2011-12 Record: 41-25, third place in Southwest Division, eliminated in first round of NBA Playoffs by Los Angeles Clippers
2012 NBA Draft: G Tony Wroten Jr. (Washington, 25th pick overall)
Offseason Losses: G O.J Mayo (signed with Dallas Mavericks), G Jeremy Pargo (traded to Cleveland Cavaliers), F Dante Cunningham (traded to Minnesota Timberwolves)
Resigned: F Darrell Arthur (3 years, $9 million), F Marreese Speights (2 years, $7 million), C Hamed Haddadi (1 year, $1.35 million)
Projected Starting Line-up: PG Mike Conley, SG Tony Allen, SF Rudy Gay, PF Zach Randolph, C Marc Gasol
OFFSEASON GRADE: C +
A “C +” letter grade is in no way a reflection of the quality of this team.
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
General Manager Chris Wallace has his core group of guys in place with Conley, Gay, Randolph and Gasol. All 4 players are signed to long-term deals, so drastically altering the make-up of this team this summer was never in question.
Losing O.J Mayo to the Dallas Mavericks was quite the hit. His role with Memphis had diminished over the last few years as he went from a full-fledged 82 game starter to the Grizzlies 6th man off the bench, but he was still an outstanding scorer who could create his own offense and attack the basket at a high rate.
At just 24 years old, it would have been nice to see Memphis make more of an effort to try to keep Mayo as his potential to become an even greater player is sky-high. At the very least, his role with the Mavericks will be larger than if he had stayed with the Grizzlies. That was a huge selling point.
The Grizzlies are now hoping that newly acquired guard Jerryd Bayless (who spent the past 2 seasons with the Toronto Raptors) can come in and fill the hole left vacant by Mayo’s departure.
Bayless is also relatively young in his own right (24 years old), but unlike Mayo, Jerryd has never had the opportunity to truly showcase his ability on the court, having never averaged more than 22 minutes a game in a season. He is coming off his most statistically successful season after averaging 11.4 points and 3.8 assists with the Raptors in 11-12. Bayless will surely get more minutes as a Grizzly, mainly as a backup to point guard Mike Conley and possibly even seeing starters-type minutes at the 2 spot as well.
Another move that was made to shore up the teams depth at the guard positions was in the recent NBA Draft when Memphis selected Tony Wroten Jr. out of the University of Washington with the teams 25th pick. In 35 games for the Huskies, Tony averaged 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He’s a work in progress and will more than likely need 1 or 2 full seasons to fully develop, but selecting Wroten Jr. 25th overall was a nice safe pick as he has the potential to be a consistent scoring threat for the 2nd unit in the near future.
Resigning power forward Darrell Arthur to a new 3 year deal worth $9 million dollars was huge. Arthur missed the entire season because of a torn Achilles Tendon, but according to new reports, it appears that his recovery is going extremely well and he will be back on the courts in Memphis in no time. With former Grizzlies big Dante Cunningham now in Minnesota after a trade for below-average shooting guard Wayne Ellington, it’s important to have Arthur back sooner rather than later as he and Dante always had similar skill-sets. Back in 2010-11, Darrell put up averages of 9.1 points and 4.3 rebounds a game while shooting close to 50% from the field. He can shoot the 15-20 foot jumper as well as bang down low and grab offensive rebounds and get easy put back buckets.
Bringing back Marreese Speights was also a smart decision, as he showed tremendous progress in games before the all-star break and for the rest of the regular season at that point on. In 10 games prior to the midseason festivities, Speights averaged 12.4 points and 9.4 rebounds while spelling Zach Randolph at the 4 spot. After the break, he put up numbers of 8.9 points and 6.0 rebounds a game. I’m surprised Marreese didn’t get noticed more in the free-agent pool, but I’m sure Memphis loves the fact that they were able to keep him around as insurance for their all-star starters.
The success of this team will live or die by the starting line-up. That was never in question. These offseason moves were important for depth, shooting and size off the bench, but they aren’t game-changers for the Grizzlies standing in the Western Conference.
Whether or not guys like Marc Gasol and Mike Conley can elevate their games even further will determine if Memphis is more successful in 2013.
An average offseason gets an average grade.
OTHER OFFSEASON RECAPS: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports