The NBA Draft was the big story yesterday, and the big trade that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets made some waves as well. Buried underneath all of the other hubbub, however, was one somewhat surprising Marc Stein tweet:
I’m told Grizzlies G Jerryd Bayless, in mild surprise, has elected to invoke $3.1 million player option for next season to stay in Memphis
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 28, 2013
Yes, that’s right. Jerryd Bayless will be back next year!
Once you get over any dismay you may experience, which is totally normal (I feel your pain), let’s examine his decision. It’s not just surprising, it’s also a little curious.
Bayless was considered unlikely to return, and he might have been able to secure a higher-paying deal than the $3.1 million he’ll earn next year with the Grizzlies. While he wasn’t a star player by any means, he did play a considerable role off of the bench for Memphis, backing up both guard positions, and there are no shortage of teams that could use a scoring guard off of the bench like Bayless.
Last season, Bayless averaged 22.1 minutes per game, and chipped in 8.7 points per game on 41.9% shooting from the floor and 35.3% shooting from beyond the arc. The 3.3 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 0.7 steals weren’t bad at all, and extrapolated to 36 minutes, his stats come out to 14.1 points, 5.4 assists and 3.6 rebounds. Efficiency will never be one of Bayless’ strong suits, but he put up decent numbers from either guard slot and was a player who could create for himself off of the dribble.
That said, it might have been Jerryd’s postseason effort that made him hesitant to test his market. His scoring rose a little to 9.3 points per game, but everything else fell off of a cliff–particularly his percentages.
Bayless’ field goal percentage dropped to 35.8% and his three-point percentage fell to 30.5%, both dreadful marks. His inability to make shots regularly hurt the Grizzlies, who were in dire need of consistent three-point shooting from their backcourt, and the San Antonio Spurs exposed this en route to their sweep of the Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals. Bayless might want to return for one more season and leave a better impression before signing a long-term contract.
Getting Bayless back might come as a bit of a surprise to the Grizzlies, but they’ll certainly welcome him. It may not be in their best interest to rely on him as their lead guard off of the bench given his inefficiency, but with a limited amount of players who can create for themselves from the perimeter, Bayless does serve a niche purpose.
That said, Memphis would probably benefit from bringing in a guard who can consistently shoot the three – a true three-point specialist. While Bayless was one of the Grizzlies’ better shooters last season, he’s not reliable enough as a shooter nor is he the type of player to just stand in the corner and wait for the open three to come to him.
With Bayless returning, Memphis can turn their immediate attention to re-signing impending free agent Tony Allen, last year’s starting shooting guard ahead of Bayless. Free agency begins this Monday, July 1st, and it’ll be interesting to see which additional guards, if any at all, the Grizzlies sign to compliment Bayless on the bench.