With the season coming to an end after a tough loss in game 7 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Memphis Grizzlies offseason is officially upon us. Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien is gearing up for his 2nd offseason, and this one will surely prove to be a big one in my opinion. Grizz fans who are all still recovering from a whirlwind season that had as many ups and downs and twist and turns as an all day pass at Libertyland and now they all are wondering was this the end of an era like some suggest or will the front office make minor additions to the team to help us get over the hump. This edition of Noise From The Sain Asylum will take a quick look at what I think will happen. Keep in mind that everything that I am posting here is strictly my opinion and is based on my personal preference and is not based upon fact or information from the front office.
First of all I believe that the Core Four will all be here next season. Marc Gasol is coming into the last season of his contract, and Mike Conley has two years left on his. These two are deemed by many to be the only two untouchables on the team and the ones that we will build the franchise around for at least the not so distant future. For the second straight post-season Tony Allen has put the front office in a conundrum by having a tremendous playoff series guarding Kevin Durant that attracted national media attention taking his massive following and adoration from Grizz fans to an all time high in spite of the late season issues and antics that had many feeling like the team would part ways after the season. His defense has proved many wrong that question his value, including myself and at this point trading Tony Allen would almost be like the Ravens trading Ray Lewis.
And then there is Zach Randolph. When Zach was suspended for Game 7, many on Twitter thought that Z-Bo may have played his last game as a Grizzly. There are several reasons why I think that this will not happen and I will explain those now.
- Zach’s trade value doesn’t match his contract: It will be hard to find a team that is willing to trade for Zbo at this point of his career and absorb the $16.5 million contract that the Grizz owe Zach.
- Front office won’t take that PR hit: Under the Pera Era, the front office has shown that even though they didn’t retain Lionel Hollins and traded Rudy Gay that they realize that Zach Randolph, as well as Tony Allen have a different level of admiration in this city and trading him will be hard to do without a major PR hit.
- It’s been stated that Zach wants to retire here and after being suspended and then eliminated I think that he will be even more willing to opt out of his contract and resign here for less money. I fully expect Z-Bo to opt out very quickly in free agency and resign at a number like 3 yrs. $30 million freeing up money to sign other players. Zach knows this teams weaknesses as much as anyone else and I think that he will do what’s best to help make that happen.
And what are some of those weaknesses? In my opinion the cliché need for a shooter is a passing desire. More so than a traditional Kyle Korver, Marco Bellenelli type specialist, a glaring need for this team is someone that can create off the dribble and get to the free throw line as well as knock down 3 pointers at a decent clip. This team can become very predictable at times and in today’s NBA its almost impossible to win when your team is scoring so many points from actual made baskets as opposed to getting more free throw attempts. Pounding it inside is cool and has worked fairly well, but this team needs a run stopper on the perimeter badly. Someone that can flat out go get a bucket or free throws when we need it. There is absolutely no one on this roster that can do that and it definitely showed itself costly in the Thunder series.
Here is a look at who I think will be back next season and after that I will discuss the names that I am either questionable about or don’t think will be back.
Won’t Be Back:
With Johnson being an unrestricted free agent we really don’t know what he will do. With sudden drop in playing time its also not clear what Coach Joerger sees in him going forward. I’d say that there is about a 60% chance that he returns. With Nick Calathes serving a now 13 game suspension we will definitely need a reliable backup PG to start the season. This may ultimately force us to sign Beno who had a great playoff series to a one-year deal. This would ideally be non-guaranteed but I doubt that that would happen and Beno will have several suitors this summer. Even though Jon Leuer is a great value for his contract I wouldn’t be shocked to see him traded for a young player with potential on the perimeter who may also be on a cheap contract or maybe as a part of a bigger deal. If Prince is not dealt this summer then trust me it will not be from a lack of trying. I honestly don’t think that the FO and Coach Joerger value Prince the same way and I also think that they will try aggressively to add a starting small forward to this team to replace Prince. The only thing that keeps him from being someone that I feel wont be absolutely won’t be back is because of his lack of value even as an expiring contract.
As for players that I feel will absolutely not be back, Quincy Pondexter if healthy could very well be dealt and I feel like he may have played his last game here already. He’s simply not good enough in my opinion to be a rotation player and get minutes from Franklin who is more athletic and has a higher ceiling. Ed Davis is a free agent and I don’t see the team resigning him especially since he previously rejected a deal last summer that was in the range that the Grizz would want to offer him. And then there is Kosta Koufos. This one may be a shocker to many who see him at a great value at his contract and one of the best backup bigs in the league but there are two reasons why I think Kosta will not be back. First of all I believe that if the Grizz will acquire any starter level perimeter player that they will be requesting Koufos (as well as the rights to our 22nd pick in the draft) in the trade. Whether it’s an Eric Gordon or a Thad Young as rumored by Cam Rose of the Cam On Sports Show, I don’t see any team making a deal with us without him being included. I also think that Kosta will be expendable because I will go on record as saying that it is a pretty much a given that Pau Gasol will join his brother Marc and sign with us this summer. I also feel like Kosta not being here and Pau being the ONLY big off the bench may be a major selling point for Pau returning to Memphis.
Regardless of what goes down this Summer its evident that both the front office and Coach Joerger desire to have more athletic playmakers on this roster to properly run Joerger Ball the way that Coach Joerger envisions it. Look for the Grizz to make a splash this summer and prepare our team for Grizzness As Usual In 2014-2015.
Follow Me on Twitter @SainAsylum