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?
FJ: 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.