The Memphis Grizzlies have been a physical team that bludgeons the opponent into submission over the years. Their combination of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in the post would constantly beat up opposing teams inside. And with that combination inside and Mike Conley Jr. giving them good point guard play, they have rode that success to playoff appearance after playoff appearance. But unfortunately for them, they have not been able to turn the corner and win a title. Each season, the Grizzlies continued to use this formula to win games and make the playoffs. Last year, they ran into a buzzsaw when they faced the Golden State Warriors and lost in the Conference semifinals. Going into the offseason, the Grizzlies had to make a decision on center Marc Gasol. Were they going to let him walk in free agency or were they going to bring him back and team him with Randolph again? Well, the Grizzlies decided they were not done with him just yet and signed Gasol to a five-year, $110 million deal to remain with the team. The thinking was they would pick up right where they left off. But unfortunately, the Grizzlies have not gained the traction they thought they would. The team currently stands at 19-17 which is good for sixth place in the West. But looking at this team as they currently stand, they are not ready to win a title at all and are not serious contenders. They have moved Zach Randolph out of the starting lineup and have went to a small lineup with Matt Barnes and Jeff Green starting at the forwards. But in all honesty, this team has missed the window of opportunity they had to win a title.
The Grizzlies were a team that seemed to have all the pieces except for one during their runs in the playoffs. They had solid point guard play and great inside play with Randolph and Gasol, but they never were able to get someone consistent at the small forward position. They once had a guy there at that position in Rudy Gay, but they traded him away to Toronto in 2013. But ever since then, they have never been able to replace his production at the position. It seems like everyone in the West had a small forward or wing player that could defend and make things happen on the offensive end but them. And now they are stuck with a guy like Jeff Green. The Grizzlies traded for him from Boston and thought they had solved the small forward position. But Green has been the same inconsistent player he has always been and that has not helped the Grizzlies at all. And what hurts them even more is they are paying Green $9 million this season for 10.7 points and the inconsistent play that has plagued him for virtually his whole career. Another thing that has plagued this team is consistent bench scoring. This year they have a solid bench in terms of scoring. With Zach Randolph and Mario Chalmers coming in off the bench, they surely have firepower that can pick them up when they have droughts. But over the years, they have had some pretty pedestrian bench scoring. And that has not helped when they are in the playoffs and need someone to give them a lift on that end. These two things along with bad shooting has cost the Grizzlies time and time again on their playoff runs.
Going forward, the Grizzlies have to make a move. This team is 19-18, but they are 5-15 against teams that are over .500 this season, which is not good at all. The team has been shaken up a little by going with the smaller lineup. But even with that, the Grizzlies have not gone on a run like they usually do. So since the team is not likely to go anywhere, it is time to make some deals. The first deal that would happen is Jeff Green going somewhere. The veteran small forward has a contract that is expiring at the end of the season. Some team trying to contend will get fooled by the potential of Green and want to give up a pick for him or either some talented young players. With that happening, that gives the Grizzlies more cap space to operate going into the 2016 season and potentially some picks to work with. The move also could free up playing time for young wing Jordan Adams. The next player that needs to go is Zach Randolph. The Grizzlies are paying him over $9 million to be a bench player for them. His stats have declined for the last three years. And although he has endured himself to the city of Memphis, the relationship has gone as far as it can go. They may have missed the window to get rid of him, but they may as well try to see what they can get for him. The main thing with potentially trading both of these players is to shed money and to get younger. At some point, the Grizzlies have to retool. They cannot continue to try and add pieces to win and struggle like they are right now.
The run has been great to watch. The Grizzlies did it their way and did it better than anyone else. But unfortunately, they did not have the pieces that they needed to win that elusive title while they were searching for. Now the Grizzlies are a team that is past their expiration date. And that means it is time for them to start making some wholesale changes and get younger. We shall see what happens, but the writing is on the wall about this team already.