The Memphis Grizzlies have been one of the most active teams in the offseason thus far. The front office have been extremely busy and have pulled the trigger on various deals that likewise have varying implications for the team moving forward.
Below, we highlight the three biggest takeaways from the Grizzlies’ offseason dealings thus far, and we’re happy to say that all in all, it has been quite a good summer for the Memphis faithful.
Turning the Page
At this point, the only thing that remains abundantly clear for the Grizzlies is that they are now entering a new phase in their franchise. They traded away Marc Gasol to the Toronto Raptors in the middle of last season, and parted ways with Mike Conley as soon as the season ended, which are the most clear cut indications that the team have decided to turn to the next page in their history books. This duo has been the cornerstone of the organization for more than a decade, and with both guys now out of the picture, the coast has been cleared for a full rebuild.
Another noteworthy offseason move by the Memphis front office is undoubtedly the trade that sent Chandler Parsons to the Atlanta Hawks. The Grizzlies have finally found a team that was willing to take on Parsons’ monster deal, but it wasn’t until Memphis had to shell out close to $70 million in salaries for three years — for a guy that played in a grand total of 95 games in three seasons, averaging 7.2 points, 1.1 three-pointers, 2.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 0.6 steals in 19.6 minutes per contest. This gargantuan misstep will forever remain with the Grizzlies, but surely, ridding themselves of the emotional baggage brought about by Parsons’ contract should be considered as an absolute win.
A Successful Draft
The Grizzlies had a very impressive performance on draft night. First off, they got extremely lucky by winning the second overall pick in the lottery, and it was pretty much a given fact that they were going to select Murray State freshman Ja Morant. Nevertheless, what they have in the 19-year-old is their point guard of the future. The addition of Morant definitely does well to soften the blow of losing Conley, and it does seem that Memphis have successfully acquired their cornerstone superstar of the future. The timing was simply impeccable.
Aside from Morant, the Grizzlies also added 6-foot-8 forward Brandon Clarke via a draft day trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. While not of the same magnitude of the Morant acquisition, Clarke might still prove to be a useful addition for the team moving forward. The 22-year-old has shown a noteworthy potential to eventually develop into a great two-way player, and should slide in nicely alongside Jaren Jackson Jr. Oh, and one more thing about Clarke — he just bagged the MVP award for the recently-concluded Vegas Summer League as he led the Grizzlies to the championship.
Jonas Valanciunas, who arrived in Memphis as part of the Marc Gasol deal, performed above expectations for the Grizzlies last season. He was justly rewarded by the front office, as both camps agreed on a three-year $45 million deal to extend the free agent’s stay in Grind City. This was the right play for Memphis, as JV should serve as a steadying force for the team for the next three or so years. The Grizzlies could also turn him into a valuable trade asset in the future, and if and when Memphis decides to do so, they certainly won’t have a shortage of suitors for Valanciunas.
The Grizzlies did lose Delon Wright to the Dallas Mavericks, though, so this was a bit of a downer in an otherwise impressive offseason. Nonetheless, Memphis were quick to find his replacement in restricted free agent Tyus Jones on a three-year, $24 million deal, so he should be able to fill the void left by Wright.
Memphis have left a lot to be desired over the past few years. They have been in basketball purgatory for quite some time, and this summer has been an excellent start to kick off their new era. The team is not expected to contend for a playoff spot in a ruthless Western Conference next season, but all things considered, that’s okay. After all, Rome was not built in a day. The most important thing here is that the Grizzlies have successfully laid out the foundation to what should be a very promising next few years for the franchise.