Jerryd Bayless Finds a Home, a Role and a Fail-Safe
One of the last NBA players to hit the free-agent market was also one of the first to fly off the shelves once the signing period officially began. As first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.com, former Toronto Raptor Jerryd Bayless has agreed to terms with the Memphis Grizzlies, making for an immediate, cost-effective replacement for the outgoing O.J. Mayo.
The Grizz have done a fantastic job of complementing their core with affordable, productive role players over the last few seasons, and Bayless fits that mold perfectly. Last season's numbers may not have been a completely fair representation of Bayless' value, but he was noticeably more in control relative to seasons past, and that newfound discretion and balance rounded out his overall game nicely.
That apparently wasn't enough to sell a free-agent suitor on a more sizeable deal, but Bayless' arrangement with the Grizzlies is pretty terrific for all parties involved. Memphis gets its reserve scorer and ball-handler at a perfectly reasonable cost, and per Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, his deal will be for $3 million this season with a player option for the 2013-2014 season.
That may not be the long-term, guaranteed payday that any free agent would hope for, but it gets Bayless a decent salary in a prime role for a good team and the freedom to either hit the market again or regroup next time around. That's a nice arrangement for a player like Bayless, who could very well be due for a climb or a trip back down to earth; if nothing else, he's able to pull in two years of solid salary off the deal in place, yet he still has the free-agent mobility to grab a better deal next summer.
Bayless could actually pan out to be a more palatable contributor than Mayo in many ways, though Memphis undoubtedly suffers a bit of a defensive drop-off. Bayless works hard and tries to stay in front of his man, but his burst speed doesn't perfectly translate to lateral movement, and his instincts aren't totally in line with team-serving defensive strategy.
Mayo is a flawed player, but he was one of the Grizzlies' better perimeter defenders and proved capable of spelling Tony Allen and Mike Conley of their difficult assignments for stretches. Expecting Bayless to take up that role would be expecting a fair bit too much, but he should be more than comfortable in his own as Memphis' newly acquired source of instant offense.
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