State of the Cap: Memphis Grizzlies

Mon, 06/23/2008 - 9:36am


2008/09 Memphis Grizzlies Payroll: $44 million
2008/09 Estimated Salary Cap: $58 million
Roughly $14 million under cap

[img_assist|nid=1161|title=Rudy Gay|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=451]


The Good:
The Grizzlies didn’t improve their win total of 22 from last season, but let’s give them a break; they were in the toughest division in the NBA and their best player was traded for peanuts. Despite the doom and gloom, there are still some bright spots on this Memphis team.

Take Rudy Gay, for example. Gay defined the term “breakout season” by filling up a box score like few players in the league can; 20.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1.0 block, 46% shooting and a respectable 35% from downtown. Suddenly, the Shane Battier trade looks a lot better. Memphis has found one of their cornerstones and he is still under his rookie contract for two more seasons. If he can prove this year wasn’t a fluke, Gay will be an All-Star very soon.

Although he was surrounded by trade rumors this year, the Grizzlies managed to hang on to Mike Miller and he continued to shoot the lights out. With stellar percentages like 50% from the field and 43% from long range, Miller has solidified himself as one of the best shooters in the game. As a plus, he also averaged a career-high 6.7 rebounds. At $9 million for next season and $9.75 million the year after, Miller earns his contract very well. Even a franchise as inept as Memphis recognizes a good shooter when they see one.

The Bad:
Speaking of inept, how about that Pau Gasol trade! When a deal is so lopsided that other teams in the league publically protest it, you know it must not be good. Sure, they got Kwame Brown’s $9 million expiring contract, but where is the player for your future? The Wolves got Al Jefferson and the Nets got Devin Harris, so where is the player for the Grizzlies’? Javaris Crittenton isn’t even the third best point guard on the team and may not be part of their future plans. The draft pick Memphis got might as well be in the second round and the pick in 2010 probably won’t be much better. There simply wasn’t enough there to warrant trading a player of Pau Gasol’s caliber (unless his brother, Marc Gasol, turns out to be Pau’s clone).

Can we get some lottery love for Memphis one of these years? In 2003, they missed out on LeBron and had to give up their pick. Last year, they had the best chance to land Oden or Durant, but wound up picking fourth. This year, they had a pretty good shot at Beasley or Rose, but they drop a spot to pick five. I think this round of bad luck is due to rotten Karma left over from the Gasol trade.

The bad news doesn’t end there. Darko Milicic is the second highest paid player on the team and his mediocre averages of 7.2 points and 6.1 rebounds don’t quite live up to the monetary expectations. Milicic is owed $14.5 million over the next two years. How does a seven-foot post player only shoot 43.8% from the field? Maybe he can take a page out of Rudy Gay’s book and finally have that breakout season we’ve all been waiting for.

Jason Collins and Brian Cardinal add up to one big wad of wasted cap space. Not that the Grizzlies really need it at this point, but it would be nice not having to pay $12.5 million to those two so they can wait at the end of the bench for their garbage minutes. The team will also owe Cardinal $6.75 million after next season. Yikes.

The Future:
One positive about the Gasol trade was that it definitely opened up a lot of salary cap space for the Grizzlies. The question is, will they use it? All that cap space doesn’t mean diddly if it’s not used to sign better players. That doesn’t mean you go out and overpay for someone like Antawn Jamison. The money must be used wisely. Look no further than Brian Cardinal for a lesson in poor spending.

There is hope here. Gay and Miller are an excellent 2-3 scoring combo. With Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, and Juan Carlos Navarro, the Grizzlies are loaded with young point guards. One of them should rise to the top and be the clear starter. The biggest need for Memphis lies in the post. The crop of free-agent big men will probably be light this summer, so the team will look to the draft for help. Unfortunately for Grizzlies fans the team appears to be targeting Kevin Love with the 5th overall selection. And while Love should be an instant contributor, his upside is questionable, and taking him at five is an enormous reach.

Free Throw:
During the first eight years of the franchise, they never won more than 28 games. Over the next three seasons, they won between 45 and 50 games. Then, in the past two seasons, they won just 22 each time. There is no steady rise or slow decline for the Grizzles, it’s boom or bust.

Grade: B

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Registered User
Joined: 06/23/2008
Posts: 6
Points: 2
The Grizzlies suck look for

The Grizzlies suck look for another 22 win season lol...

Mr.Creative's picture
Registered User
Joined: 06/29/2008
Posts: 62
Points: 10

With that amount under the cap, I wonder what they might be attempting to do? Perhaps making a run to bring one of the great players who will become free agents in the next off-season. Hopefully, they can make something happen and make a run at getting into the postseason sometime in the future. Ha ha. I gotta say, that's a large sum of money....what are they gonna do with it?

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