Memphis Grizzlies

Marc Gasol Suggests Changes May Be Needed In Memphis

After nine seasons in Memphis, Marc Gasol may be ready for a new start, according to Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. In an interview with a Spanish media outlet, the all-star center indicated the Grizzlies should shake things up if they can’t put together a serious run in the playoffs.

“I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise,” Gasol said. “We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.”

Gasol still has two years and nearly $47MM left on the extension he signed in 2015, plus a player option worth nearly $25.6MM for 2019/20. So it will be a while before he has any leverage to force Memphis into a trade.

He is a three-time all-star and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He appeared in 74 games last season, averaging 19.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per night.

The Grizzlies already lost Zach Randolph, who signed with the Kings after eight years in Memphis, while Tony Allen, another key player from the “grit and grind” era, remains a free agent and appears unlikely to return.

Tayshaun Prince To Join Grizzlies’ Front Office

Longtime NBA forward Tayshaun Prince will be transitioning to a front office role for the upcoming season, according to Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal, who reports that the Grizzlies will soon name Prince a special assistant to general manager Chris Wallace.

According to Tillery, the Grizzlies think that Prince will bring a “unique” perspective to the club’s decision-making process. The Commercial Appeal report notes that the veteran forward has long been considered a strong influence in NBA locker rooms, and was a “calming voice” during his time as a player for the Grizzlies.

Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press had initially reported last month that Prince was mulling the possibility of joining the Grizzlies in a front office or coaching capacity. At that time, the 37-year-old was also said to be holding out hope for a possible on-court return, but it appears a comeback wasn’t in the cards for the 14-year veteran.

Prince, the 23rd overall pick in the 2002 draft, spent nearly a decade with the Pistons after breaking into the NBA, winning a title with the franchise in 2004. After his time in Detroit, Prince had stints with the Grizzlies, Celtics, Timberwolves, and Pistons (again). However, he didn’t play last season, having last appeared in an NBA game in 2015/16 for Minnesota.

If Prince doesn’t play another NBA game, he’ll finish his career having averaged 11.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 2.4 APG in more than 1,000 career games, including 792 with the Pistons.

Pacers Sign Ben Moore To Camp Deal

AUGUST 15: Nearly two full months after Moore’s agreement with the Pacers was initially reported, the team has announced the deal, making it official. According to the Pacers, Moore isn’t expected to break camp with the club — he’ll be an affiliate player for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Indiana’s G League affiliate.

JUNE 23: The Pacers have reached an agreement on a free agent deal with former SMU power forward Ben Moore, according to Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter). Woo reports that Moore’s contract with Indiana will feature a partial guarantee.

International basketball journalist David Pick had initially reported that Moore would be joining the Grizzlies on a partially guaranteed deal, but later tweeted an update, confirming that the 22-year-old had opted for Indiana over Memphis.

Moore, ranked as 2017’s No. 38 senior prospect by DraftExpress, averaged 11.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 1.1 BPG during his final year at SMU. When he finalizes his partially guaranteed deal with the Pacers, he figures to be part of the team’s 20-man roster in training camp, and could have a chance to compete for a regular season roster spot.

Moore is the third SMU prospect to find a new NBA home this week, joining teammates Semi Ojeleye and Sterling Brown, who were both second-round picks on Thursday.

What’s Next For Unsigned Restricted Free Agents?

An unusually high number of notable restricted free agents remain unsigned as August nears its halfway point, and the rumor mill has been quiet on those players as of late. After the league-wide free agent spending spree in the summer of 2016, many of these RFAs likely entered free agency this year anticipating huge paydays, and were disappointed to see many potential suitors use up their cap room quickly.

Here’s the current list of restricted free agents still on the board:Nikola Mirotic vertical

The updates on those players have been few and far between over the last month or so. Early in free agency, Green’s agent seemed pessimistic about his client remaining in Memphis, suggesting that the Grizzlies seemed to be going in a “different direction.” However, with no offer sheet yet in hand, Green still looks like a decent bet to stay with his current team.

Plumlee, meanwhile, may not have as clear as role as the Nuggets initially envisioned when they acquired him, since the team nabbed Paul Millsap in free agency. Denver gave up a lot in the trade for Plumlee and presumably still wants to bring him back as Nikola Jokic‘s backup at center. But with Millsap making approximately $30MM annually and Jokic due for a mega-deal of his own as soon as next summer, the Nuggets may be reluctant to invest heavily in Plumlee as well.

As for Len, Mirotic, and Noel, there has been little indication that they’re going anywhere — all three of their respective teams still have a ton of cap flexibility, and could comfortably match virtually any offer sheet they’re dealt. Those offer sheets just don’t seem to be out there right now, since almost every team with the ability to make a big offer has its own RFA to worry about.

Besides Phoenix, Chicago, and Dallas, there are a small number of teams that could make an aggressive offer for a restricted free agent. The Sixers are really the only other club with a significant amount of leftover cap room, and based on their one-year agreements with J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson, it appears Bryan Colangelo and company want to avoid multiyear commitments that would compromise their 2018 cap space.

