Reports are trickling out that the Grizzlies made a contract offer to Tony Allen today. Allegedly, the deal is for 4 years, $16 million, which is in the ballpark of what I’ve been saying on Twitter that he’d be offered.
Ok, if the Grindfather accepts that deal or gets it bumped up to $4.5 million per season and the 4th year is not completely guaranteed (as I’m anticipating), then what? Well, the Grizzlies will likely target a shooter or a third center as a cheap option to fill out the roster. Or maybe they’ll pursue the 25-year old Italian SF we heard about over the weekend, Luigi “Gigi” Datome.
Either way, with TA back in the fold and Jerryd Bayless’s surprise decision to opt in to the second year of his contract, the major moves are likely done. People want to hear about the team making a bid for a guy like J.J. Redick or Kyle Korver — but where is the money going to come from and where are they going to get minutes at?
Here’s what the lineup would look like:
PG: Conley/Wroten/FA Signing
SF: Prince/Pondexter/Greene or Datome
C: Gasol/Koufos/FA Signing
There aren’t any minutes to give to Franklin or Leuer right now — and those are guys that I think could contribute in certain situations. Re-signing Tony/bringing back Bayless means we’re going to get more of what we saw last year, albeit with a better front-court rotation with the swap of Darrell Arthur for Kosta Koufos. Signing an Alan Anderson or Anthony Morrow sounds good, but they simply won’t be able to get on the floor. Outside shooting will continue to be an issue for the starting lineup with both TA and Tay as the presumed starters once again. So that’s that.
But what if TA gets significantly more money from Denver (or even the Clippers) despite the Grizzlies’ obvious built-in advantage of not having a state income tax in Tennessee, something neither of TA’s other two suitors can boast? What if the front office declines to match that offer and TA leaves the (We Don’t) Bluff City? What is Plan B?
Scenario 1: The natural inclination is to immediately say: Go get another SG! Like…J.J. Redick. I’ll be honest — I’m a big fan of Redick’s game and how much he’s developed as a player since entering the league. He’s become a complete player, is one of the best shooters in the game, and hates losing more than he enjoys winning (an important distinction). If TA isn’t coming back, the team will have around $8-9 million under the luxury tax to try and sign someone. That’s plenty to sign a guy like Redick (or Kyle Korver). Plug him into TA’s starting spot, add better offense/worse defense, and then roll on. It’s not a bad plan.
Scenario 2: What if TA wants to go to Denver and New Orleans signs Tyreke Evans to that reported offer of 4 years, $44-48 million? Where does Andre Iguodala go then? Wouldn’t he look great in Memphis? While there is the issue of diminishing returns with him, the fact that he is very versatile (as pointed out in this Grantland article by Jared Dubin) could start, provide great defense and much better offense than TA would be hard to ignore. Even better (in my mind), you can have Iggy start at SF and move Quincy Pondexter and his improved perimeter shooting into the starting lineup at SG. A lineup of Conley/Pondexter/Iguodala/Randolph/Gasol with Wroten/Bayless/Prince/Davis/Koufos off the bench is nothing to sneeze at. The front office isn’t inclined to go into the luxury tax for no good reason, but that team is a title contender for the next 3 years easily. Might have to do a sign-and-trade with TA + one of their trade exceptions for a re-signed Iggy to make it work. But it’s not the worst idea ever, for sure.
Scenario 3: The fans burn down the FedExForum in protest and the team is moved to Kansas City immediately. Just kidding.
Scenario 3: The Grizzlies engineer a S&T of TA + Jerryd Bayless + a trade exception to Chicago for Luol Deng and a re-signed Marco Belinelli. This is obviously my least favorite deal for a number of reasons, but it gives both teams players that can help them in their respective situations. Deng as the starting SF and Belinellis as 6th man are both upgrades for the Grizzlies, while the Bulls could certainly use TA alongside a healthy Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler (who has shown he’s ready to start) on the wings of Tom Thibodeau’s suffocating defense. Deng has a big contract, but it’s an expiring deal, so he’s a one-year rental at worst in essence. And Bayless might not be the greatest combo guard in the league…but at worst he’s a less mercurial version of Nate Robinson. Something to consider.
There are other scenarios involving players like Eric Gordon, Monta Ellis, J.R. Smith, Corey Brewer, et al, but I’m sure you can figure out the big holes involving each one of those. I fully expect Tony Allen to re-sign with Memphis, but it’s nice to explore the other options just in case.