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Well the Grizzlies have finally signed Marc Gasol to his near maximum contract of 4 years and a reported $58 million dollars. This gives the Grizzlies a front line of players being paid at the top of their potential earnings with Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

The question facing 3 Shades of Blue is what has that bought the Grizzlies?

To answer that question we asked some of our most senior authors to answer three questions pertaining to the Grizzlies front line. Fred Johnson has been writing about the Grizzlies for a lot longer than 3 Shades of Blue having started posting his opinions on the Grizzlies message board. Red Coleman founded 3 Shades of Blue and has recently returned to the blog after a hiatus. Chip Crain is the oldest and most prolific writer on the blog and took over running 3 Shades of Blue during Red’s absence. The combination of opinions should give a broad spectrum of perspectives.

Question #1: Do you believe the Grizzlies front line is the best in the league?
Fred Johnson: It’s definitely one of the top 2. You look at the Knicks with Melo, Amare and Chandler. After that, I’m not sure. The Lakers have Gasol and Bynum but with Bynum’s injury history and Odom getting traded, I’m not sure who their SF will be. I do like Indy’s frontcourt of Granger, West and Hibbert but they won’t be  better than the Grizz. The Clippers have an interesting lineup with  Butler or Aminu, Griffin and Kaman but that depends on how Aminu develops and if Butler can stay healthy. Kaman will probably be on the downside when Aminu starts blossoming. It could depend on where Dwight Howard ends up.

Red Coleman: If they aren’t, I’d love to see who is. The only team that icomparable in my opinion is the Knicks with Carmello Anthony, Amar’e Stoudamire and Tyson Chandler. However, Chandler’s obvious shortcomings on offense give the edge to the Grizzlies, where all three players are capable of putting up 25 points on any given night–and 30+ in the case of Z-Bo and Rudy.

Chip Crain: I think it is close to the best but not the best. New York’s big three of Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudamire and Carmello Anthony get the nod but it is very close. Defensively I prefer Rudy, Z-Bo and Tyson. Offensively I prefer Carmello, Amar’e and Gasol. No other front line compares top to bottom. 

Question #2: Are you content with paying Rudy $15 million, Z-Bo $15 million and Marc Gasol $13 million this season?
FJ: Right now it doesn’t bother me. If we missed the playoffs or someone underperforms it might but right now I say give it two years. If we hit a ceiling and can’t make the Western Conference Finals in the next two years, I would consider moving one or more of them.

RC: Content might be a slight overstatement, but if Zach and Marc play the whole season at the level they produced in the post-season, and Rudy plays like he was before his injury then, even at those prices, they’ll be a bargain. I think all three are going to be paid fair value for their contributions.

CC: Actually it does. Rudy should have been signed for a lot less. He wanted $65 million at the start of last season but the Grizzlies balked at the price tag. By allowing him to get to free agency he ended up costing the team much more and it is that difference in salary that is strangling the Grizzlies right now in their pursuit of depth.

Question #3: Was Josh McRoberts the best the Grizz could get for O J Mayo? What other options should the Grizz consider instead of Mayo for McRoberts?
I would think the Grizz could have signed McRoberts outright. Obviously since this deal is a carryover from last year, teams know OJ is available and I don’t get the feeling they are offering anything substantial. OJ is a good player but not a good fit on our team. Teams will try to lowball us and get him on the cheap but the truth is OJ is gone after this year, so I say get as many draft picks you can get and save as much money as possible. I know that is not a popular way of thinking and people feel we can get much more for OJ, but I doubt it.

RC: If they look to sign someone, I’d target Joel Pryzbilla, Dan Gadzurich, Kyrylo Fesenko or Troy Murphy. The first three are big bodies who can play defense and block shots. The last is a capable big man who can rebound and stretch the defense with long range shooting. If they want to trade for someone (with Josh McRoberts gone to LA) rumors have it that Marreese Speights can be had for a 2 nd round pick. He’s big, athletic and can finish at the rim. At that price, he’d be a steal.

CC: I think Mayo is seen as damaged goods around the league. His third season was a disaster. He was replaced in the lineup and the last two draft picks can play O J Mayo’s position. Everyone knows the Grizzlies can’t resign him after this season. The only options would appear to be finding a team mid-season looking for that last piece to put them over the top or find a team before the season willing to give the Grizzlies what they need and offer some salary savings. The McRoberts deal would have been the latter. We’ll have to see if the former opportunity arrives. 

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3 Responses to 3 on 3: The Maximum Line

  1. JBLNo Gravatar says:

    Since RC must still be on hiatus, I will play his part…
    Question 1: I believe they are the best, but maybe not the most talented. As it’s already been discussed, the Knicks have a lot of talent, but they haven’t proven that they can work together. After the Anthony trade, the Knicks looked terrible before turning it on a bit before the end of the season. Now they add another piece, and well, we know Dream Teams take some time to gel… The Grizz front three, on the other hand, work well with each other and actually compliment the others’ game.
    Question 2: Well, if they are the one or two best front court in the league, you can’t feel bad for paying them what they are worth… It really comes down to philosophy of how to build a team. I think building from down low out can work.
    Question 3: Yes, unless the right team needs him for a playoff push and they are also interested in signing him long term… I think Josh McRoberts has gotten a bad rap from Grizz fans. I get it, his numbers are not impressive. That is, until you look at his production per minutes and they actually are pretty good… I like OJ. I just wish he was a better fit for this team. But, if he cracks 40% from 3s this year, he becomes a pretty good fit.

  2. WellsNo Gravatar says:

    Well, my opinions on the three questions would be:

    1) Yes, they are the best. The biggest reason I put Rudy/Zach/Marc over the Knicks is established chemistry. While the individual pieces on the Knicks may be better (and I don’t necessarily agree that they are), they have yet to play a single game together. It took Stoudamire and Anthony two months to even begin to look comfortable with each other, and now you are adding in Chandler without any time with the others. In contrast, Marc, Zach and Rudy are starting their third season together. That knowledge of each others styles and tendencies is a huge advantage.

    2) It is what it is. I would love to have had Rudy on a cheaper contract, but the front office took a gamble and Rudy raked in the chips by delivering on his potential. If Rudy had not performed, the Grizzlies would not have needed to bum rush the competition with that contract. But the Grizzlies end up winning as well, because Rudy is continuing to perform at the level his contract suggests he should.

    3) McRoberts is not my preferred outcome of an O.J. trade, if I was forced to make it. Could the Grizzlies get my preferred outcome? Probably not, because making that trade would mean O.J. failed to perform like he could if he desired. I truly think O.J. can deliver at a higher level if he sets his mind to it. Based upon training camp reports, he came into this season having actually worked on improving as a shooting guard in contrast to his first two years where he went and practiced being a point guard. The perfect role for O.J. in the Grizzlies scheme is being the next Ray Allen. To do that, he has to develop the ability to catch and shoot. The summer rumor was that was what he did all summer. If so, and he can deliver in that role. There is no need to trade O.J. If he cannot perform that role, O.J. is not the asset that will get that type of player.

  3. HAYNIENo Gravatar says:

    I realize in order to sign much of a big man, we’ll have to move OJ since Heisley has said that he still is not interested in going into the luxury tax at this point, but what about Brian Cook? He seems like a very good fit for a sparsely used “stretch four,” which I believe is exactly what the team needs. Would he demand a bigger salary than we can afford?

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