The Memphis Grizzlies were ravaged by injuries last year, and their season culminated in a meek first-round series loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The Grizzlies then went out and made a splash by signing a guy who’s had plenty of injury problems of late in Chandler Parsons, but if healthy the core of Parsons, Mike Conley (armed with the biggest contract in NBA history) and Marc Gasol is quite formidable. How did Memphis do this summer?
1. Best move of offseason
Andrew Ford: Making a big splash in free agency isn’t typical of the Grizzlies, so it was a bit of a surprise that they were able to go out and sign a highly coveted wing in Chandler Parsons. Heading into the offseason, the Grizzlies’ biggest hole on the roster was probably at small forward. Parsons doesn’t simply fill that hole. He provides skills that the Grizzlies have been missing for years, namely dead-eye perimeter shooting and secondary ball handling on the wing. Concerns abound about Parsons’ health, and this could easily turn into a bad contract if his knees don’t hold up. However, that’s a chance the Grizzlies arguably had to take with their window to make a deep run in the playoffs quickly closing.
Kelly Scaletta: Signing Chandler Parsons, without question. The Grit-n-Grind can only take you so far. At some point you need a guy who can actually shoot the basketball. The Grizzlies were 27th in three-point makes last year and 29th in three-point percentage. I mean, you don’t have to be the Golden State Warriors, but when your claim to fame in shooting is you were better than the Byron Scott-coached Lakers, you gotta do something. Parsons adds that and was a huge get for Memphis.
Jason Patt: There are some concerns about the Chandler Parsons contract given his recent knee troubles, but it’s still a pretty darn big deal that the Grizzlies were able to land a significant free agent like him. Parsons is a versatile player who will add elements to the Grizzlies’ offense that they’ve been lacking, so hopefully his health does hold up.
2. Worst move of offseason
Andrew: Signing Mike Conley was completely necessary, but it’s also fair to call it the worst move of the offseason. The Grizzlies would not have found a better option than Conley to run the show next season and probably the season beyond that, but handing out a contract that large to an injury-prone guard approaching age 30 means there is a decent chance that the latter years of his contract are going to be a bad value for the team. If the Grizzlies didn’t resign him, though, they would be reeling just to stay relevant sooner rather than later.
Kelly: They had a terrific draft, made some great trades and had the best free agency this side of Golden State. I refuse to answer this question on general principles. If there is any hesitancy, it’s with the coaching change, but I want to give David Fizdale a chance before I rip them for it.
Jason: It’s hard to come up with something truly bad the Grizzlies did. You could argue the lack of an established backup behind Mike Conley isn’t ideal, but perhaps Tony Wroten can find his game again and/or rookie Wade Baldwin develops quickly.
3. Offseason grade
Andrew: B+. They re-signed a really good point guard, brought in wing help in the form of a guy who has played at a high level for several seasons in a row, and even drafted smart by selecting two high upside guys in Wade Baldwin and Deyonta Davis. The Grizzlies managed to plug a lot of holes without giving up too much, and those moves will keep them in the Western Conference playoff race.
Kelly: A. As I said, this side of Golden State, no one had a better offseason.
Jason: A-. A lot of money went to Chandler Parsons and Mike Conley, but that’s the price of doing business. Memphis might be locked into a core that seemingly doesn’t have championship potential, but it’s still a really good group that should keep them competitive for years to come. The Grizzlies also had a nice draft by snagging Wade Baldwin and Deyonta Davis, who surprisingly slipped to the second round.
4. Early prediction for 2016-17
Andrew: Kevin Pelton’s model has the Grizzlies winning 39 games, but I think that’s crazy low. The Grizzlies had awful injury luck last season, and that derailed an otherwise very good, experienced team. Assuming good luck blows through Memphis this season, I think the Grizzlies are poised to win 45 games and make the playoffs as a No. 5 or 6 seed. From that point, they’ll be an incredibly tough out if all key players are healthy.
Kelly: 55-60 wins and second round of the playoffs.
Jason: It’s impossible to predict health, but this is a team that can finish in the top four of the Western Conference if things break right. I’m thinking close to 50 wins and a possible playoff series victory.