Grizzlies get lucky then make their own luck in forward-looking offseason
NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.
Earlier this year, the Grizzlies were stubbornly holding onto Marc Gasol and Mike Conley and slowly slipping into irrelevance.
Now, Memphis is into a promising rebuild that already claims Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant as centerpieces.
All it took was some acceptance, savviness and luck.
Luck played a huge factor part in the Grizzlies’ quick transition. They jumped from the No. 8 seed in the lottery to the No. 2 pick – one of the biggest-ever lottery leaps. (Remember, that counts positively here.) That allowed Memphis to nab Morant just before the draft fell off.
The Grizzlies also got No. 21 pick Brandon Clarke, whom I rated No. 10 on my board. Not only is that great value, Clarke, Morant and Jackson should fit nicely together.
Memphis got the extra first-rounder (then traded up) by trading Conley to the Jazz. That also brought in another future first-rounder, Jae Crowder and Grayson Allen.
Taking Andre Iguodala’s salary when the Warriors wanted to unload it yielded yet another future first-rounder. The Grizzlies might get even more positive assets by flipping Iguodala, who’s away from the team while Memphis explores a trade.
By taking Josh Jackson (himself a talented player who was the No. 4 pick just two years ago but isn’t in training camp), the Grizzlies upgraded prospects from Jevon Carter to De’Anthony Melton.
Memphis also turned Delon Wright into two second-rounders (via sign-and-trade to Mavericks) and Tyus Jones (three-year, $26,451,429 offer sheet unmatched by Timberwolves).
These are the moves, big and small, of a well-run rebuilding team. The Grizzlies are stockpiling assets.
Trading Chandler Parsons’ expiring contract for Solomon Hill’s and Miles Plumlee’s expiring contracts gives Memphis even more ways to construct trades. Don’t be surprised if the Grizzlies get additional picks for taking bad contracts before the trade deadline.
Many questions remain in Memphis: Will Jonas Valanciunas really be worth his big new contract (three years, $45 million)? Is 24-year-old rookie Marko Guduric (two years, $5,375,000) worth the flier? Does Taylor Jenkins have what it takes to be a head coach?
But these are only minor on a rebuilding team. The Grizzlies are doing well in the big picture.
That’s why they’re not done. Iguodala doesn’t fit this team and should be dealt for value. Ditto Crowder.
Putting Zach Kleiman in charge of basketball operations raises eyebrows. Lottery luck certainly made it easier to view him in a favorable light, but so far, the new regime is off to an encouraging start.
Offseason grade: B+