The Memphis Grizzlies had to endure a ton of drama off the court last season en route to a first-round playoff exit against the lower-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. But make no mistake about it, the Grizzlies remain one of the teams with the brightest outlooks in the league, especially if Ja Morant ever figures out his off-court troubles.
In free agency, the Grizzlies decided to let go of Dillon Brooks, the team's master instigator. They watched him sign a four-year, $86 million contract with the Rockets, trading for Marcus Smart instead to help fill the defensive void Brooks will leave behind.
Beyond that, however, it was mostly an uneventful offseason for the Grizzlies — except for a few moves. They signed Derrick Rose, the 34-year old veteran and former MVP, to a two-year deal, giving the team yet another solid presence in the locker room alongside Smart.
Moreover, they gave Desmond Bane, one of the team's best players, a five-year, $207 million extension, which ensures that the Grizzlies will be keeping their talented core of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Bane for the foreseeable future.
It may not have been the most drama-filled free agency period for the Grizzlies, but they did well nonetheless. Below we will go more in depth, grading the Grizzlies' aforementioned moves.
Grizzlies free agency grades
Signing Derrick Rose to a two-year, $6.6 million deal: B+
When the Grizzlies traded away Tyus Jones in the deal that brought in Marcus Smart, they dealt away one of the best backup point guards in the association. Jones was always ready to fill in for whenever Morant was out with injury or out due to suspension. Jones was a major reason behind the Grizzlies' ability to remain competitive even without their best player on the court.
Thus, adding a backup point guard in free agency became of paramount importance. And swiftly in free agency, the Grizzlies got their man, signing Derrick Rose to a low-cost, two-year deal.
It wasn't the easiest past season for the former MVP. With Jalen Brunson, Immanuel Quickley, and even Miles McBride ahead of him in the New York Knicks' rotation, Rose barely saw any playing time. He played in just 12.5 minutes per night across 27 games, averaging career-lows across the board. It's not the most unfair thing to ask in the world whether Rose still has something left in the tank.
But Rose has shattered those doubts in the past. And perhaps with a greater opportunity ahead of him with the Grizzlies, he bounces back with aplomb during the 2023-24 season.
And this is without even going into the intangibles he'll bring to the Grizzlies locker room. Rose, by all accounts, is a solid veteran presence to have around, someone who can act as a mentor for Ja Morant. He'll also draw the adoration of the crowd in Memphis, as he played for the Memphis Tigers during the 2007-08 season in his lone collegiate campaign.
At such a low price, there's little to no risk for the Grizzlies in bringing in Rose aboard. The hope for the Grizzlies is that Rose returns to form to fill their need for a backup point guard.
Signing Desmond Bane to a five-year, $207 million extension: A
It's hard to think about Desmond Bane's long-term extension as being anything other than a huge win. At first glance, this kind of money looks onerous for someone who hasn't made an All-Star team. But this is the going rate for players of Bane's quality anyway, and the Grizzlies had to pony up this kind of money to keep him in Memphis for the long haul.
Bane, before he suffered a broken toe, was on a tear to begin the 2022-23 season, drawing All-Star consideration as he made it rain from deep. He also showed improvements when it comes to creating off the dribble, taking huge strides in his pull-up game. He also averaged a career-best 4.4 assists per game, showing than he's more than just a shooter from beyond the arc.
Only 24 years old, Desmond Bane has a ton of room left for improvement. To begin the 2023-24 season, especially, he should be spreading his wings as the Grizzlies' number one option on offense. And with there being 13.6 more shot attempts to go around per game in the aftermath of Dillon Brooks' departure, Bane will have plenty of opportunity to blossom into an even better scorer, perhaps challenging for the 25-points per game mark.
Given Bane's rapid ascent towards stardom, it's not too much of a stretch to think that he'll continue improving. And the Grizzlies will certainly be glad that they'll be the team reaping the benefits for the next six years.