So what’s next for these restricted free agents? October 1 is the next key date to watch. That’s the day that each RFA’s qualifying offer will expire. Up until that point, any of those five players could accept the qualifying offer and play on a one-year deal, opting to try his luck at the open market again in 2018 as an unrestricted free agent. Green, Len, Mirotic, Noel, and Plumlee all figure to still be looking for longer-term deals, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see one or two of them signs that QO.

If an RFA situation remains unresolved beyond October 1, the player is still restricted, but no longer has the option of accepting his qualifying offer. With the regular season fast approaching at that point, players don’t have much leverage, and a situation can go south in a hurry.

A year ago, it was December before Donatas Motiejunas finally found an offer sheet, but that lucrative four-year deal with the Nets fell through after Houston matched it — the Rockets and Motiejunas couldn’t agree on incentive details, the forward skipped his physical, and the two sides eventually parted ways. Motiejunas, who later signed for the minimum and is now out of the NBA, could act as a cautionary tale this fall for RFAs who don’t yet have a deal when training camps begin.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Teams Carrying At Least 15 Guaranteed Contracts

As we detailed earlier today in our breakdown of each NBA team’s current roster count, clubs can carry up to 20 players in the offseason, but are limited to 15 players on their regular season rosters. As such, teams will often only carry 13 or 14 players on guaranteed contracts into training camp, giving a non-guaranteed player or two the opportunity to impress coaches and earn a spot on the 15-man squad.

However, even with training camps still a month and a half away, several NBA teams are already carrying 15 or more players with fully guaranteed salaries, limiting their roster flexibility and their ability to take fliers on camp invitees.

Here’s a breakdown of those teams, with their fully guaranteed salaries noted in parentheses:

  • Boston Celtics (16)
  • Golden State Warriors (15)
  • Memphis Grizzlies (15)
  • Sacramento Kings (15)
  • Utah Jazz (15)

Of those five teams, the Celtics are the only club that will absolutely have to trade or waive a player on a guaranteed contract before the regular season gets underway. Shane Larkin and Daniel Theis may be the most at-risk players, since they don’t have any guaranteed money on their deals beyond the 2017/18 season. Abdel Nader and Semi Ojeleye also don’t have fully guaranteed salaries beyond this season, though they have partial guarantees for 2018/19.

Meanwhile, the Grizzlies will be in the same boat as Boston if they ultimately bring back restricted free agent JaMychal Green. A new deal for Green would give Memphis 16 guaranteed salaries. The Grizzlies also haven’t signed second-round pick Ivan Rabb, so if they intend to do so, they could create an even more significant roster crunch.

The other teams on the list above should, for the most part, have their 15-man regular season rosters locked in at this point, but if changes need to be made, the Kings should be willing to eat a guaranteed contract — they’re still well below the cap. The Jazz could afford to eat some money too, if necessary. The Warriors may be the team that needs to best make use of all 15 roster spots as they look to defend their title, but replacing a player on a guaranteed contract would be pricey, since Golden State is already deep into tax territory.

Finally, one other team worth watching is the Thunder. Currently, Oklahoma City only has 14 players on guaranteed contracts for 2017/18, but that figure doesn’t include Jerami Grant or Semaj Christon, both of whom could have a place on the club’s roster this season. I don’t think Grant will be going anywhere, so the Thunder may have to decide whether to part ways with Christon or whether another move can be made to keep him on the 15-man roster.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

Ben McLemore Expected To Miss 12 Weeks With Foot Injury

Newly-signed Grizzlies guard Ben McLemore may not be ready for his new team’s regular season opener. According to Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com (via Twitter), McLemore underwent surgery on his right foot on Tuesday, and is expected to be sidelined for approximately 12 weeks. The Grizzlies confirmed the news in a press release.

According to the Grizzlies’ announcement, McLemore has been diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. The injury occurred during a pick-up game in Los Angeles, when McLemore landed on another player’s foot following a drive to the basket.

If McLemore is able to return 12 weeks from today, he’d get back on the court on October 31. While regular season schedules for the 2017/18 campaign haven’t yet been announced, the season will begin on October 17, so the former seventh overall pick would miss the entire preseason and two weeks of the regular season in that scenario.

It’s unfortunate news for a Grizzlies team that has been hit hard by injuries to key players over the last couple seasons. While it remains to be seen what sort of role McLemore will play in Memphis, he represents the club’s top free agent investment of the summer so far — the 24-year-old signed a two-year, $10.66MM contract with the Grizzlies last month.

Poll: Which Southwest Team Had Best Offseason?

In the days and weeks leading up to free agency, Chris Paul was frequently linked to the Spurs, who were viewed as the most likely landing spot for the star point guard if he left the Clippers. However, the Rockets were the team that swooped in before the free agent period even began to acquire Paul, sending seven players and a draft pick to L.A. in the deal that landed CP3 in Houston.

The Rockets‘ trade for Paul – along with the signing of P.J. Tucker – makes them an obvious pick for the Southwest team that had the best offseason, but the price for CP3 was steep, considering he was about to become an unrestricted free agent. Sixth Man of the Year finalist Lou Williams and All-Defensive First-Teamer Patrick Beverley were among the outgoing pieces in that deal, along with young big men Montrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker. Still, while the Rockets’ depth – particularly in the backcourt – may have taken a hit, pairing Paul with James Harden should make it worthwhile.

