It is apparent that the Memphis Grizzlies have come to a pivotal point in their franchise. The Grit n Grind era seems to be past us and the team is currently on a 10 game losing skid that has them sitting at in the basement of the Western Conference. Of course they have been without their All Star caliber point guard in Mike Conley for most of that losing streak, but that is not the only issue within the organization. There are more long-term results at stake. After the recent firing of coach David Fizdale, seemingly out of the blue, the Grizzlies’ management has been under much scrutiny and the direction of the franchise is in question. It is well known that star Center Marc Gasol did not get along with the coach and this likely played a role in his firing. The Grizzlies have lost another three games since the firing so clearly that wasn’t the only issue at hand.
Since this year is quickly looking like the playoffs might be out of reach barring a drastic turnaround, the Grizz are faced with several distinct options. They could try and claw their way back in to the playoffs once Mike gets healthy, they could trade away some of their assets for future draft picks, or they could actively tank. To set the tone for this article, I want to be clear that I am not trying to solve the issues that the Grizzlies are currently facing or take sides on the future of the team. What I do want to do is present some facts. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle that is the Grizzlies’ future. Maybe with this information laid out, you will be able to play armchair GM, like most of us have been doing for years.
For perspective, since 2010, the last place team in the league has finished with a record between 7 wins (2011-2012 Bobcats) and 20 (2016-2017 Nets), with the average being 15 wins. Of course with the lottery system, the worst record does not guarantee the best draft pick but this should give a good target to aim for if you are trying to tank “the right way” Right now the Grizz are on pace to finish with 26 wins.
Breakdown of draft picks and contract expirations by year
Since the majority of NBA impactful draft picks come in the first round, I decided to stick to outlining the details of the Grizz potential picks in that portion of the draft. Another important factor that I will point out is contracts and their expiration.
Draft Picks – If you are looking in the nearest of terms, you fill find that the Grizz actually own their own first round pick in the upcoming draft of 2018. According to those folks much more in tune with college and overseas talent like @GaryParrishCBS, this draft class is supposed to be loaded with talent. If the Grizz are able to finish with a lottery pick, there is a possibility that they could land a really solid player who could be a jumpstart to a rebuild and potentially compliment a healthy Memphis core…if such a world is possible. Technically all this could be done without trading Marc, but it is not likely that Memphis would be able to finish low enough to grab an immediate contributor if they finish out the season with Marc and Mike playing at full speed. This would probably mean a decision must be made to trade either Mike and/or Marc.
Expiring Contracts at end of season – Brandan Wright, Tyreke Evans, Janes Ennis, Mario Chalmers
Draft Picks – Grizz own their first round pick if it falls between 1-8, but outside of that it belongs to the Celtics because of a past unfortunate trade. Speaking of the Celtics, it must be really fun to be a Boston sports fan. Large market with a ton of teams. It’s like the odds are in your favor to win a championship every once in a while in something. Anyway, for 2017-2018 season, to keep the first round draft pick, tanking would have to be a focus.
Expiring Contracts at end of season – Marc Gasol(could pick up player option for another year) JaMychal Green, Ben McLemore, Jarell Martin, Wayne Seldon, Deyonta Davis, Andrew Harrison, Ivan Rabb (Team option for another year)
Draft Picks – The Grizz still own their first round pick if it falls within 1-6. Otherwise the Celtics take ownership if they don’t in 2019. If Celtics get the first round pick in 2019, Grizz keep this pick.
Expiring Contracts at end of season – Marc Gasol (if takes player option in previous year), Chandler Parsons, Dillon Brooks, Ivan Rabb (If team doesn’t take option in previous year)
Draft Picks – Own if Boston claims pick previously, or it goes to Boston if not previously claimed in 2019 or 2020.
Expiring Contracts at end of season – Mike Conley
Did you decide the future path of the franchise? If you did, please be sure to pass this information along to the Grizz front office, as I am sure that they could use all the help they can get at this point.
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Draft pick information courtesy of https://basketball.realgm.com/nba/draft/future_drafts/yearly
Contract information courtesy of https://www.basketball-reference.com
Image courtesy of Bleacher Report