On Thursday, it became public knowledge that Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas decided to not take his player option for the upcoming season in Memphis. According to Woj, the reason behind the decision is that he is seeking to hammer down a longer term contract – in Memphis.
However, many people are speculating that the second part of Woj’s tweet is not actually accurate and that this is JV’s move to get out of town. Why wouldn’t Valanciunas just opt in to his contract this year and then negotiate more years after the fact?
Thoughts from The Barn
Valanciunas made a distinct impact on the Grizzlies roster in just a short amount of time this past season. Memphis fans were drawn to him and appreciated his ability to set screens, score efficiently, and haul in rebounds — a glaring weakness of the current team.
If Woj’s speculation is actually true, this could be a good omen for Grizzlies fans and the newly minted front office. They were able to grab the coach that they wanted and must have a solid relationship with JV and his agent if he is willing to opt out of a contract and renegotiate.
When discussing with the fellow members of the Backdoor Cut crew, we were speculating on what a new contract would look like for Valanciunas if he were to stay in Memphis. We have to guess that he is looking for at least three total years and possibly even four.
What is the most that you would give him? We decided that over a three year period we would want to offer him somewhere between 40 and 45 million. Anything over 3 years cuts into the time where the Grizzlies should be looking to retool and make a run for (gasp) the NBA playoffs with Jaren Jackson Jr. entering his prime.
Misc League Notes
Pelicans big man Julius Randle just entered unrestricted free agency after declining a $9mm player option after his best season to date in New Orleans. Unlike Jonas, Randle is worth much more than that option on the open market. Randle is also 4 years younger and could serve as a more coveted free agent option for teams in need of post presence.
The strategy behind Al Horford not exercising his option could be similar to Jonas, but on a larger scale. If he does stay with Boston, it will likely be for a multi-year deal that reduces his annual salary. The Celtic’s veteran center is frequently touted as the glue that holds the Boston roster together. The 12 year veteran is now 33 years old.
Updated reports show that Horford and the Celtics are likely splitting ways and Horford is seeking a 3-4 year deal. With a frontcourt player the caliber of Horford on the open market, that should help drive down the financial value of Valanciunas – ultimately benefiting the Grizzlies.
Conley Trade Rumors Heating Up
It is no secret that the Grizzlies are shopping point guard Mike Conley — they have been since before this past season’s trade deadline.
On Monday, Shams Charania of The Athletic mentioned in his Inside Pass article that the Grizzlies and Jazz are back at the negotiation table with eachother. The main topic of conversation is one Mike Conley.
The Jazz are looking for a point guard who can help take them to the next level in the Western Conference. A point guard who can play with Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and help bring out the best in them.
Omari Sankofa and Tony Jones of The Athletic wrote a back and forth column on Monday that broke down what each team would want out of a potential trade, with the highlight being multiple first round picks for Conley. This year, Utah has pick #23 in the first round.
As I mentioned on the most recent episode of the Backdoor Cut Show, I personally would like for Memphis to be able to bring back future first round picks for Conley. With the looming 1st round pick going to Boston either next year or the year after, acquiring a future pick would help lessen the blow when Memphis does finally convey the pick to the Celtics.
Accidental News Leak
Monday afternoon, in the fray of Conley rumors, Yahoo! Sports accidentally published the below post and subsequently deleted it.
It appears that Memphis is also negotiating with the Suns concerning Conley. Though the Suns are likely desperate to make it to the playoffs with young guns Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton, giving up any assets for Conley would hurt Phoenix in the long term. They have the number 7 pick in this week’s draft and they likely will have their pick of highly ranked guards Darius Garland and Coby White.
Zak (@BarnBurnerBro) is a native Memphian who covers the Memphis Grizzlies, Tigers, and St. Louis Cardinals for The Barn. He spends his free time exploring breweries, restaurants, and leading the Ivan Rabbstan club.
Header image courtesy of Ja Morant’s Twitter page