The Memphis Grizzlies have been marred by injuries throughout the 2023-24 campaign and, as a result of losing two of their foundational players in Ja Morant (shoulder) and Steven Adams (knee) for the year due to health-related ailments, the team has recently been awarded with two disabled player exceptioned with worths of $12.4 million and $6.3 million, respectively.
What this means is the team is now able to add new players to the roster via free agency, waivers, or trade whose salary fits into the confines of these established values.
Considering the state that the Grizzlies are in, many have voiced differing opinions regarding how they believe the front office should go about using these newly attained assets, with some suggesting they should be proactive and bring aboard fresh new faces while others are hopeful the franchise stands pat and prioritizes the development of their current crop of project youngsters.
Frankly, both trains of thought are undoubtedly sound and have their pluses and minuses attached to them. However, because of this, it makes deciding on which path to choose rather difficult.
Pros of Memphis Grizzlies using their DPEs
The biggest pro to utilizing one of, if not both their DPEs is that the Grizzlies could realistically land a player of interest without having it count against their salary cap.
Though they may not be the title-contending team many had hoped they'd be coming into the season, come next year's campaign when their core will presumably be fully healthy right from the jump one should expect them to be right back in the mix within the upper echelon of the Western Conference standings.
By using their exceptions, Memphis could make some seriously proactive moves by getting a jump start on acquiring players they may have their eyes set on pursuing during this upcoming offseason.
Guys like Alec Burks, Taurean Prince, and Talen Horton-Tucker, for instance, are all rather viable options for Kleiman and co. to target during this summer's free agency period and who are currently attached to contracts that would fit into one of the team's DPEs.
Getting them in the door early and letting them get familiar with what the Grizzlies have to offer could be a valuable advantage for them to snatch them up to a longer-term pact.
Of course, aside from pursuing ready-made veterans, the front office could also look into adding some underperforming youngsters who possess rather high-upside within their respective games.
From OKC Thunder's unicorn Aleksej Pokusevski, who possesses an interesting two-way skill set that could help address Memphis' small forward position to recent second-overall pick James Wiseman who, with the proper tutelage and attention, could theoretically develop into the future of the team's pivot position, there are a slew of possible options the team could look to absorb into the exception
Be it to benefit them in the immediate future or for the long-term, there are many reasons for the Grizzlies to try and use up one of if not both of their DPEs.
Cons of Memphis Grizzlies using their DPEs
While the pros of such an idea are headlined by the concept that they would be bringing aboard coveted talents, easily the most glaring con is that said individuals could very well wind up eating into the valuable playing time that many of the team's promising youngsters are currently coming across.
Because of this, many such as Locked on Grizzlies host Joe Mullinax believe the club should just allow these exceptions to go untouched.
""They're useful tools potentially and if the right deal comes along you use them but I don't want to do anything that takes GG Jackson minutes at the NBA level away aside from his own two-way contract and not being able to convert him in another way. I don't want to do anything that takes away from seeing if Vince Williams Jr. can truly be a top-eight rotation guy, which means a playoff rotation guy when this Grizzlies team is trying to be good next season... If these disabled player exceptions come in [and] if you use that guy and actually play them it could inhibit that some.""- Joe Mullinax
Both players Mullinax mentioned in GG Jackson and Vince Williams Jr. have been two of the biggest success stories of the year when it comes to their increase in minutes as a result of the team's plethora of injuries and player absences, with the former posting 13.0 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 58.1 percent from the floor and 56.0 percent from distance over his last six games while, during this same time frame, the latter is seeing averages of 18.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.8 steals, and just shy of a block per game while shooting 54.8 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from distance.
On top of this, Williams managed to translate his high-end production with this new-found opportunity into a multi-year contract with the franchise.
With the impressive play put forth by these aforementioned ballers, along with the promising production that others such as Jacob Gilyard and even newcomer Scotty Pippen Jr. have had with these increased opportunities, there are now serious conversations being had over whether the Grizzlies have a few more long-term roster mainstays within their midst than they previously thought.
With this in mind, providing them with as much playing time as possible moving forward could be extremely valuable for the team's player development efforts, and adding more heads into the lineup is something that would minimize the opportunities they desperately need at this point in their careers.