NBA Free Agency 2012: Keeping Darrell Arthur Hurts Grizzlies' Shot at Shooter

Tom Firme@TFirmeAnalyst IIJuly 11, 2012

MEMPHIS, TN - NOVEMBER 20:  Coach Lionel Hollins of the Memphis Grizzlies talks with Darrell Arthur #00 during a game against the Miami Heat at FedExForum on November 20, 2010 in Memphis, Tennessee. The Grizzlies won 97-95.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2010 NBAE  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies made a strange move by re-signing Darrell Arthur. Arthur had missed the entire 2011-12 season with a torn Achilles tendon. Even with significant progress in his condition, the Grizzlies could have held off on the signing in order to improve other parts of the roster.

Arthur had done well in the season before becoming injured. He averaged 9.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in just 20.1 minutes while shooting 49.7 percent from the field and 81.3 percent from the line. The then-22-year-old's 16.3 points per 36 minutes and 106 points per 100 possessions were impressive.

Some might wonder if Arthur could come back and be an effective reserve after suffering such a rough injury.

Grizzlies fans can find some assurance in Arthur's progress in recovery. According to The Commercial Appeal, he's doing light jogging, inclined treadmill walks, standstill shooting and yoga. Arthur said that he's ahead of schedule.

Still, the Grizzlies could have held off on Arthur's signing since the Kansas product didn't receive much attention in free agency. Signing him for $3 million per year was reasonable, but they could have signed a shooter before retaining him.

Picking up a shooter should have been a higher priority than retaining the man who looks to be the No. 3 or 4 power forward on the depth chart.

The Grizzlies will lose O.J. Mayo in free agency because Mayo will demand more than they can pay him. Mayo was the only real backcourt scorer off the bench last season, averaging 12.6 points per game.

Replacing that scoring on a team that's 20th in scoring average and 19th in points per 100 possessions is essential.

They can't expect Quincy Pondexter to take on that role after he averaged just 4.2 points per game and scored in double figures only seven times in 2011-12.

Despite his scoring potential, Josh Selby can't shoulder that burden yet since he played a limited role while playing just 28 games in his rookie season.

Since the Grizzlies signed Arthur already, they lost some of their mid-level exception. Since the signing put them over the luxury tax threshold, they can only offer a $3 million mini-mid-level exception. That would likely put them out of the running for Randy Foye, who earned $4.25 million the last two years.

Fortunately, they can still afford Jodie Meeks and Courtney Lee, who both earned less than $3 million in the past season. Lee averaged 11.4 points per game and shot 40.1 percent from three-point range. Meeks averaged 8.4 points in just 24.9 minutes per game while shooting 36.5 percent from three-point range and 90.6 percent from the line.

The Grizzlies have options, but the options are a bit slimmer since they have less money to offer. They could have offered more if they'd have held off on re-upping Arthur. Alas, the small-market franchise must live with its financial reality and do the best it can with what tools it has.