As the 2009-2010 season comes to an end, the Memphis Grizzlies will enter the off-season with very important choices to make.
They have four of their five starters under contract for next year. They also have three first-round picks and two restricted free agents to consider whether to resign, or not.
The team probably will not take my advice. But if they want to contend for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoffs in 2011, they have to make some hard choices.
Those choices can put them in the playoff hunt, near the luxury tax, or they can cut payroll and give fans an additional reason to flee.
Here are five choices they must make before the 2010-2011 NBA Season:
Having three seven-foot athletes on the roster does not help your team if only one of them has any game.
Marc Gasol had a great year, but Grizzlies fans know what happened after he was injured.
Hamed Haddadi and 2009 second overall pick Hasheem Thabeet are far from NBA ready. Are they going to cut ties with one (likely Haddadi) to give the other playing time as the backup center?
If Gasol is healthy, one of them will get zero playing time. That's a roster spot that can be taken by someone who can help the bench.
The Rudy Gay "sweepstakes" will begin soon.
As teams miss out of the bigger free agents (LeBron, Wade, Chris Bosh), they will overpay for second and third-tier players. That means a big payday for Rudy.
He is on record; saying that it does not matter where he plays. Translation: Highest offer will win.
Will Memphis be willing to pay? They could. But do they want to? He will average almost 20 points a game and he is a cornerstone of the franchise.
He is also clearly the team's second option. Is the second option worth $14 million a year?
I am starting to believe that there are no point guards on the roster that are good enough to start.
Mike Conley, Marcus Williams, Jaamal Tinsley all underperformed at times this year. Conley is (once again) ending the season well. But there are stretches where he is taken to school by other NBA point guards.
Let's be honest. Can you see the Grizzlies winning a playoff series with Conley running the point?
Point guard is a place I would look to draft someone and cut ties with Williams and Tinsley, who are free agents.
Lionel Hollins is coming to the end of his contract.
The two sides have been talking for three months with no resolution in sight.
I hope Memphis is not going be Memphis of the past, and lowball him. Maybe they believe that they can get rid of the coach with no buyout and decide to make a change.
But, who is better? Jeff Van Gundy? Avery Johnson?
If I were Hollins, I would apply for the Nets job. Think about it. It is an Eastern Conference team with low expectations. You could have John Wall as your point guard.
If you can make it to a .500 winning percentage in Memphis, you can coach.
Ronnie Brewer got hurt in his first game with Memphis. So no one has any idea what he can do.
Oh, and he is also a restricted free agent.
But unlike Gay, he will not get a big offer. So Memphis could sign him cheap (that's a specialty of Memphis).
He will either become the sixth man if Rudy stays, or more likely, replace Rudy at small forward.
The team has already spent a first-round pick on him in the trade with Utah. So they will resign or match any reasonable offer.