysitter. There are plenty of playoff calibre playoff teams who would like a 3 & D wing.
* The Griz having Josh Jackson and Jaren Jackson Jr on the same roster is almost as vexing as when you tell people that you like that Joe Jackson song 'Stepping Out', and they say: "Oh yeah - which member of the Jackson Five was he again?"
Unfortunately for some teams, some of them dressing in purple and gold, the Griz have no real incentive to simply buy out the remaining year of Igoudala (in particular) or Crowder's contracts. These guys will be in demand, and even though the final price may not be that high - perhaps a second round pick or two - assets are still assets, and rebuilding small market teams are seldom in a position to turn down said assets.
Now, if you happen to be a playoff team who is several future first and several future second round picks in the red already - not naming names - then the prospect of a mini-auction is not something that you would savour. Time for a game of patience, set to the tone of the LeBron body clock.
Politics makes strange bedfellows.
Now hear this,
I decree that Rob P Linka has no case. It is only just and right that the one they call Igoudala play for the Grizzlies this year, as per contract.
I have spoken.
D. Ainge, Massachusetts
Well then, I guess that settles it.
Given that 'When is Iggy going to be allowed to join <insert your favourite LA team here > to try and win another ring?' is going to be the biggest - no wait, make that the ONLY - Memphis story this year in mainstream sports media, we may as well prepare ourselves for the faux-ethical debate.
Do the Griz 'owe' it to Iggy to buy out his contract, having scored a future first from the Dubs to take on his salary in the first place? Maybe, as holding him 'hostage' may seem to some as an abuse of team power, but then again it's not as if players have been powerless in the league as of late.
Memphis on the other hand might very well say that they're more than happy to let Iggy join a contender - for a price. Given that any team Igoudala joined would essentially be getting a valuable piece at a minimum salary, perhaps the Griz are well within their right to demand some compensation for footing the bill, so to speak.
However Iggy's departure from Tennessee is not so much a matter of 'if' as of 'when' - and this is where it gets interesting. If the Griz decide on a game of brinkmanship and hold onto Igoudala until the February trade deadline, then does he play in the interim? The team has already allowed him to skip the opening of training camp given the situation - will he demand to be put on ice until a solution can be found?
Now, factor into this that Boston owns Memphis' first round pick in the 2020 Draft, unless it falls in the top six selections - if they want to keep their pick this year, then the Grizzlies will want to finish with one of the four worst records in the league in order to safeguard that pick. In which case, both team and player might be happy to let him cool his heels for half a season, so that neither health nor 2020 draft pick is endangered.
As such, we may be left with rather a farcical impasse this season with healthy vets sitting out parts or all of 50 games because it is in neither the team's, nor the player's interest that he pull on a Memphis jersey. Meanwhile Boston watches on, nervously...
Memphis has a cunning plan.
It has come to my attention that the Grizzlies may have designs on keeping their first round pick this year... and also that this possibility seems to fill the writer of this pitiful preview with some glee.
What your inferior brain fails to grasp is that the Celtics have a fail-safe Plan B - we simply get Memphis's 2021 first round pick, unprotected! Oh Billy King, the pathetic Grizzlies have surpassed thee!
Danny A, Boston
Oh wow, I haven't heard gloating like that since Boston stole Kyrie Irving from the Cavs and won a championship because of it... oh, wait.
Nevertheless, it is true that the rebuilding Grizzlies have a problem - their pick is headed to Boston, if not this year, then next. So, what to do?
Having just scored Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke in the 2019 Draft, it could well be that Memphis decides that the rebuild is over, and they may as well try to make the playoffs given their tenuous hold on this year's draft pick.
The other option is that the Griz tank this year in the hope of keeping their 2020 pick - at a guess, they would have to out-tank up to two of New York, Charlotte, Cleveland, Washington and Atlanta - and focus on making the playoffs in 2021.
As to how they would go about making the latter happen, having up to $60 million in cap space available at the end of the season is a good start. Memphis typically hasn't been the sexiest free agent destination, but then again they'd be competing against a small field in this particular off-season.
And while the 2020 free agent crop is not an earth-shattering one, there are pieces out there that would make sense for the Griz. Presumably the team eventually plans to build around the core of Morant, Jackson and Clarke, leaving the wing positions as the most urgent to address.
The Kings and Nuggets are two teams who have shooting guards out of contract in June - for instance if the Kings decide to pay Buddy Hield, would that leave the door open for Memphis to give Bogdan Bogdanovic an offer too good to refuse? Ditto re. Denver and Malik Beasley.
Meanwhile Jaylen Brown and the Celtics still haven't come to terms on a deal yet, while the likes of Otto Porter could also be on the market. If the Grizzlies' young core show out this season, suddenly they might seem rather more attractive to a young free agent in search of a payday. Spending your way out of a tricky situation might not be the most sophisticated plan of all time, but it is a plan nonetheless.
So let us hope that those feeling confident in their Memphis future blue-chip stock do not end up merely feeling the blues instead.
The Griz are a fixer-upper.
Hello darkness my old friend,
Years ago I wrote a song about poor boys, pilgrims and the broken-hearted being received in Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee. Looking at the list of Grizzly 'ins' for this season, I'm starting to think that I was on to something.
Paul (you can call me Al though) Simon, New York
Thanks for your contribution, Al. Once again you've proven that we here at Bigfooty are all about the poetry, and not crass, tawdry in-jokes.
Memphis's roster is indeed a bit of mish-mash at present. On one hand you have your young cornerstones - Morant, Jackson, possibly Clarke or even Dillon Brooks - and on the other the grizzled (had to be done) vets who were brought in more to provide future draft picks rather than future leadership.
There is also the 'salvage' scrapheap - Bruno Cabocio, Josh Jackson, Allen, Melton - and then there also exists a strange collection of players who may or may not have a part to play in Memphis's future, namely: Jonas Valanciunas, Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson. This is a strange trio indeed.
All three are in their mid-20's and under contract through 2022. And while Anderson was signed with last season's 'final Grit n Grind hurrah' in mind, the freshly inked deals for Valanciunas and Jones are intriguing indeed.
Jones is a capable back up point guard who should be able to spell Morant as he learns on the job - it's fair to say that a back-up point guard probably wouldn't be top of most rebuilding teams' priorities, but I guess it doesn't really hurt too much at $8 million a year or so. Delon Wright probably would have done the job here too, but nabbing Jones plus two future second round picks isn't terrible logic.
Valanciunas meanwhile is the most curious case of all. Given the Grizzlies have invested heavily into Jaren Jackson and Brandon Clarke as their (presumed) front court of the future, how does the Lithuanian fit here exactly? Also while Valanciunas racked up monster per-minute numbers, including with the Griz, he has never really seemed like a huge difference maker on-court. Is he a safe 'tank captain' who will soak up minutes and shots without affecting the win/loss ratio too drastically? Does he start or come off the bench? Will Memphis trade him down the road, and will he even have a market? It's really hard to tell.
More broadly, it'll be interesting to see whether the kids - including those cast-offs from other teams - get most of the minutes in a development season for the Grizzlies - or whether the veterans, young and old, are sprinkled in among them. Again, the draft pick thing. Also given the Grizzlies currently have 15 players under contract - and that doesn't include Cabocio, whom they would presumably like to bring back - then the roster obviously needs some surgery yet.
Good news for Igoudala and for bargain hunters alike, then - come to Memphis, where the roster is bloated and weird, and spare parts are cheap.