The past few weeks have been extremely hectic for the Memphis Grizzlies. Multiple front office personnel have been fired, and even the future of the head coach, David Joerger, is up in the air. However, despite these problems that the organization is having, the Grizzlies need to start focusing on free agency and resigning their players, because, as it stands, there are going to be a bunch of very difficult decisions that will have to be made by the organization due to their financial issues.
As it stands, here is a list of the current players on the Grizzlies as well as how much they will effect the salary cap for the team this upcoming season:
Player Cap Hit For Next Season
Zach Randolph 16,938,333 (Player Option)
Marc Gasol 15,823,688
Mike Conley 9,294,216
Tayshaun Prince 7,707,865
Courtney Lee 5,450,000
Tony Allen 4,831,461
Ed Davis 4,361,788 (Qualifying Offer)
Kosta Koufos 3,000,000 (Non-Guaranteed)
Quincy Pondexter 3,146,068
Mike Miller Unrestricted Free Agent
Beno Udrih Unrestricted Free Agent
Jon Leuer 967,500
James Johnson Unrestricted Free Agent
Jamaal Franklin 816,482
Nick Calathes 816,482 (Club Option)
Fab Melo 437,080 (Dead Money)
As seen above, if Zach Randolph decides to accept his player option and Kosta Koufos gets his guaranteed money, the Grizzlies will be slightly 6 million dollars above next season’s expected salary cap of 63.2 million dollars. If Ed Davis takes his qualifying offer, the team will then be more than 10 million dollars above next season’s salary cap. That would mean that the team would only be able to sign players using the mid-level exception. Because of this, the best way to break down next season’s salary cap is to talk about each player who will be (or potentially will be) a free agent and how they fit into the Grizzlies’ plans for next season, as well as if the team could even afford the players with the little amount of money they will have in the first place.
The most important free agent for the Grizzlies to retain is Randolph. Randolph is the team’s biggest scoring threat on offense, and he is pretty much the only reason the team’s offense isn’t ranked dead last. Even if Randolph’s absence would lead to the team having more than 10 million dollars to work with above the cap, that would hardly be enough money to find a suitable replacement for the talented power forward.
However, it is looking like that may slowly be starting to become the team’s only option at this rate. Randolph wasn’t extremely likely to be staying in Memphis as the season ended, and with the crazy front office changes that are being made, it would be hard to blame him for leaving. Not only do the front office changes show that the team is considering rebuilding, which means there is very little room for the 32-year-old veteran, but the changes also show that there is no clear goals set for the future. With his career winding down, Randolph is going to want to play for a team that can contend, and the Grizzlies aren’t looking like they will be able to contend in the next few years. While there is still a chance Randolph stays for his lucrative payday of 16.5 million dollars this next season, it is very likely that he will instead leave for a team that he can possibly win a title with.
The return of Davis is very much up in the air despite the fact that he is a restricted free agent. On one hand, Davis has barely improved in his 4 years in the NBA. He’s putting up decent numbers for a backup, but Davis doesn’t look like he will be able to amount to much more than that role at this point in his career. On the other hand, if Randolph leaves, the Grizzlies are going to need at least one decent power forward.
Davis’s fate is going to be determined by Randolph’s decision: if Randolph stays, Davis will not be returning, and if Randolph leaves, Davis will probably be playing another season in Memphis. Either way, Davis will not cost the team too much more than the qualifying offer listed above (about 4 million dollars), as no team is going to want to pay too much more for a player of his caliber. However, the question remains: is that amount of money worth resigning Davis?
Beno Udrih and James Johnson
The reason both of these players are grouped together is because they were both signed in the middle of the season. While they did play pretty well for the amount of time they were given on the court, they were signed for very niche reasons that can easily be filled during free agency with other players. As such, it is very, very unlikely these players return to the Grizzlies, as, with money being as tight as it will be next year, their salaries will likely go to players who will be expected to contribute to the team during the entire season.
Of all players who are currently free agents, Miller is the most likely to return. While not outstanding last year, he met the expectations that the Grizzlies had for him as a sharpshooter. Along with that, with the exception of Randolph, the absence of Miller would create the biggest whole on the team. Miller was the only consistent sharpshooter the Grizzlies had, so without him, the team doesn’t have much to rely on beyond the arc.
Miller will not be very expensive to resign. He will probably command around 1.5 million dollars, which is around the amount of money the Grizzlies paid him last year. Overall, expect Miller to resign with the Grizzlies, but, like all players on this list, don’t be surprised if he isn’t in Memphis next season because of the little amount of money they will have to sign players next year.