Like we are currently seeing in the NFL, the 2011 NBA off-season is up in the air with a lockout looming. Free agency could be delayed and completely restructured depending on the new agreement reached by the owners and players. Still, The Sports Bank continues to break down all thirty NBA teams to see what areas they need to address in the off-season.
By: David Kay
Memphis Grizzlies (46-36 last season)
’10-’11 Season in Review:
After a solid regular season in which the Grizzlies finished with the third best record in franchise history, Memphis really hit their stride in the post-season. The eighth seed in the Western Conference, the Griz upset the top seed Spurs and then took the Thunder to seven games before bowing out in the second round.
The biggest reason for their success was the emergence of Zach Randolph. Randolph put up similar numbers as recent years but developed a killer instinct which he had been lacking in the past. He also continued to show improved maturity putting the days of his reputation as a trouble maker long behind him. That production earned Randolph a four-year, $71 million contract extension as the Grizzlies did not want Randolph to hit the open market.
His frontcourt Marc Gasol had a decent regular season but really stepped up his play in the post-season was a huge reason Memphis nearly advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
With Rudy Gay sidelined due to a shoulder injury, the Grizzlies made a trade deadline move by acquiring veteran Shane Battier for super-project big man Hasheem Thabeet and a first round pick. That acquisition proved to be a steal, not because of Battier’s numbers, but because of the experience and leadership he brought to a relatively young club.
Memphis also got solid production from their backcourt despite the O.J. Mayo/Tony Allen post-card game altercation midway through the season. While Mayo regressed through the most inconsistent season of his career and was nearly traded to Indiana, Allen brought an attitude to the floor and the ability to lockdown defensively against opposing team’s wings. Second year player Sam Young was a key contributor as well and seems to be a steal of a second round pick. Rookie Xavier Henry was a disappointment and needs more time to develop before he is ready to step into the rotation.
In a crucial fourth year and coming off a contract extension, Mike Conley had his best season as a pro and opened eyes in the post-season despite not shooting the ball well. Rookie Greivis Vasquez seems like he will have a solid NBA career as a back-up and added depth at the point.
2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:
C: *Marc Gasol/#Hamed Haddadi
PF: Zach Randolph/Darrell Arthur
SF: Rudy Gay/^Sam Young/Xavier Henry
SG: Tony Allen/O.J. Mayo
PG: Mike Conley/Greivis Vasquez/Ishmael Smith
SF-Shane Battier (UFA)
PF-Leon Powe (UFA)
*C-Marc Gasol (RFA)
^SG-Sam Young (TO)
#C-Hamed Haddadi (RFA)
’11-’12 Team Salary: Approximately $53.4 million
1. Re-sign Gasol:
The Griz took care of Randolph with a lengthy extension and after his playoff performance, Marc Gasol is next. He is a restricted free agent and Memphis has the ability to match any offer he signs in the off-season. I cannot imagine a team throwing too much money at Gasol to scare the Grizzlies off so expect the Spaniard to get paid as Memphis will not want to break-up one of the emerging frontcourts in the league.
2. Bring Back Battier:
Rudy Gay’s name has already popped up in several trade rumors this off-season but it would be surprising if the Griz ended up dealing him just because he was injured at the end of the season. Even with Gay returning, Memphis needs to bring back Shane Battier because of the intangibles and off-the-court presence he brings to the team. Several teams should be interested in Battier’s services especially since he embraces the defensive end, so the Griz will have to convince the former Dukie to come back.
3. Frontcourt Depth:
Even if Gasol is re-signed, the Grizzlies need to find an up-grade in their frontcourt depth. Darrell Arthur is a solid back-up to Zach Randolph but Hammed Haddadi and Leon Powe were the remaining bigs on the roster after Thabeet was dealt. A true center who can play a small role off the bench and bring some physicality to the paint would be a wise investment.
OTHER NBA TEAM NEEDS PAGES:
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
NEW JERSEY NETS
NEW YORK KNICKS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POINT GUARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SHOOTING GUARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SMALL FORWARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POWER FORWARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT CENTER RANKINGS
CHECK OUT THE SPORTS BANK’S 2011 NBA MOCK DRAFT
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.