It recently broke that Jerryd Bayless has decided to opt into his player option for next season, despite popular understanding having him opting out. His contract was so small, and he had performed so well for most of the season, that everyone had expected that Bayless would opt out and look for a fatter, longer deal.
But he didn’t. He opted into being payed $3,135,000 next season for the Grizzlies again.
Similarly, during the draft, the Grizzlies traded Darrell Arthur and the 55th pick of the draft for Kosta Koufos. Most people are really supportive of the trade, from both sides, but it does leave a major question unanswered:
With all these pieces moving unexpectedly (or…not moving unexpectedly) what does the Grizzlies cap sheet look like now?
The cap sheet actually looks remarkably similar to how it looked a week ago. While Bayless’ decision certainly has major repercussions on what the Grizzlies decide to do in Free Agency — though they could never do much to begin with — it doesn’t change what they Grizzlies could really do. It just narrows the playing field a little bit.
To begin with: the Koufos trade actually saved the Grizz money, albeit nothing significant. Arthur was on the cap sheet for $3,231,683 next season, while Koufos will be owed exactly $3 million.
What this all sums up to: so far, the Grizzlies have added $748,677 to the payroll between Koufos, Franklin, Timma and the loss of Arthur. Now adding Bayless back into the roster and the cap sheet, that puts the Grizzlies’ cap hold at $63,567,514.
Now that Bayless is coming back for sure, Memphis only has the possibility of losing one major player: Tony Allen. For what it’s worth, Kenyon Dooling will be a free agent too. However, he’s on a minimum contract he can be resigned with essentially no penalty to the team; though I’d be shocked to see him get picked up again.
There’s no way that the Grizzlies are going to get under the cap now, so we’re mostly concerned with the luxury tax threshold, estimated at $71.6 million.
So here’s the trick: the Grizzlies are over the cap at about $64 million. How can they resign Tony Allen and still get as much as possible out of this free agent market? What all can they do, exactly?
The Grizz don’t really have that many options. If Memphis officially chooses to let Tony Allen walk, they’ll have the Max Mid-Level exception (estimated at $5.15 million), and, barely, the Bi-Annual exception ($2.016 million) with which to sign players. See an edited list of who the Grizz could get with those exceptions, here.
The only way that the Grizzlies get their cake and eat it too (i.e. sign Allen and get both exceptions) would be for Tony Allen to resign with the Grizzlies at only $2.2 million or less. This would be a $1.1 million dollar discount from his previous contract. Since he’s probably earned himself a fatter purse with his performance these last few seasons, I wouldn’t count on him taking that discount.
However, if Allen resigns at anything less than $7.3 million (as opposed to the $3.3 mil he was paid last year) the Grizzlies still get the max-level MLE out of this offseason.
If Allen resigns with the Grizz at anything more than $7.25 million, which would be truly absurd, the Grizzlies would be both in the tax and limited to only the tax-payers mid-level exception to sign players — estimated at $3.183 million for next season.
Realistically, there’s no way that the Grizz end up paying TA more than $7.25 million. Even that number is a little crazy; as much as I love the Grindfather, he’s not anything more than a good role player, even if he is the identity of the Grizzlies.
So, really, the question becomes: do the Grizz let TA walk so they can use the bi-annual exception and save cap space, or do they resign him and live with just the MLE?
Personally, I don’t see how Memphis can let Allen walk. The Grindfather really is the core identity of the team, and no player worth only $2.018 million can possibly replace what he brings.
So that’s where Memphis stands as of now.
Let us know, what do you think?