Title-Focused Moves Expected in Memphis


Today is the day NBA fans have all been waiting for.

At 6pm ET, NBA Free Agency will open for teams to agree to terms with free agents on new deals. After drafting four rookies in last week’s draft, the Memphis Grizzlies are undoubtedly looking for ways to improve their team.

On the afternoon of free agency, there have been very few reports of signings and rumors tied to the Grizzlies. However, the Grizz Lead guys (Nathan Qualls, Ian Sparks and myself, Chris Ingram) will break down our thoughts on what the team may look to accomplish in free agency and what their ideal moves would look like.

What needs do the Grizzlies need to address the most heading into free agency?

Nate: Veteran three-and-D guys. Memphis hopefully addressed this for the future in last week’s draft, but they don’t have the luxury of waiting on those guys like they did with Ziaire Williams this past season. 

The timeline to win big has been moved up, and having reliable vets and role players at your disposal is essential to accomplishing that. If they can get someone to fill those roles around Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr., they’ll solidify their contender status.

Ian:  Veterans who can step in and provide some stability to the young squad that Memphis has. The front office addressed some of those needs in the draft, taking talented shooters who can fill it up from outside. Now, they need guys who have experience and can perform consistently on both ends of the floor. 

Chris: The consensus here is that this young Grizzlies team needs to add veteran presence to the fold in some form or fashion.

When it comes to position and skillset, I’ve been on record saying that the biggest need this off-season is shot creating, 3 point shooting, and versatile bigs.

With the looming question surrounding Tyus Jones and if he will return to Grind City next season, my personal preference would be to address the backup point guard and shot creating need all in one with a true combo guard. The Grizzlies have thrived while being considered one of the deepest teams in the league top to bottom, but the playoffs have shown that having an eight or nine man rotation with versatility is more important. 

With the Grizz being in win-now mode, I believe this is the off-season to address those concerns immediately if possible.

What is a possible move that would excite you the most if the Grizzlies made it?

Nate: Besides a Kevin Durant trade that was completed without giving up Bane or Triple J? I would absolutely love a move for Cam Johnson. I’ve been adamant that the Grizz need to get big guys like Mitchell Robinson or even Mo Bamba to play next to Jaren in the future, but Johnson fills the three-and-D need listed above and is essentially what Memphis hopes first round pick Jake LaRavia could turn into.

I’m living and dying with the claim that the main thing the Grizz need is good/great role players. They’ve already got their cornerstones. While some of the sexier names out there like Zach LaVine or Collin Sexton would be just as exciting (if not moreso), snagging Johnson would be a great move for Memphis if the Suns are still open to moving him.

Ian: The obvious one would be a Kevin Durant/Bradley Beal type move that would bring some serious star power to Memphis. As we know, that would require giving up one of your important core pieces which is something the Grizzlies would want to stay away from. 

Chris: The Grizzlies theoretically have their core set between Ja, Bane, Ziaire and Jaren. At this point you need key talents to surround them with. The “super teams” are proving to not be as profitable on the court as they are on paper.

Cost-effective moves are best. If Collin Sexton sees the vision of being a super sixth man and occasionally closing games, signing him to a 15-20 million dollar per year deal would insanely improve the Grizzlies’ depth with him being able to play the point and shooting guard spots. 

With Washington rebuilding, I would love to see a Dillon Brooks-for-Kyle Kuzma swap. Another versatile forward that can get you a bit of everything but knows how to play his role.

Lastly, a versatile big like Isaiah Hartenstein or Mo Bamba would take this team to another level. Putting one of them next to Jaren Jackson Jr. would be scary defensively for any team in the NBA, and both possess crafty tools on offense to open up the floor.

What is a move that would disappoint you the most if the Grizzlies made it?

Nate: If they made no moves. Resigning Tyus Jones counts as a move, but even if that happens, there seems to be a real opportunity to go and get guys that are at least solid role players. The trade market is in the dumps, so there’s a chance to trade for players at low asking prices. Also, the free agent market is decent enough to bring in players to help you win now.

