Kids are getting ready to head back to school soon and heading into August the citizens of Grizz Nation have been restless to say the least. With maybe the most inactive part of the NBA off-season still ahead of us I thought that I should use this edition of Noise From The Sain Asylum to recap what the Grizz have done so far as well as take a look at what other teams around us have and more importantly haven’t done and how it may effect us this season.
In my opinion the Grizz had one of the most underrated drafts this offseason. Any time that you come into a draft with one draft selection at the end of the first round and come away with TWO of the top 5 players on your draft board you came out on top. Mark my word Jordan Adams will be the shooting guard of the future for this team providing efficient scoring and insanely quick hands on defense, packaged in a skill set that I cant recall ever wearing a Grizz uniform. Coming into the draft there were many that would have been fine with drafting Stokes at 22 and calling it a night and to literally steal him from Utah by a false-threat of drafting Rodney Hood before Utah if they didn’t give them their 2nd round pick, as reported by Cam Rose on his radio show, was one of the most cunning and shrewd draft day moves possible.
You know that you are a major part of the off-season when you get a category all to yourself. Many including myself would have preferred that Zach Randolph had opted out and taken a lesser deal this summer but him deciding to take a two year extension for $10 million dollars for the next two seasons after this one is one that can set us up to have room under the cap in 2015 and maybe even more importantly 2016. Zbo who is 33 years old still has good years left in him and having him here for the next three seasons is good for both basketball and non-basketball related reasons. I will admit that $16.5 million dollars is a hard pill to swallow this season but Randolph like no other player in Grizz history is a special case that this franchise, this city and this fanbase has to make special exceptions for. Even with his flaws and skill set that seems to be a thing of the past in today’s NBA, Randolph is this franchises really only true cornerstone player and him coming back was a must.
So far in free agency the Grizz have done a great job considering that we only had the mid-level exception and bi-annual exception to spend. At seasons end we had Ed Davis, Mike Miller, Beno Udrih, and James Johnson that were all set to be free agents and of the four Udrih was the only one that was retained. Bringing back Udrih not only solidifies the back-up point position but also provides another deep threat that the team didn’t have last year. The jewel of the off-season was the signing of Vince Carter, the legendary wing whose high flying days are over but his productivity remains effective. The 37 year old Carter will surely provide high volume outside shooting as well a more dynamic and well rounded game than Mike Miller did last season. Carter is viewed as one of the top 5 pick & roll players in the NBA by Grizzlies Coach Dave Joerger and that will be a refreshing addition to have another ball handler and playmaker on the floor with Mike Conley. Not re-signing Davis & Johnson also can be viewed as addition by subtraction considering both were players that got inconsistent minutes and with them being gone now leaves the door open for players like Kosta Koufos and Jon Leuer to get consistent playing time. As fans we all remember how Koufos and Davis seemed to get playing time based on drawing straws sometimes and the excessive depth lead to Joerger at times not knowing who to play. Eliminating those players makes the rotation more well defined.
What Has Happened Around Us
So far this off-season the Grizz have dodged their fair share of bullets in the Wild Wild West. With Carmelo Anthony deciding to stay in New York instead of joining with Kobe Bryant which probably would have prompted more players to join them the Lakers have pretty much locked themselves into a lottery spot next summer. The Rockets blunder of an off-season including using a team option to make Chandler Parsons a free agent this summer when they could have simply brought him back for another year. What was rumored to be a favor for Parsons backfired when he bolted to the Dallas Mavericks after they offered him a 3 yr. $46 million deal that Houston didn’t match. Houston who also struck out on Chris Bosh who was all but a done deal to come this year, also signed Trevor Ariza whose reputation of being a contract year player only is a definite downgrade from Parsons. Phoenix wasn’t able to land any of the rumored targets that they had and it would be fair to believe that they will not have the same type of success that they had last season not to mention the loss of Channing Frye. Dallas may be the only team that may have gotten marginally better than last season after making their annual platoon sway of random talent to surround Dirk Nowitzki. The Clippers added Spencer Hawes who is an effective stretch big but not someone that in my opinion will effect them much. This is a lot better than the possibility of them adding Paul Pierce which would have solidified their small forward spot. The Thunder still don’t have a low post threat after heavily courted Pau Gasol headed East to sign with the Bulls. Portland and Golden State made no major moves outside of Livingston in GS but both teams still lack toughness in my opinion and really don’t appear to be any better than they were last season if not worse.
Are We Done?
The off-season is not quite done yet and as Chris Wallace stated after the Vince Carter press conference the Grizz could very well not be done dealing. It could be something simple like dealing a player like Jamaal Franklin away for little return ala Tony Wroten last season to free a roster space or a 2 for 1 or 3 for 2 player deal to solidify the starting small forward position. We have also added former Denver Nuggets, Wake Forest and Air Force head coach Jeff Bzdelik to the bench as an assistant and rumor is that possibly even more assistants or talent coaches may be added as well. This has probably been one of the smartest off-seasons that I can remember for the Grizz. One that keeps us posed to still contend in the always brutal Western Conference as well as set our sights on the future.
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