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With the news that the Grizzlies agreed to terms with Beno Udrih on a two-year deal, this could be the first time in quite a while that Memphis brings back the same backup point guard they ended the previous season with.

It also meant that many people began tweeting and pontificating that it signaled the end of the Nick Calathes era on Beale Street. However, I think differently for a number of reasons, and my sources have indicated that the Grizzlies are not intending to cut the former Florida Gator.

The facts:

  • Nick Calathes was offered a contract to return overseas to play for Panathinaikos.
  • The contract is reported to be for 3 years, $6.5 million.
  • Calathes made around $500,000 last season and is slated to make approximately $816,000 for this upcoming season.
  • If Calathes is waived before July 15, his contract is fully unguaranteed according to ShamSports.

Based on my understanding of his contract, if the Grizzlies decide to waive Calathes before his contract became guaranteed, then he would be free to return to Europe to accept that contract offer. However, if they hang on to him for a few more days and then waive him, he would have to clear waivers before he could return to Greece. That simply won’t happen, and here’s why.

Nick Calathes suffered through a rocky start to his rookie NBA season, but found his stride about a third of the way into the season. By the time he was forced into the starting lineup in February, he had proven himself to be a competent contributor. Near the end of the season, he was looked upon as a strength of the team.

On the eve of the playoffs, the team was notified that Calathes was going to be suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy in the area of performance enhancers. The league levied a 20-game suspension, and Calathes has served the first 7 games of that while Beno admirably served in his stead during the opening round playoff loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

At this point, while Calathes still has 13 games remaining on his suspension, he is viewed as a very capable floor general on an incredibly favorable contract. There are a number of teams that would snatch him up in an instant if here were waived. That’s the first reason not to waive him.

The second reason is even more obvious: He’s a quality back-up on a cheap deal! This is what small market teams yearn for and require in order to remain competitive. If the Grizzlies want to follow the model set forth by the San Antonio Spurs, these are the kind of contracts they have to have.

The final reason is the one that we don’t want to talk about, but must be addressed. If a significant injury occurs, having not one but two quality back-ups to turn to is not just a luxury, it’s a necessity. Other than the not-yet-addressed issue of small forward (more on that tomorrow), point guard is the one area that the Grizzlies can least afford to suffer an injury. “As Mike Conley goes, so go the Grizzlies” — it’s not just a saying, it’s a fact.

The team will hang on to Nick Calathes, and he will have to wait until next year to cash in on his impressive level of success thus far in the NBA.

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One Response to On Point

  1. […] attractive option to keep around behind Mike Conley … especially considering Calathes may or may not be eyeing a move back overseas after what I think we can call a fairly rocky first year in the NBA. […]

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