NBA Free Agency: Memphis Grizzlies Will Use Tyler Dorsey as a Backup Plan

The Memphis Grizzlies declined to extend a qualifying offer to Tyle Dorsey, thus placing him in the NBA Free Agency pool. Could he still return?

On Thursday, just three days prior to the start of NBA Free Agency, the Memphis Grizzlies officially declined to extend a qualifying offer to guard Tyler Dorsey, who they acquired halfway through the 2018-19 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski had the first report.

Now, Dorsey hits the open market among a slew of combo guards looking for their next big payday. Though he is an unrestricted free agent, it is not surprising to see Wojnarowski’s verbiage regarding the Grizzlies holding interest in Dorsey despite Thursday’s decision.

Memphis embarked upon a steal of a deal at February’s NBA Trade Deadline when they finagled Dorsey from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Shelvin Mack. Much of the Grizzlies’ fan base disliked Mack from the start due to the lack of defense and poor shot selection displayed at the backup point guard position. Plus, he was an older veteran taking minutes from rookie Jevon Carter, who was seemingly neglected by the coaching staff all season long.

Tyler came into Memphis with a chip on his shoulder. He, too, was neglected in his former situation, but upon his arrival in a Grizzlies uniform, he made the absolute most of it. Though Memphis suffered a poor 33-49 record this season, Dorsey won games for the Grizzlies. He provided offense for a club that struggled mightily in placing points on the scoreboard. Plus, he was not afraid to create his own shot, even though his shooting was streaky at times.

When considering Dorsey as part of the Grizzlies’ future moving forward, it would make sense for the Grizzlies to consider him for a return in the backcourt. After all, Tyler is just 23 years old. He has chemistry built with former college teammate Dillon Brooks, who he would be playing alongside if he remains in Memphis, Tennessee. This pairing went unopened in 2018-19 considering Brooks did not play in the season’s second half.

While teams with a lot of cap space will be stalking Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, D’Angelo Russell, and other high-ranking offensive guards, Tyler Dorsey is an underrated player on the market. Teams may shy away from him because he has not produced in meaningful games, with meaningful meaning contests as part of a playoff team and/or while in the playoff hunt. It is not Dorsey’s fault he has not been a member of a playoff team in his two NBA seasons.

If paying Dorsey off potential alone, he should be a low risk, high reward free agent option. He will not command major bucks on the open market, and while he may be streaky offensively, it is difficult to come across players who are not afraid of taking the big shot and can also create offensive looks for themselves. These aspects are cause for a new contract as far as the Grizzlies are concerned. They would absolutely be smart in re-signing Tyler Dorsey.

In 21 games (11 starts) as a member of the Grizzlies, Dorsey produced 9.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 21.3 minutes per game. This includes 42.9% shooting from the field (36.6% from beyond the arc). While his overall shooting ranks middle-of-the-pack among the Grizzlies 2018-19 roster, his three-point accuracy ranks fifth. In fact, it was one spot above Mike Conley.

At a 13.1 Player Efficiency Rating (PER), Dorsey has plenty to work on. The good news is that he is still young and has not yet reached his full potential. He showed flashes in his sophomore season post-trade with five performances of 15 or more points, including a 29-point outburst on the road in Orlando on March 22nd, including making 5/10 triples on that particular night.

Do not expect Memphis to hold Dorsey as their No. 1 priority once NBA Free Agency opens on Sunday evening. However, do not be surprised if they bring him back on a new deal. He already has some familiarity developed with the majority of the guys who will be on next season’s roster, and he is an instant offensive spark plug off the bench. In desperate times, he could be a stop-gap starter who oozes confidence.

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While the Grizzlies fell subject to offensive drought on many occasions this past season, Tyler Dorsey is a step in the right direction. If Memphis strikes out on some of their top priorities in NBA Free Agency, it is likely that Dorsey will be a solid backup plan on the cheap. Memphis could do much worse.