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2022 NBA offseason preview: What's next for the Memphis Grizzlies?

2022 NBA offseason preview: What's next for the Memphis Grizzlies?

In terms of their title-contending window, the Memphis Grizzlies are perhaps in the best position of any team in the NBA.

The fact is that Memphis forced their window open a few years earlier than anyone would have anticipated. The oldest guys on the current roster are Steven Adams and Kyle Anderson, both 28 years of age. At the start of the 2022-23 season, the top three players for the Grizzlies will be 24 years old (Desmond Bane) and 23 years old (Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.). The team with the second-best record in the league has a core that has not even scratched its prime.

Memphis is here, and with Morant likely to be locked up through 2027, this franchise will be competitive for quite a while. And moving ahead, recently named 2022 NBA Executive of the Year Zach Kleiman is now tasked with some decisions for Memphis to continue on this fast-rising arc.

“There’s definitely a lot to be said about core continuity,” Kleiman recently told Drew Hill of the Daily Memphian. “We are not going to have any issue paying anyone who we want to pay. There is not going to be any issue with retention here. I’m very grateful, and we wouldn’t be in this spot without (Grizzlies owner) Robert [Pera]’s vision and support and commitment on that end. We are not worried about small-market notions or this or that. We are not going to have any issue whatsoever keeping together who we want as we continue to prioritize continuity.”

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There a few names that come to play in regards to "retention." Heading into this offseason, Tyus Jones, Jarrett Culver and Anderson will all be entering unrestricted free agency. The Grizzlies were able to steal Jones and Anderson from their respective teams during their restricted-free-agency summers, but now the question is whether they will retain either of them this offseason.

There should be little to no argument that Jones is the best backup point guard in the NBA. His steady play and care of the ball played a major role in the Grizzlies winning the way they did this season, even when Morant went down with injury. In his exit interview, Jones told reporters that, while he does desire to be a starting point guard, he "loves the organization and playing with this team."

Paying Tyus starter money to back up Morant is like paying for an expensive insurance policy. You may never get your money's worth, but when you need it in an emergency situation, you are sure glad you have it. With Ja's style of play, having Jones on the roster seems like the most valuable potential signing Memphis could have this summer. They could front load the contract to make the money work long-term, and then draft another point guard to be ready by the end of Jones' next deal. 

Anderson, while more likely to return than Culver, has probably played his last game in a Memphis uniform. His veteran presence was important in the playoffs this season, but his inability to shoot leaves Memphis looking for an upgrade. Anderson is a holdover from the Chris Wallace regime, and though he has been a cultural fit in the locker room, it may be time to move on.

Adams, Dillon Brooks and Killian Tillie will all be on expiring deals worth over $30 million combined going into next season, and both Morant and Brandon Clarke are eligibile for their rookie-scale extensions. While Morant will get a max offer the second he is eligible, the decision on Clarke will loom large this summer. Memphis would do well to avoid restricted free agency in 2023 with the springy forward, and should look at a four-year, $50 million dollar extension as the ceiling for him. 

With a pair of first-round picks and enough expiring money and cap space heading into the 2022 NBA Draft, will Memphis make a splash? The free-agent market is not enticing enough for them to sign anyone — especially considering they are going to have to pay Bane soon as well. A reunion with Delon Wright seems to be the best option if Memphis were to lose the Jones sweepstakes. Don't expect the Grizz to put their name in the hat for Zach Lavine this summer either. 

Could Memphis pry Pascal Siakam away from Toronto for a package of Adams, Brooks and three first-round draft picks? Or perhaps Utah is open for business and there is a similar package, plus De'Anthony Melton, for Donovan Mitchell. A simpler upgrade for the Grizz could be Brooks and a pick for Bojan Bogdanovic, a veteran shooting presence Memphis needs. 

The Grizzlies' summer will be unpredictable. On one hand, they could be completely silent, doing nothing crazy and opt to run it back. On the other, they could swing for it, seeing their window open before Morant hits his first max contract.

Another big storyline for them will be the development of Ziaire Williams at NBA Summer League. The previous season, Bane went from a low-usage rookie to a summer-league standout to receiving a Third Team All-NBA vote. Williams is on the Bane plan, and if he were to breakout in a similar way, that is a massive development for the Grizzlies' title aspirations.

No matter what Memphis does this summer, the organization is ahead of schedule. Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane make up one of the most lethal trios in the league, and they are just getting started.

The Grizzlies do not care if you believe in them. They believe in themselves, and are going to be in the thick of it for years to come. 

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