NBA Free Agent 2011 Predictions: 5 Memphis Grizzlies Signings

Tom Firme@TFirmeAnalyst IINovember 28, 2011

NBA Free Agent 2011 Predictions: 5 Memphis Grizzlies Signings

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    Memphis Grizzlies fans could rejoice at the announcement early Saturday morning that the NBA lockout had ended. Grizzlies fans have the opportunity to see their team build off of its 2011 playoff run.

    Before the 2011-12 season begins, the Grizzlies could give their fans a bit of excitement. While the collective bargaining agreement has yet to be ratified, the free agent period is expected to start on December 9. The Grizzlies could please fans by retaining some of their free agents and reaching out to a few more.

    The Grizzlies have four free agents. Marc Gasol and Hamed Haddadi are restricted free agents. Shane Battier and Leon Powe are unrestricted free agents.

    Which of these four will the Grizzlies keep and which free agents from around the league will the Grizzlies acquire?

    Read along for a few predictions.

Marc Gasol

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    Gasol is already the best center in Grizzlies history after three seasons, not that Bryant Reeves puts up much of a fight for that title. In 2009-10, Gasol shot a franchise-record 58.1 percent from the field and had a franchise-record 121.3 offensive rating. Gasol has the highest field-goal percentage (.545) in team history.

    The Grizzlies recognize his value. Before the lockout, the Grizzlies put forth a $4.5 million qualifying offer.

    Just as great as the Grizzlies' desire to keep Gasol is Gasol's desire to stay in Memphis. "I grew up in Memphis," Gasol told the Commercial Appeal. "I feel like it's my home."

    The big man can't leave home. As soon as the free agent window opens, expect him to accept the offer.

Hamed Haddadi

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    Not everyone gets excited at the mention of Haddadi's name. Nevertheless, Haddadi deserves mention because the Grizzlies will re-sign him. While Haddadi is one of the last players off the bench for the Grizzlies (only Rodney Carney averaged fewer minutes per game than him last season), he has some value. Haddadi averaged 2.2 rebounds per game and had a 31.6 defensive rebounding percentage.

    The Grizzlies see value in Haddadi. Ergo, they sent a $2 million qualifying offer in his direction.

    Haddadi may have his options. Haddadi could go overseas to a team that would give him more playing time. His agent, Marc Cornstein, mentioned that he and Haddadi had discussed the possibility of Haddadi playing in China.

    "There are some good opportunities there and the more he plays, the more he will develop," Cornstein said.

    In October, Haddadi signed a short-term contract with Melli Haffari in his hometown of Ahraz, Iran, with the intention of returning to Memphis in December for workouts.

    With those intentions, Haddadi seems very realistic. Haddadi probably recognizes that there is more money in the NBA. Also, staying in the NBA keeps Haddadi, the first Iranian to play in the NBA, relevant. No NBA team will wrest him from Memphis since no one else would be willing to pay more than $2 million for him.

Jamal Crawford

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    In October, I wrote about the idea of bringing Jamal Crawford to the Grizzlies. This is still an intriguing possibility.  Crawford, 31, is a great scorer off the bench. On his career, Crawford averages 15.4 points per game and 17.2 points per 36 minutes.

    Even though his scoring average dropped from 18.0 points per game in 2009-10 to 14.2 points per game in 2010-11, Crawford is still an alluring free agent.

    The Grizzlies could use a scorer off the bench like Crawford. The Grizzlies, who were 12th in scoring last season and 27th in three-point shooting, would be helped by his scoring. Memphis wouldn't be threatened by controversy at shooting guard since their shooting guard position starts defensive-minded players like Tony Allen.

    Crawford may require a bit of bidding. He commanded $10.8 million last season and $9.36 million the year before. However, Chris Wallace should be able to chase Crawford since he'll ink Gasol for a reasonable price.

Jeff Foster

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    Jeff Foster fits the Grizzlies ethos perfectly.  Foster is a hard-working low post player. Foster pulls down rebounds at a fantastic rate.  Last season, he averaged 6.3 rebounds per game while playing only 16.8 minutes per game. For his career, Foster averages 6.9 rebounds per game.

    Lionel Hollins likely wouldn't mind directing a hustle player like Foster.  Foster would fit in as the high-energy defensive player off the bench who doesn't need to touch the ball on offense. Besides, he only averages 3.9 field-goal attempts per game on his career.

    Foster, 34, might receiver offers from the Indiana Pacers, for whom he played 12 seasons, and a couple of other teams.  Still, Wallace could pull Foster to Memphis for a plain $3 million.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

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    Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is a prince in his hometown of Bia Messe, Cameroon, and a prince of a defensive player on the court. Mbah a Moute, 25, averaged 5.3 rebounds per game last season and had 3.3 defensive win shares. He earned praise for his defense from Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles, a tough man to please.

    "He's very good laterally," Skiles told Sports Illustrated. "He's got good length. He uses his hands well on defense. He's not afraid to use the core of his body to body people up."

    Like Foster, Mbah a Moute would build on Hollins' defensive scheme.  He would come off the bench and give good energy and intensity on defense.

    Mbah a Moute would be a cost-effective signing at small forward compared to Battier.  Battier would likely demand a big deal to be kept away from a sure contender. Meanwhile, Mbah a Moute could be had for only a couple million dollars.