As for the Spurs, they ended up not clearing out cap room for a marquee outside free agent, opting instead to re-sign several of their own FAs, including Patty Mills, Pau Gasol, and Manu Ginobili. The club also made use of its exceptions to add Rudy Gay and Joffrey Lauvergne, though Jonathon Simmons and Dewayne Dedmon left for new teams.

Elsewhere in the division, the Pelicans entered the offseason virtually capped out, but made several interesting moves, including re-signing Jrue Holiday and adding Rajon Rondo, Ian Clark, and Frank Jackson to their backcourt.

While the Grizzlies didn’t make major changes to their core, several veterans moved on, with Zach Randolph and Vince Carter heading to Sacramento. Tony Allen – who is still on the open market – also appears unlikely to remain in Memphis. Restricted free agent JaMychal Green is a better bet to re-sign, and if he does, he’ll join new additions like Ben McLemore, Tyreke Evans, and Rade Zagorac.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks sat out of free agency for the first time in several years. However, despite the lack of big splashes, Dallas’ offseason looks like a successful one — the team managed to re-sign Dirk Nowitzki to a very modest contract, landed a very promising rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., and don’t appear to have major competition for RFA Nerlens Noel, which should make him a little more affordable than anticipated.

What do you think? Which Southwest team had the best offseason? Does the Rockets’ acquisition of Paul instantly give them the edge, or did another team’s summer moves impress you more?

Vote below, and jump into the comment section to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Previously:

Checking In On Unsigned 2017 Draft Picks

One month into the 2017/18 NBA league year, most of this year’s draftees know where they’ll be playing for the upcoming season. As our tracker for draft pick signings shows, we’re only waiting for resolution on a small group of players.

Twenty-nine of 30 first-round picks have signed their first NBA contracts, and the 30th – Sixers big man Anzejs Pasecniks – will remain overseas for at least one more year. Meanwhile, in the second round, about half of this year’s picks have signed NBA contracts, a handful of others have agreed to two-way deals, and some will continue to play international ball.

There’s no rush at this point for teams to finalize plans for the last few unsigned draft picks from this year’s class, but it’s still worth checking in to see where things stand for those players. Here are the 2017 draftees whose statuses for ’17/18 appear to be up in the air:

  • Ivan Rabb (Memphis Grizzlies, No. 35): The Grizzlies signed 45th overall pick Dillon Brooks, but have yet to lock up Rabb, who now finds himself in an interesting spot. Memphis already has 15 players on guaranteed contracts for 2017/18, and that total doesn’t even include RFA JaMychal Green, who seems likely to return. Even though there’s no current opening for Rabb, he was probably too high a draft pick to accept a two-way contract, so perhaps the Grizzlies ultimately intend to trade or waive a player (or two) to make room. Otherwise, it’s not clear what the plan is for Rabb.
  • Isaiah Hartenstein (Houston Rockets, No. 43): International basketball reporter David Pick provided an update on Hartenstein today, tweeting that Houston will likely have him start with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the G League. So far, no player drafted earlier than No. 51 has signed a two-way contract, and typically only players selected at the very end of the draft accept straight G League contracts. If Hartenstein is willing to go to the G League, it would be a great value move for the Rockets.
  • Nigel Williams-Goss (Utah Jazz, No. 55): Two weeks ago, we heard that Williams-Goss was a candidate for Utah’s second two-way contract opening. The Jazz haven’t made a move to fill that slot since then, so I’d expect Williams-Goss remains the leading candidate.
  • Jabari Bird (Boston Celtics, No. 56): Like Williams-Goss in Utah, Bird appears to be the top candidate for the final two-way contract opening in Boston. Such a move would make a lot of sense. There isn’t enough room on the Celtics’ regular-season roster for Bird, and the four players selected with the picks from 51 through 54 in this year’s draft all got two-way deals — it’s logical that the 55th and 56th picks would too.

Ian Clark Wants More Than Minimum; Wolves Still Interested

Free agent Ian Clark is still hoping for more than the minimum salary, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.

The Timberwolves are interested in signing the fourth-year guard shooting guard, who spent the past two seasons in Golden State. Tony Allen, formerly of the Grizzlies, remains another free agent possibility for Minnesota.

Clark has received multiple minimum-salary offers but is holding out for something better, according to Wolfson. The Wolves are operating just under the cap and already used their $4.3MM room mid-level exception on Jamal Crawford.

Clark appeared in 77 games for the Warriors last season, averaging 6.8 points per night and shooting a career-best 37% from 3-point range. He is seeking a raise from his 2016/17 salary of a little more than $1.015MM.

Mario Chalmers Receives $25K Guarantee

  • Mario Chalmers is back in the NBA, but his contract suggests he doesn’t necessarily have job security quite yet. According to Pincus (Twitter link), only $25K of Chalmers’ minimum salary deal with the Grizzlies is currently guaranteed.
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