This piece started out as a news/scoops piece on how the locker room altercation between Garrett Temple and Omri Casspi fight is starting to show the cracks in the Grizzly facade. Then, news broke on how Chandler Parsons has apparently been healthy “for well over a week, and is ready to play.” So then this evolved into an ‘Issues on the Bench’ piece. Now, the debacle of the trade of Wayne Seldon, a scrub (sorry Marshon Brooks), and two unprotected 2nd round draft picks for Justin Holiday. While I personally love Justin Holiday and his hyper-athletic gene pool of a family, the issue I found with this was the picks. Those are pretty valuable to a team that is certainly doing a little more than just struggling this year. However, with all three of these news-worthy pieces occurring within a short 4 day window (and this is not including the debacle of the proposed Wiz-Suns-Griz trade that no one knows who is at fault for), it is making me start to ask a couple troubling questions that I never have had to ask about this team before. Chief among them: the hell is going on? To answer my own question so early would be amateur (which yes, I am), but I feel like I must: I have no idea.
Generally speaking, I can get inside the heads of most GMs and coaches, and can lay out a couple pathways that they can follow. Sure, I will of course be leaning into which one I believe is the most correct given the circumstances the organization has put itself in (remember, bad teams are bad because they are inept, not because of bad luck). This whole organization, however, has always been a middle of the road one. They generally don’t screw over players. They are fairly loyal to their fan base (ownership bought out the other parties too make the team more fan-orientated). They also were in the best spot roster wise of all teams in the top 10 of the draft last year, possessing two legit All-Stars.
And yet they NEED to rebuild, and badly. The only bright sports for their future are possessing 3J (Jaren Jackson, Jr.) and Slo-Mo (Kyle Anderson), and both of the players are playing at the wrong positions currently. They do not have a single first round pick (currently) in this draft. Their two All-Stars (Mike Conley and Marc Gasol) are both over the age of 30 and still account for nearly $55 mil of the team’s cap this year, and will count (if Marc Gasol opts into his contract for next year) for $58 mil. THIS IS ALSO NOT ACCOUNTING FOR THE NEARLY $50 MIL CHANDLER PARSONS IS OWED BETWEEN THIS YEAR AND NEXT YEAR, AND HE ISN’T EVEN PLAYING.
As the saying goes, “Yikes.”
It is really tough to picture a way where the Grizzlies can come out on top. If they wished to get the rebuild started now, then they should trade off Conley, Gasol, Parsons, and anyone over the age of 26-28 (looking at you Garrett Temple, Omri Casspi, Joakim Noah, Justin Holiday, and JaMychal Green). They should trade experience for youth, bad money, and draft picks. Hell, they should look to get in on the Anthony Davis sweepstakes (or any other trade that may/could require a third party) to get draft picks and young players. I do not know a single Grizzly fan that, looking ahead, would turn this trade down, or any other variety of trades that could occur. Looking at you Orlando, heard you need a point guard. Or maybe the Suns, since they need a center that can play competent/passable defense. Hell, I’m sure the 76ers wouldn’t mind taking on Parsons since it means they upgrade their poor bench rotation.
As I said in the beginning, bad teams are bad because they let themselves be bad. While I do not think that the Grizzlies are a bad team now with the changes in ownership, I do believe that their future is looking bleaker as the days go on. They have a mountain ahead of them, and it is looking more and more like Everest than…I don’t know, Appalachia? Point is, the Grizzlies have some hard questions they have to ask themselves in the coming months about the direction they need to take their organization. Teams like the Nuggets should show and prove that tanking for a few years to acquire assets is not a bad alternative. Hell, the Nuggets will be better next year since they got Michael Porter, Jr. WITH THE 14th PICK IN THE DRAFT (but more on that later). The Grizzlies are an intriguing team, and can become a good team if they play their cards right. The biggest issue is that they need to decide a course of action and stick to it because the trade deadline is fast approaching, and their fan base’s anxiety is only mounting.