People keep saying Memphis should be a big player in this summer’s free agent market. I question the intelligence of such a conclusion.
Sure the Grizzlies have moneythey couldspend. Actually the Grizzlies, barring a win in the lottery (quit laughing – It could happen) will HAVE to spend money in free agency. The Grizzlies are currently below the minimum salary for an NBA team.
So there will be a lot of talks between July 1st and July 8th (the official day to begin signing free agents) but I doubt Memphis will be a big player in the open free agency period. It is far more likely that the Grizzlies will attempt to make their movesvia a Sign and Trade or outright trade to acquire some veterans to strengthen the bench.
Why? Because there aren’t many good players available this summer in free agency. Carlos Boozer may opt out of his contract but after his season and the economic situation in thecountryI doubt he will. Who would give up approximately $12.5 million next season just to see what could be available in free agency? There aren’t a lot of teams that will even compete for him this summer as most teams are trying to clear space for the 2010 class anyway. The best players matching the profile Chris Wallace and Mike Heisley have advocated are restricted free agents and any offer will likely be matched (see Josh Smith last summer for a reminder).
So it would appear that if the Grizzlies truly want to improve their team with veterans then the best way to achieve that would be via trades not free agency. The best trading partners would be teams that underperformed or at least disappointed last season.The question hanging overeverytrade ideawill be how desperate are teams owners right now that they would give up a quality veteran for adraft pickor expiring contract type of player. I believe thebest trading partners right now are going to be the Clippers, Bobcats, Suns and Spurs. They all haveplenty of veterans and/or disappointed their fans last year so they needsome youngblood.
Thequestion will be how valuable are veterans on a team loaded with young talent?Do you sacrifice a budding player for a maxed out vet? Phoenix tested the waters when they asked for all ofthe Grizzliesyoung talent except OJ for Amare Stoudamire andthe Grizlies said no. One has to wonder how many more teams will be willing to sacrifice current performing veterans for prospects for the future especially if finances are still troublesome for the owners.