NBA AM: What Is Next For The Memphis Grizzlies?
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Whats Next For The Grizzlies: The Memphis Grizzlies were unceremoniously swept out of the postseason last night by the San Antonio Spurs, opening the door for a tumultuous summer that’s likely going to include major change.
The smart money says when a team gets to the Conference Finals you keep it together, but the problem is a lot of Memphis’ core pieces have free agent options and it appears some of them may choose to be elsewhere, prompting the need for other changes.
Let’s take a look at the issues:
Lionel Hollins: You don’t have to be an insider to see that Hollins and new ownership see the world differently. Ownership has said all the right things about wanting Hollins back and he has publicly said that he wants to be back; but, there is a growing sense in NBA circles that Hollins is going to ride his success into a major payday that he is unlikely to get in Memphis. Hollins is considered the top candidate in Brooklyn, the Clippers and possibly Milwaukee. With those teams tripping over themselves to get at Hollins, the writing is on the wall that he is likely moving on now that his contract is up.
Chris Wallace: For most of the year Wallace has been the vocal face of the Grizzlies, although for some time he’s been more of a figure head than a decision maker – that duty now falls on managing partner Jason Levien. To be fair, the Grizz speak the world of Wallace and have credited him privately with a number of moves and decisions. While Wallace has said he’d like to be back, there are other openings that Wallace has been linked to such as the Sacramento Kings that would offer more power and authority than he’ll have in Memphis.
Tony Allen: Allen is headed for unrestricted free agency and while keeping one of the league’s top perimeter defenders would seem like a no-brainer, Allen is going to command a hefty raise from the $3.3 million he was paid this year and that might price him out of Memphis. The other factor in Allen’s future is Hollins’ future. To say that Allen and teammate Zach Randolph run the show is an understatement. Hollins has figured out a way to keep both players in check and have success. With Hollins likely out of the picture Allen may opt to find another situation where he can flourish. The one saving grace for Memphis is that Allen loves playing with Randolph and loves the grit and grind of the Grizzlies. If that’s going to change because of Hollins departure, Allen may very well leave too.
Jerryd Bayless: Bayless holds a player option worth $3.1 million. The smart money says Bayless is opting out if only to get a longer term deal at near the same money. But given how much he showed this season he may find more money out there than initially expected. Either way there is a strong chance that Bayless is out in Memphis, although re-signing him at or about $3 million per season likely works for the Grizz. The question is does Bayless want to stay?
Zach Randolph: Every single time Randolph’s name gets mentioned in trade rumors the Grizzlies flatly deny that it’s under consideration. Randolph has two more seasons on his deal, worth $17.8 million year next year and a player option year for 2014-15 worth $16.5 million. The question for the Grizzlies is how does Randolph fit long-term especially if Hollins is not the coach? If Hollins comes back keeping Randolph makes a ton of sense. If a new coach is coming in, that might not work as smoothly. The Grizz say Randolph is all but untouchable, but if the Grizzlies have to re-invent themselves is Randolph’s value any higher than it is right now? It’s doubtful that moving Randolph ever gets any serious consideration, however, you can expect that it’s going to be speculated about in the media simply because of how difficult he can be as a player. If a new staff is coming in, keeping Randolph happy and productive might be a daunting task. To be fair, Randolph and Hollins have had their share of issues too, so maybe a new coach is what is needed for him.
The Grizzlies hold three second round draft picks (the 41st, the 55th and the 60th overall picks). The Grizzlies are also sitting on $57.8 million in salary commitments and $68.03 million if all of the option years are picked up.
We Want To Know:
Kings Moving Forward: While the NBA has yet to formally approve the sale of the Sacramento Kings to Vivek Ranadive and his local ownership group, it appears the Indian software tycoon is looking at his new teams’ options and that includes massive changes on the basketball operations side.
USA Today Sports’ Sam Amick is reporting that Ranadive has already started reaching out to possible candidates including front office executives R.C. Buford of the Spurs, Travis Schlenk of the Warriors and possibly current Grizzles GM Chris Wallace.
Current Kings’ President Geoff Petrie is expected to step down in what’s likely going to be called a retirement.
The Kings are also expected to replace head coach Keith Smart and the front runner appears to be Golden State assistant coach Mike Malone, although sources in coaching circles say that the new executive in Sacramento would be making the coaching hire for the Kings and until that is settled coaching is a secondary problem.
The Kings hold the seventh overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, marking this their seventh consecutive lottery selection. The Kings have not had a winning record since 2005-06.
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Is Today The Day?: The Denver Nuggets and the Toronto Raptors could have some closure today as reigning Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri is expected to reach some level of closure on his status as the “most coveted GM in the NBA”.
Sources close to the process say Ujiri wanted the extended weekend to ponder his options and while the Nuggets have indicated they would match offers if they were equal, Toronto’s reported four-year, $9 million offer might be too rich for Denver’s blood.
It’s clear that the Raptors are “all in” on Ujiri, according to sources. However, it’s also unclear how much Denver will really match to keep him.
Both the Raptors and Nuggets have started to kick the tires on secondary options, so it’s not as if either team is going to be holding the laundry when a final decision is reached.
Sources say neither team has put a hard deadline on Ujiri for an answer, but sources say he would like to get some closure soon and that could happen as early as today.
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