Memphis Grizzlies 2014 Free-Agency Big Board: Ranking Top Targets Post-Draft
The Memphis Grizzlies checked off the top objective on their offseason list by extending Zach Randolph. Thursday's draft gave a bit of clarity to the Grizzlies' free-agency road map but hardly diminished the need for more scoring.
Jordan Adams can create space and make plays, but his lackluster speed and ball-handling may hurt him.
Ultimately, the Grizzlies will be looking for rotation players who may not fit starting roles to boost scoring. Unless they trade Courtney Lee, the 2-spot appears shut. If Tayshaun Prince remains, they'll be in the position to keep him in the lineup, since it's difficult to bury someone earning $7.7 million on the bench.
Further, GM Chris Wallace should have his eye on players who can hit threes. While the men on Beale Street climbed to 19th in three-point field-goal percentage, they were last in threes attempted.
This list doesn't include Nick Calathes and Kosta Koufos, on whose non-guaranteed contracts the Grizzlies must decide. Koufos, who would earn $3 million next season, seems to be a lock to return. He was effective on the boards and on defense, pulling down 11.2 rebounds per 36 minutes and allowing 101 points per 100 possessions.
Calathes is less certain. He received a 20-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. As SB Nation's Tom Ziller tweeted, Calathes would miss the first 13 games of the season.
Calathes has received an offer from Panathinaikos and plans to accept if Memphis doesn't move on his contract, per Sportando.
If they guarantee both, the small-market franchise would have close to $71 million on the books, which would be $6 million away from the projected $77 million luxury-tax threshold. That wouldn't be bad, since they'd have 13 players on the roster.
Noticeably absent from this list are Ed Davis, Beno Udrih and James Johnson.
Davis, whose chances as a man in the wings behind Randolph I previously discussed, may not be a consideration. He averaged 13.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per 36 minutes while playing 15.2 minutes per game last season, failing to raise his game and sometimes falling out of the rotation. The fourth-year power forward logged 25 minutes in the playoffs.
Questions remain about whether the Grizzlies will extend the $4.3 million qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent.
According to The Commercial Appeal (subscription required), the Grizzlies are unlikely to re-sign Johnson or Udrih. Johnson was arrested on domestic assault charges in early June. He averaged 7.4 points per game on 46.4 percent shooting from the field, but his offense is one-dimensional, revolving around his action at the rim.
Udrih played 10 regular-season games for the Grizzlies before playing a key role in sustaining their fight against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He averaged 7.9 points per game and made four of 12 three-point attempts.
Unfortunately for the soon-to-be 32-year-old, Memphis has five guards on the roster. If Calathes' contract isn't guaranteed, Udrih might become a nice possibility as a backup point man.
Here are a few players the Grizzlies should pursue this offseason.
Unless otherwise noted, advanced metrics are from Basketball-Reference.com.
1. Mike Miller
The Grizzlies desperately need to retain their primary marksman from the past season.
Not only was Mike Miller their best three-point shooter but he took a large portion of the team's threes during the regular season. Miller was second in the NBA at 45.9 percent from downtown. Also, he had 26.4 percent of the Grizzlies' made three-point field goals. He and Mike Conley combined to hit more than half the long-distance shots for the last-place team in the category.
Miller held a significant scoring role, averaging 7.1 points in 20.5 minutes per game and producing 115 points per 100 possessions.
The aforementioned piece from The Commercial Appeal (subscription required) mentioned Miller as a "priority" free agent due to his production, durability and relationship with head coach Dave Joerger.
Miller played every game after missing more than 20 in each of the previous four seasons.
2. Mo Williams
Mo Williams would bring the hot backcourt scoring the Grizzlies need.
Williams averaged 9.7 points per game last season for the Portland Trail Blazers. He shot 36.9 percent from three-point range in 2013-14 and is 38.5 percent from downtown for his career, taking about 30 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
That long-range figure would help the Grizzlies' meager three-point outlook.
However, the 11-year pro never defended well. He allows 110 points per 100 possessions for his career and never allowed less than 106 in a season. Also, he has a penchant for committing fouls, allowing 3.9 per 36 minutes last year and three per 36 minutes in his career.
