Offseason Grades: Memphis Grizzlies
The Point Forward will grade every team’s offseason over the next few weeks. Click here for the complete archive.
Additions: Mike Miller, Kosta Koufos, Josh Akognon, Nick Calathes, Jamaal Franklin (No. 41 in 2013 draft)
Losses: Darrell Arthur, Austin Daye, Keyon Dooling, coach Lionel Hollins
Other Moves: Re-signed Tony Allen, re-signed Jon Leuer, promoted Dave Joerger to head coach, drafted Janis Timma (No. 60, expected to stay overseas)
What Went Right: Memphis would have been a fine team without Allen, but by re-signing him, the Grizzlies retain their spiritual leader/top perimeter defender and preserve the foundation of a Western Conference finalist. It’s that familiar group — Allen, point guard Mike Conley, power forward Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol — that will largely determine the Grizzlies’ fate, though the supporting pieces now provide an even better fit than before and stand to complement what Memphis already does so well.
For one, trading Arthur to Denver for Koufos not only gives Memphis a more traditional reserve center but also opens up even more minutes for the underused Ed Davis to make his mark. Between them, Koufos and Davis help complete a four-man group that should hold both big positions steady, with Leuer available if foul trouble or offensive spacing becomes an issue.
Miller and Akognon (should he make the final roster after being claimed off waivers from Dallas) address Memphis’ paucity of perimeter shooting, and both come on minimum deals that should help keep the Grizzlies under the luxury-tax line. Memphis is big enough and exceptional enough on defense to beat most opponents despite spacing-challenged lineups, but it’s important to have players such as Miller as a situational counter.
Joerger, 39, is a bit of a question mark as a first-time head coach, but by all accounts he looks like the perfect candidate to serve as both a logical extension of Hollins — under whom Joerger served as an assistant for four seasons — and a more open-minded thinker than his predecessor. Joerger’s impact on Memphis’ execution remains to be seen, but the idea of promoting a long-tenured defensive architect would seem to be a sound choice for the grit-and-grind Grizz.
What Went Wrong: Not much, all told. The Grizz paid a fair price for Allen (four years, $20 million) and a great price on Leuer (three years, $2.9 million); benefited from guard Jerryd Bayless’ decision to pick up his $3.1 million player option for this season; and agreed to terms with a solid coaching prospect for a fraction of the price — and trouble — that would have come with Hollins’ re-signing.
The Grizzlies didn’t do much to improve their roster significantly, but they were a contending-caliber team as it was and made some smart (if minor) moves to shore things up on the rotation’s fringes. Some may criticize the lack of a high-impact move, but Memphis wasn’t in a position to do much more than it did. It’s been a nice offseason run that is set to make the Grizzlies a better team than they were a season ago.
Grade: B. The Grizzlies kept an effective team in place and made additions to upgrade weaknesses. They should be in the mix again in a conference that could have as many as six legitimate championship contenders.