As of now, the Memphis Grizzlies are a few pieces away from title contention, and Tayshaun Prince might be tying their hands up financially. I don’t have anything against Prince, the problem is his contract is large at around $7 .7 million. The even bigger problem is that his production is sharply declining and he’s not nearly as good as a he was a few years ago. The Grizzlies’ current core of Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol aren’t necessarily old, but they are aging. Three out of the four are 30 or older, and the title window with those players will probably be two to three more years should they all stay together. It’s imperative that the Grizzlies address their need at small forward now to maximize the time they have to stay in contention.
The one reason that Tayshaun’s contract would be appealing to other teams is that there is only one year left. An expiring contract is always more appealing than a big long-term one for an aging player. One of the reasons that it is even more important to move Prince is because of what Memphis did in the draft. They didn’t draft a small forward and instead took a shooting guard and power forward. Getting Jarnell Stokes in the second round was arguably one of the steals of the draft, but it was the Jordan Adams pick that was questionable. He is a pure shooting guard which means that he more than likely won’t be able to spell Prince or anyone else at small forward. This could end up forcing Tony Allen to small forward at times, which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but he is undersized and would provide little offense at the position. The draft was even more frustrating because players such as Rodney Hood were still on the board. Hood could have contributed at small forward right away, and if we had to keep Prince then it wouldn’t be as difficult to hang onto him for a year. But the draft has come and gone, so small foward will need to be addressed via trade and free agency.
I adamantly believe that an upgrade at small forward should be priority number one when it comes to acquisitions this off-season. Picking up Stokes helped shore up the front line, but we need scoring or the unfortunate reality is that we will just be a “tough out” in the playoffs again. If the Grizzlies are smart this off-season, then they can move closer to title contention, but they need to figure out their salary situation which will more than likely require moving Prince.