Injuries are an issue for the 31-year-old. He missed most of the second-round series against the San Antonio Spurs with a groin injury. Before 2013-14, he missed 24 or more games in three straight seasons.
The Commercial Appeal mentioned (subscription required) Memphis' interest in him, although a guard who's more defensively reliable would be better.
3. Matt Bonner
The Grizzlies have enough of an inside presence with Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Kosta Koufos. Koufos, who had a 14 percent offensive rebounding rate and 22.7 percent defensive rebounding rate, can patrol the boards enough to allow for another stretch 4 besides Jon Leuer.
Matt Bonner would be that type of luxury for the Grizzlies' bench. Bonner has been a great spot-up three-point shooter for the San Antonio Spurs. He shot 42.9 percent from downtown last season. At 41.7 percent, he's the seventh-best three-point shooter among active players.
He also defends well. The 33-year-old allowed 103 points per 100 possessions in 2013-14. Bonner has allowed 104 per 100 possessions in eight years with the Spurs.
With a 7.2 percent career turnover rate, Bonner is one of the most sure-handed players around.
Adding the 10-year veteran would bolster Memphis' bench defense while creating spacing and mismatches offensively.
4. Caron Butler
Caron Butler made little noise for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoffs, averaging 6.3 points per game on 32.4 percent shooting from the field. Now, he may be a delightful catch on the market.
In an offseason round-table discussion, Berry Tramel, Anthony Slater and Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman doubted that the Thunder would re-up Butler. Tramel said:
I don't think it's impossible, but it will have to be for the minimum salary. And the Thunder are ready to move on down the road with [Jeremy] Lamb and Perry Jones and probably Reggie Jackson as the primary perimeter players off the bench.
The 12-year pro hasn't retained the same shooting touch inside the arc but is still a potent three-point threat. While Butler has shot below 43 percent in four of the past five seasons, he has shot at least 35.8 percent or better the past four years.
Butler is a terrific ball-handler, averaging two turnovers per game for his career. He had a 9.5 percent turnover rate last season despite holding a 20.1 percent usage rate.
His rebounding isn't as much of a factor as it was earlier in his career. He's averaged 4.8 rebounds per 36 minutes in the past four seasons, compared with 5.9 before then.
At age 34, he will demand less than the $8 million he earned the previous three years. If the Grizzlies must spend the full mid-level exception to sign him, he'd be worth it. However, that shouldn't be necessary due to his decline.
5. Kirk Hinrich
If the Grizzlies don't guarantee Nick Calathes' contract, they'll be in need of a steady backup for Mike Conley. Kirk Hinrich would be an ideal veteran to take the spot.
Hinrich evolved into a traditional point guard who makes terrific passes. He averaged 3.9 assists per game last season and 5.2 per game the year before.
Hinrich is an afterthought as a scoring option but shoots 37.7 percent from downtown for his career and hit 35.1 percent last season.
His scrappy defense for the Chicago Bulls would fit well on the grinding team to the southeast. The 33-year-old allowed 102 points per 100 possessions in 2013-14.
He managed to play 73 games after missing more than 15 the previous two years.
Per Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago, Hinrich hopes to re-sign with the Bulls, with whom he's played nine of his 12 seasons.
If the Grizzlies can grab him they will tighten both their floor leadership and bench defense.
6. Thabo Sefolosha
Thabo Sefolosha, who is the prototypical three-and-D player, could be a nice addition to the Grizzlies' backcourt.
Sefolosha is a career 34.8 percent three-point shooter. His aim faltered last season, as he shot 31.6 percent after draining better than 41 percent the previous two seasons.
Since he takes 49 percent of his threes from the corner, the eight-year pro would help the Grizzlies' floor spacing.
Sefolosha locks down on the perimeter. He has allowed 104 points per 100 possessions in his career and averaged 1.3 steals per game the past two seasons.
According to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman, the Oklahoma City Thunder are unlikely to re-sign the 30-year-old 2-guard.
Considering that Sefolosha is a low-usage player who averages five shots per game for his career, he would essentially be a spot-up shooter and cheap defensive alternative to Tony Allen off the bench.
Sefolosha, who was a full-time starter in Oklahoma City, wouldn't be able to score enough to play the same role in Memphis. If the Grizzlies pick him up, he'd be one of two players to take split portions of a mid-level exception.
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