May 3, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Los Angeles Clippers small forward Matt Barnes (22) shoots the ball in game six of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum. Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 118-105. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Free Agency: Grizzlies Interested in Matt Barnes, Dorrell Wright


After yesterday’s resigning of Jon Leuer and Tony Allen, and after Jerryd Bayless opting into his player option, the Grizzlies now only have their mid-level exception with which to sign players.

The gaps in the Grizzlies roster are still pretty obvious: the Kosta Koufos trade and Jon Leuer re-signing probably went a long way towards filling in the big-man gaps that were so glaring on the bench, and picking Allen back up made sure to keep the team’s identity and defensive integrity in check. As well, Jamaal Franklin and Janis Timma should both provide some much needed floor spacing.

However, neither of the rookies will provide enough floor spacing: the Grizzlies still have a very desperate need for some decent three-point shooters, especially after picking Allen back up. The need is there, and the need is desperate, and the Grizz have $5.15 million with which to plug the hole.

On the other hand, once the shooting deficiency is managed, the Grizzlies don’t need to much to be great. They may not be title contenders with the current roster (would anyone have expected them to get to the Western Conference Finals with a healthy Westbrook?) But they will be better than last-years’ franchise-best squad.

So who is Memphis looking to sign with that money?

At the moment, it’s looking like Matt Barnes and Dorrell Wright are the two guys most getting attention from the Memphis front office, and both players would likely draw the full MLE, meaning that either player would fill out the Grizzlies roster as far as it could go.

The thing that I find most interesting about both of these choices, frankly, is that these are both players who are good, solid players, who more importantly blew up against Memphis during the regular season. Dorrell Wright, typically a nobody, blew up for 28 against Memphis one game, and Matt Barnes had his crazy 6-6 from 3 game in the playoffs.

Wright makes much more sense for me than Barnes, and not because of the typical Matt Barnes stigma. Dorrell has been a much better career 3-point shooter, and while both are good defenders, Wright has a bit more length and better instincts.

The weird part to me about both interests is that neither is really all that stellar from three though, neither player averages over 40% from past the arc. Both are solid (though Barnes’ percentages would probably drop to “mediocre-at-best” on the Grizz), but neither is lights out. I understand the need for maintaining a solid defense with the shooter, but if the one main need is shooting, wouldn’t you want someone who is really, really, good at that one need?

This seems like a very “Memphis” move: prioritize team identity at the expense of the one main metric that you actually need to improve on, and base the understanding of their talent ceiling on games where they were way above their average.

Don’t get me wrong, both players would improve the team significantly (even if most fans dislike Barnes). However, if you’re going for more spacing on a team with no shooters, you need more than “pretty good.” You need someone who will insure that no one ever helps off of them, and neither Wright nor Barnes is that person.

Tags: Dorrell Wright Matt Barnes Memphis Grizzlies NBA Free Agency

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