Memphis Grizzlies 2021 Offseason Outlook


Overview


The Memphis Grizzlies completed the 2020-2021 NBA season with a record of 38-34 which placed them at 8th in the Western Conference and 14th in the league. They qualified for the play-in tournament and after impressive victories over both San Antonio and Golden State, they made it into the playoffs. Despite a great series from Ja Morant, the Grizzlies were eliminated from the first round in five games. After a surprisingly successful season in 2020, the rebuilding Grizzlies took another step forward in 2021, making the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Ja Morant took another impressive leap as well, becoming the clear leader of this team. Later this season, we also saw Jaren Jackson Jr return from injury and in the 11 games he played, he showed some great signs to keep fans excited for next season. The Grizzlies will now look to the offseason where 14 of their current 17 players are already contracted for next season, with their only free agents being end of the bench guys. The Grizzlies are in a great position to just run it back next season and add a draft pick and veteran but don’t be surprised if they go after a starter quality player in the trade market.


Salary Cap


Currently, the Memphis Grizzlies have 13 players with fully guaranteed contacts for the 2021-2022 NBA season. Jontay Porter has a partially guaranteed contract which expects to be fully guaranteed shortly. Justise Winslow also has a $13 million team option going into next season which would see him become the second most expensive player on this roster. I don’t think the Grizzlies should bring him back as it would free up some considerable cap space. Winslow has also spent a large portion of the last few seasons out with injury and when he has been available, he has put up some disappointing displays. However, given what the Grizzlies gave up acquiring Winslow, I don’t expect them to let him walk in free agency, so they will likely give him another opportunity to show the talent that they traded so many assets for. The Grizzlies do not have any restricted free agents, but Killian Tillie is a two-way free agent. They also have a few end of the rotation players entering unrestricted free agency in Tim Frazier and Tyler Dorsey. Given their most expensive player is earning only $14 million, the Grizzlies will have some cap space going into free agency, even if they choose to bring back Winslow and will therefore have the $4.9 million room exception available.


Depth Chart 2020-21 Season–


2021 NBA Draft


The Memphis Grizzlies will have the 17th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and will look to use this pick to add another young talent to their roster. The Grizzlies have some solid depth at all positions so will likely look to take the best prospect available at this point. With the 17th pick in this year’s draft, the Memphis Grizzlies should look to target Cameron Thomas, a 6’4” shooting guard out of LSU. Thomas has amazing potential as a 3-level scorer that can light it up from the perimeter. The Grizzlies are a gritty team on the defensive end and could use a consistent scorer to help boost their offence. Thomas will need to improve his playmaking ability and significantly improve his defensive fundamentals, but his shooting skills alone should be enough to get him selected this high in the draft.


Free Agency


The Memphis Grizzlies will enter free agency with some cap space to use depending on their Justise Winslow decision. If they do bring back Winslow, they will have about $12 million free to use but can go above this and still be under the tax. They could look to go after DeMar DeRozan who likely will not return to the Spurs after a disappointing season. It is realistic that as one of the few teams with considerable cap space, the Spurs could look to sign DeRozan on a one or two year deal worth $15-20 million. DeRozan can be the starting small forward for this team and take some of the offensive load off Ja Morant while bringing a much needed veteran presence to the locker room. Outside of this, there are no substantial signing the Grizzlies can look to make other than trading some of their young assets but with their cap flexibility moving forward and the development of their young players, it makes sense to run it back and see where this team can go before it starts to get very expensive in a few years.


Summary


The Memphis Grizzlies enter the offseason after another improved season. They are an extremely young team that just keeps getting better and with plenty of cap room and a top 20 draft pick, they can add even more talent and continue to grow. The Justise Winslow team option will be a major talking point this offseason with the $13 million option being too much to pay in many people’s mind. If you are a Grizzlies supporter, you should be excited about this young core and what they could achieve after a few more years of development and some veteran presence in the locker room.


Projected Depth Chart 2021/22 Season –