While I am a heavy believer in Ziaire Williams’ potential to take a leap next season as well as the newly drafted guys’ abilities, it would seem like a waste to not bring in another immediate contributor. The timeline to win is now, and the front office needs to treat it as such.

Ian: What would disappoint me the most is if they do not sign another guard that can either play alongside Ja or lead the second unit. While I love Kennedy Chandler and what he brings to the table, he’ll need time to develop and learn from guys that have been in the league a few years.

Outside of that, if Memphis doesn’t get somewhat of a big name, that would be disappointing as well. So far this off-season, there have been a lot of quality players given the Ed Monix treatment. If you know, you know. A lot of deals are getting done for very cheap with players like Christian Wood going to Dallas for essentially the sentimental value of Boban Marjanovic.

Chris: The De’Anthony Melton trade has already disappointed me. Many people feel it wasn’t needed to get the player they traded into the draft to grab at 23. I was a firm believer he would be traded this off-season, but in conjunction to grab a bigger name player or a right now contributor; not saying David Roddy will not be.

However, if you follow me in any capacity then you know that I feel strongly about the Grizzlies needing to move on from Dillon Brooks for them to take the next step. It’s obvious that a move as such would require us to bring in someone that is either as talented or more talented than Brooks, but fits the team better as a whole. 

I’m not a fan of waiting until the trade deadline though, especially since it’s very rare that teams that make major moves at the deadline actually go on to win the title. If you have plans to move from Brooks, you do it now before training camp or you don’t do it at all and risk losing him next off-season for nothing.

Realistically, what do you anticipate the Grizz will do in free agency (specific players etc.)?

Nate: I anticipate they will sign one of either Jones or Sexton and a solid forward. There’s a good chance they swing for upside with either a bigger guard or a big, or maybe even both.

But the chance to bring Jones back on a one year deal seems like the best option at guard, so that move is more likely to come in the form of a big such as Jalen Smith, TJ Warren or the aforementioned Mitchell Robinson. If they can trade for someone like Cam Johnson or Harrison Barnes, all the better.

Ian: Honestly it depends on what happens with Tyus Jones. I don’t know if I can see them bringing back Kyle Anderson for sure, either. If they fail to re-sign Jones, maybe a Colin Sexton or someone of that liking would be a deal that makes the most sense.

An offseason of Sexton/Jones — along with the draftees that just joined the team — would be scary good for Memphis. If they can add in a potential big man like a Mo Bamba or Isaiah Hartenstein that could play alongside Jaren or even off the bench, then they’re in the money.

Chris: There’s a reason that Zach Kleiman and company brought in four rookies this past draft. My initial thought is that they have some type of intel that a big name player is heavily considering Memphis and will need those contracts to help round out the roster once other moves are finalized. Something big is 100% being talked about ahead of Free Agency opening.

If the big fish deal falls through, however, I personally believe Isaiah Hartenstein is a lock to be a Grizzly target in free agency with him being unrestricted and the Clippers just locking up Ivica Zubac on a multi-year extension.

I also imagine the Grizzlies take a shot at Bruce Brown as well. They lost Mr. Do Something, but Brown is Mr. Do Everything, literally. Lastly, if a big name player isn’t obtained through trade or free agency, you can almost stamp that Tyus is back next year as well.


As you can see here, the Grizz Lead guys are on a lot of the same pages in regards to what players make the most sense for the Grizzlies to pursue. The question remains, who do the Grizzlies feel are the players that allow them to be the most competitive next year for a championship?

This front office is known for keeping their moves close to the vest, so even if something gets reported as rumor, its hard to take it at face value until the move is announced officially.

No matter what, moves have to be made as the Grizzlies are currently at 16 players signed through next season – excluding their two way signings which bump that number up to 18.

Could they simply waive a player and go into training camp as currently constructed? It’s a possibility.

Is it probable? Absolutely not.

Expect the Grizzlies to make some noise almost immediately as the clock strikes 6 tonight.

About Chris Ingram

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