It has been two weeks since the Grizzlies were eliminated from the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder, and while everyone involved would rather still be playing, the franchise can now focus its efforts on improving the roster to be competing this time next year.
The offseason is great for many reasons, but above all is that hope springs eternal as the summer approaches. Teams will add fresh talent through the draft, fill glaring needs via free agency, and see players improve their games by working tirelessly through the dog days of August.
Though the Grizzlies do not have a sexy draft slot, and are pretty much cash strapped in terms of adding big names to the roster, the club is poised to improve in the coming months and propel themselves to the elite of the NBA.
How could they do it? I thought you’d never ask.
NBA Draft: June 26th, 2014 (Draft Lottery held May 20th 2014)
While the drama is pretty much over concerning where the Grizzlies will pick (number 22 overall), the speculation over who Memphis may select is just beginning. Reports are out that they have interviewed Florida Gators forward Patric Young and Michigan State guard Gary Harris. Harris is a top-10 prospect according to ESPN’s Chad Ford, so the odds are barring a Manziel-esque drop down the draft board he will not be available at 22. Young however is a different story.
According to Ford’s Top 100 Young is a second round talent, but with only one choice in the draft if the Grizzlies want him, number 22 might be where he lands. He likely will play the four at the next level, and is a defensive oriented player that can rebound and block shots with a ton of energy, however he is still a work in progress on the offensive end. Sounds like a future Beale Street Bear if I have ever heard one described.
Other intriguing prospects ranked around where Memphis would pick are Syracuse forward Jerami Grant, Clemson forward K.J. McDaniels, NC State forward T.J. Warren, and, of course, UConn guard Shabazz Napier. Any of these players would help the Grizzlies, so there are some options for the club in this deep draft.
Free Agency: Starts in July
The Grizzlies need to worry about only four players: Zach Randolph, Mike Miller, Beno Udrih, and Ed Davis.
Davis is restricted, so Memphis will have the option to retain him if they feel the need to. Miller should get a decent offer from his current team (I expect him to return on a team-friendly deal), and it’s likely that Udrih is not back with the club next year. Those are the easier ones.
Randolph, however, is a different beast entirely. Many speculate that the team’s leading scorer will opt out of his contract and test the free agent waters in order to get himself a long-term deal. He is the biggest domino to fall in free agency as far as the Grizzlies are concerned because he will set the tone for the strategy the team will follow the rest of the way. I expect Randolph to return on something like a three or four-year deal that will get him more guaranteed money in the long-haul.
Other things to watch for in the free agency period are the filling of needs (stabilizing the small forward spot, adding three-point shooting/athleticism), any cheap veteran talent the club can add, and the team’s pursuit of Pau Gasol.
As always, we will have your updates on all the latest news, rumors, and happenings around the Grizzlies and the NBA.