Report Card Grades for Memphis Grizzlies' 2014 Offseason so Far
The Memphis Grizzlies made moderate roster improvements without any wholesale changes. The Grizzlies kept their core together by retaining Zach Randolph for a couple more years and inserted a bit more support behind them.
Randolph's deal set the tone for the offseason, dictating how much Memphis could spend in free agency. His $16.9 million option (including performance bonuses) narrowed the pool of players they could pursue.
The Grizzlies finished the draft with a couple useful players, although without big splashes. Jordan Adams could be a nice player offensively but doesn't have many tools that address the Grizzlies' needs. Jarnell Stokes was a high-value second-round draftee who should make noise as a heady defender.
With their nearly full roster and payroll position, they made two smart transactions, bringing Beno Udrih back into the fold and grabbing Vince Carter. Carter is one of the biggest names ever roped in by the Grizzlies in free agency.
Follow along for grades on each transaction. Grades are evaluated based on player impact, team needs and, for signed players, cost effectiveness.
Unless otherwise noted, advanced metrics come from basketball-reference.com.
Extending Zach Randolph
Locking Zach Randolph in for a couple more years was vital, but the 13-year pro was able to have it both ways. He opted in for one last big salary before taking the cut to $10 million for each of the following two years.
Taking away such a big chunk in the Grizzlies' first transaction of the offseason, Randolph crimped the team's flexibility under the luxury tax threshold.
If the five-year Grizzly had opted out and left the additional $6.9 million on the table, Memphis would have been able to do more in trades. Also, they would have been able to offer a player the full mid-level exception amount of $5.3 million, in addition to the biannual exception.
Nevertheless, the Grizzlies will enjoy the remaining productivity of an aging fan-favorite. Randolph, who led the team with 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and compiled 47 double-doubles, still makes a difference. His defense is deteriorating, but a healthy Marc Gasol will make up for many of his lapses.
Drafting Jordan Adams
The Grizzlies needed additional spacing and outside shooting. While Jordan Adams creates space and can hit perimeter shots, he doesn't lift their deficient three-point shooting or scoring depth.
While he shot 35.6 percent from three-point range, it's hard to tell if he'll connect in the pros.
He can drive hard and make plays. But his ball-handling troubles lead him to numerous turnovers. DraftExpress.com described him as a "straight line ball-handler."
The Grizzlies passed on more prolific scorers such as P.J. Hairston and Rodney Hood to take Adams.
He lacks the athleticism to be a truly effective defender. However, his 6'10" wingspan and aggression allow him to get numerous steals.
The Grizzlies encounter a redundancy problem at a position where they don't have overwhelming talent. They have four shooting guards. Courtney Lee and Tony Allen consume the bulk of the minutes. That leaves sparse playing time for Adams and Jamaal Franklin.
Having Adams means Memphis has an extra guy in case Allen or Lee gets traded. Still, that doesn't mean he gets more minutes since veterans like Beno Udrih and Vince Carter stand in front of him.
Drafting Jarnell Stokes
Jarnell Stokes was something of a steal for the Grizzlies. DraftExpress.com slotted him as the No. 25 prospect, and the Grizz selected him with the No. 35 pick.
Stokes will be a helpful defensive player for the Grizzlies. He plays tough on that end and fights for rebounds. He grabbed 10.5 rebounds per game in his last year at Tennessee.
His 7'1" wingspan makes up for his unimpressive height of 6'8.5".
CBSSports.com's Zach Harper raved about how Stokes would meld into the team ethic, saying, "He's big and strong. He'll fit in with the Grit 'n' Grind mentality."
On the other hand, DraftExpress.com warned he has limitations defensively, noting, "He will be at a disadvantage on the perimeter due to his poor lateral quickness while being somewhat undersized on the interior."
Stokes has nice touch on the inside, hitting 53.5 percent. He works the offensive glass, averaging 4.2 offensive rebounds per game.
Replacing Ed Davis with Stokes adds toughness and more reliable length to the power forward rotation.
Re-Signing Beno Udrih
Re-signing Beno Udrih was a forward-looking move. Since Nick Calathes was set to miss 13 games to start the regular season to finish a 20-game suspension for violating the NBA's substance abuse policy, the Grizzlies needed a backup behind Mike Conley. Besides, having a third point guard is a good insurance policy in case something happens with Conley or Calathes.
Anyway, Udrih is not only a sure-handed backup point guard but also a tremendous offensive asset. He's a three-point threat, hitting 35.6 percent for his career. He shoots well overall, knocking down 46.1 percent of shots from the field.
The Grizzlies are also rewarding someone who came through with big shots in the playoffs. Udrih scored in double figures three times in the series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He hit a couple shots in the fourth quarters of Games 2 and 3 and had two assists in overtime in Game 2.
Signing Vince Carter
Picking up Vince Carter was one of the biggest signings the Grizzlies ever made. Besides Tony Allen, this small-market club has never swiped such a big difference-maker from another team in free agency.
Carter provides greater instant offense off the bench than any Grizz reserve last season. He averaged 11.9 points in just 24.4 minutes per game, 3.5 more than James Johnson.
Carter is diminishing in his ability to finish inside, connecting on 51.7 percent at the rim and 41 percent from between three and 10 feet. But he's dialing in from long distance. He hit 39.4 percent from three-point range while taking 45.7 percent of his shots from downtown.
His ineffectiveness on defense isn't a problem since he's replacing Mike Miller, who didn't put in work defensively.
The former Dallas Maverick might be 37 years old, but he isn't a great injury risk since he hasn't missed 10 or more games in the past 11 seasons. Also, since he doesn't go inside as much as he had earlier in his career, he's exposed to less contact.
The Grizzlies ensured they can at least remain as good as before by keeping a key player and making a strong free-agency move.
Zach Randolph should have a couple good years left. His lack of reliance on athleticism and above-the-rim play means he won't fall off dramatically.
Adding Carter gives them a chance at a series win. His bench scoring improves the team's overall strength in that category a bit. Also, because he averaged 4.6 three-point attempts per game (1.8 more than Mike Miller), he'll be able to make a bigger impact from that range than Miller despite not connecting at quite as high a clip.
The first round of the draft was an opportunity to get a difference-making scorer. However, the Grizz went for a small, grinding player in Adams who has a ridiculous wingspan.
Drafting Adams drags the Grizzlies' grade down.