NBA Offseason Preview: Memphis Grizzlies

No team was more diametrically opposed to the Philadelphia 76ers way of thinking last year than the Grizzlies. Memphis suffered injury after injury to nearly every player on its roster and still managed to make the playoffs. They could have rolled over, dealt their players for future assets and looked to reload this summer. They didn’t and should be applauded for their valiant effort.

Done applauding? Because this offseason is going to be very difficult for Memphis. They have almost no young talent, Marc Gasol is aging fast and Mike Conley could very well leave.

To make things even tougher the Grizzlies also a top-5 protected first round pick to Denver next season, which means unless they completely bottom out they are unlikely to add youth soon.

To top it off, the coach who just got the team to scrap to the playoffs, Dave Joerger, bolted for the Kings and the Grizz will have to integrate a new voice. Still, David Fizdale is a highly respected coach and I took it as a great sign that Erik Spoelstra worked so hard to help him prepare for his interview.

The Grizzlies only have six players owed guaranteed money for next season, as well as a $9 million player option Lance Stephenson, so there will be some cap space. I still think Mike Conley comes back. He will do the dance and take the free agent meetings, but he’s built up so much in Memphis and it will be very difficult for him to abandon that. Given the slim nature of the point guard market this summer, Memphis probably can’t afford to lose him. A max contract will soak up the vast majority of their space and may look bad as Conley ages, but their best option is probably to run back the core of the roster, reload with some cagey veterans and shoot for another playoff run.

Memphis should think about using this offseason to set up the following February. If they have won enough games to make surrendering the pick to Denver easier to swallow, they could then try and move Gasol or Conley for future assets. Still, after years of Grit N’ Grind, I won’t be surprised if the Grizzlies fight their way back quicker than I expect.

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