MEMPHIS – What’s next for the Memphis Grizzlies?
Who stays? Who goes?
How will the Grit’N’Grind era continue to evolve?
Those questions and more face the Grizzlies as they embark on an offseason destined for change after their seventh consecutive playoff trip ended in a six-game series loss to the Spurs in the opening round. There’s plenty of optimism moving forward. There’s also clearly something most fans, players, coaches and executives agree on: 43 wins, a No. 7 seed in the playoffs and a first-round exit aren’t good enough.
Over a stretch of 17 weekdays, we’ll dive into our ‘Offseason Outlook’ series that breaks down my personal analysis as to where each player on the Grizzlies’ roster stands, in addition to coach David Fizdale and general manager Chris Wallace, entering a potentially pivotal offseason.
Player: JaMychal Green, 26
Measurables: 6-9, 227 – 3rd NBA Season
2016-17 Stats: 8.9ppg (career high), 7.1rpg (career high), 27.3 mpg (career high), 50.0 FG% (career high)
Status: Restricted Free Agent – $980,431 salary in 2016-17
Green joined only Mike Conley and Marc Gasol among players to tie or lead the team on at least four occasions this season in single-game points, rebounds, steals, blocks and minutes. Green also set career highs across the board in his first season as a full-time starter and led the team with 49 dunks.
At his best this past season, Green outplayed Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns in his head-to-head matchups with the former No. 1 overall picks. Not bad for an undrafted prospect out of Alabama who spent his first season in the Spurs’ D-League system before latching on with the Grizzlies two years ago. Green has reshaped his body and game with the Grizzlies to become the consummate NBA hybrid forward who can stretch the floor with three-point range offensively, and is capable of switching off defensively for possessions on elite level wing talent. The combination of coach David Fizdale’s offensive changes and Green’s emergence resulted in the perfect storm entering free agency.
Frequent bouts with foul trouble and a quick temper prevented Green from ever completely running away with the starting power forward job. Because of his speed, athleticism and drastically improved shooting, Green does a little of everything well but doesn’t dominate in any particular area. He has the potential to be a fantastic role player or first big off the bench, but the timing of his free agency when salaries are exploding is almost certain to guarantee him a frontline starter’s share of some team’s salary cap. While it would be tough to see the Grizzlies lose a player they developed into a starter, Green plays the one position where there appears an adequate surplus of roster alternatives.
The Grizzlies can match any outside offer Green signs as a restricted free agent. The risk there is by allowing the market to set Green’s value, cash flush teams such as Brooklyn, Orlando and Philadelphia could sign him to an offer too steep for Memphis’ tastes. For example, the Nets dropped a so-called poison pill into a back-loaded, $50 million offer to Tyler Johnson last summer Miami forced itself to match. Green is rated the No. 9 available power forward by one national website that covers the league. Zach Randolph, replaced by Green as the starter, is No. 7 on that same list. The Grizzlies, Green and Randolph admirably dealt with a delicate role swap this past season. As both players enter free agency, there appears no way to tip-toe around what inevitably may be an either-or choice for the franchise.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Michael Wallace are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.