3 things we’ve learned about the Memphis Grizzlies this offseason

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) - Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) - Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Memphis Grizzlies did not sit idly by this offseason after their crushing first-round loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. They substantially improved the roster, but how they did so offers fascinating insights into the future of the franchise.

The Grizzlies made their biggest trade since the July 2019 Mike Conley deal, finally using some future draft capital and Tyus Jones’ expiring contract to acquire a necessary wing defender and playmaker in Marcus Smart.

The 29-year-old is a fantastic fit for all the reasons spelled out here, yet he is not the splashy addition many Grizzlies fans yearned for like, say, OG Anunoby or Mikal Bridges.

Memphis also used its open roster spot to sign a big name in free agency, though the player attached to that name is a shell of his former self.

The Grizzlies signed former Memphis Tigers legend and 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose to a two-year, veteran minimum deal ($6.5 million guaranteed). Rose provides stability at point guard during Ja Morant’s 25-game suspension and much-needed veteran leadership once Morant returns.

But he likely won’t be in the playoff rotation, after averaging just 5.6 points with the New York Knicks last season.

Of course, it is worth noting that the Grizzlies might not be done.

The 15-man roster is currently full, but they have reportedly completed a sign-and-trade for Dillon Brooks that generated a $16 million traded player exception they could use to bring in a new talent without sending anyone out in exchange (just draft picks).

That said, such a move would require them to waive someone already on the roster though it is something to consider for future trades either this offseason or at the deadline.

The Grizzlies also added Houston Rockets guard Josh Christopher in the Brooks sign-and-trade. They then completed another deal with the Phoenix Suns, adding two first-round pick swaps and power forward Isaiah Todd at the cost of three second-round picks.

That leaves them with 17 players for 15 spots. Neither Christopher nor Todd are likely to stick on the final roster, so it seems GM Zach Kleiman may be lining up another trade.

But there’s still a lot to learn from the moves the Grizzlies have made thus far.

Memphis has essentially flipped Dillon Brooks and Tyus Jones for Marcus Smart and Derrick Rose this offseason. Because Smart is a significantly better player than Brooks and fits in better next to Memphis’ core players, the 2023 roster is an improvement from last season even without the growth you would expect the Grizzlies’ young players to make.

But a year ago, Memphis’ future looked even more promising.

The Grizzlies had just finished 56-26, had over $20 million in cap space, and were flush with first-round picks. It appeared they had unlimited potential to add a fourth star to the emerging trio of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Desmond Bane.

Now, the Grizzlies are coming off a season where they regressed to 51-31 with a swift first-round exit. They likely won’t have major cap space for the foreseeable future, and they’re “even” on first-round picks after sending out two in the Marcus Smart deal.

The Grizzlies’ future is far more concrete than it was last year. The steps they have taken this offseason hint at what that future will look like.

With this in mind, here are three things we’ve learned about the Grizzlies this summer.