Gilbert Arenas is about to return to the court, as the Commercial Appeal reports that the Memphis Grizzlies will sign Arenas for the rest of the season, pending a physical. Arenas would add a new dynamic to the Grizzlies offense as well as the defense.
Arenas would give the Grizzlies another inside-outside scoring threat. He can drive to the hole and score, and hit shots from three-point range. Arenas, who is a career 35.1 percent three-point shooter, has placed in the top five in three-point field goals made three times. Arenas takes about a third of his shots from three-point range.
Arenas enhances the three-point potential for a Grizzlies team that ranks 27th in the NBA in three-point percentage (32.1 percent). Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo have been the only three-point threats for the Grizzlies.
Further, Arenas is a hot scoring threat. He's averaged 20 points per game four times, including three seasons averaging 25 or more per game.
Where Would Arenas Play in the Grizzlies' Rotation?
Arenas certainly wouldn't start. The Grizzlies, a team that hinges in part on its chemistry, wouldn't change the starting lineup for Arenas. It'd be nonsensical to put him at point guard in the stretch run in place of Mike Conley. Tony Allen's defensive leadership is too valuable to place on the bench.
Arenas would likely share minutes with O.J. Mayo off the bench. Arenas and Mayo would play a similar role with both coming in to add a scoring boost and relieve Conley, who averages 36.5 minutes per game.
Both Arenas and Mayo could play at least 23 minutes per game to give the grinding backcourt a break. Rudy Gay, like Conley, has a high minute load, playing 37.2 minutes per game. One would expect to see Arenas and Mayo on the court at the same time, giving a solid bench look.
Now, Mayo will still get more clutch minutes than Arenas since Lionel Hollins would trust Mayo more to come through late in the game. Besides, Mayo has been part of this tight-knit group for a few years.
The addition of Arenas means fewer minutes for Quincy Pondexter and Jeremy Pargo. Pondexter, who averages 4.7 points per game, isn't nearly the scorer Arenas is. Pargo, a rookie who had played internationally before this season, isn't as advanced in his game as Arenas is in his.
Conclusion: Arenas Is a Savvy Deal By Chris Wallace
Arenas is being signed for a prorated veteran's minimum of $300,000 for the rest of the season. This keeps the Grizzlies just under the luxury tax threshold.
Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace made a solid maneuver to bring the Grizzlies below the threshold and deepen their bench. Before the trade deadline on Thursday, Wallace shipped Sam Young to the Philadelphia 76ers to clear salary, which made room for Arenas' signing.
The Arenas signing is a characteristic move by Wallace. He's making a calculated risk on a player who hasn't played NBA ball in a while in order to enhance the Grizzlies offense.