The Memphis Grizzlies are currently en route to rewriting the franchise’s thin record book of success. With their first-ever trip to the Western Conference Finals, the Grizzlies have surpassed not only their own, but also general expectations. Whether Memphis wins the NBA Finals or falls short in the process, there will be room for improvement for next season. HoopsHabit gives you an exclusive look at what exactly the Grizzlies need to improve on heading into next season.
It would’ve taken a remarkable trade for the Grizzlies to get equal value in return for what they gave up to Toronto in Rudy Gay and while Tayshaun Prince is a nice addition as a role player, he’s not and never will be what Rudy Gay was for Memphis. The Grizzlies need to find a young, starting small forward who can contribute at least half of what Gay did on the offensive side. A player I really like is Thaddeus Young from Philadelphia. I’ve always been a huge supporter of Young and would like to see him in a more expanded role outside of a Sixers’ uniform.
I was a big fan of Marreese Speights and was surprised to see him leave after having what I thought was a pretty good season for Memphis. I’m not entirely sold on Ed Davis, but it won’t matter too much, considering the Grizzlies still have Darrell Arthur. Hamed Haddadi isn’t someone you want to trot out onto the court every night and hope for adequate contributions. The Grizzlies are better off looking at the free-agent market this summer to find solid, role-playing big men to line up behind their two All-Stars. The Grizzlies have three picks in the upcoming 2013 NBA Draft and may look to find some depth there with all three picks coming in the second round.
3) Sign coach Lionel Hollins to a long-term contract extension
Is there a more pressing need for Memphis than to sign Lionel Hollins to a long-term deal? Hollins has made the Grizzlies a relevant team in the Western Conference and they’re now an annual contender in the West. Since taking over as the full-time coach of the Grizzlies in 2009, Hollins is 174-159, making him the winningest coach in team history. Hollins also has 10 wins in the playoffs and has now appeared in the Western Conference Finals without star forward Rudy Gay. There’s no doubting that Hollins is one of the top coaches in the league and deserves to be treated as such when it come to his new contract.
4) Find valuable depth behind Tony Allen
Tony Allen is one of the more versatile shooting guards in the entire league. His ability to shut down top scorers as one of the league’s best perimeter defenders is uncanny in the Western Conference. However, Allen isn’t a top-tier offensive guard and the Grizzlies could benefit from adding a scorer to compliment his defensive talents. Having talented scorers such as O.J. Mayo and Greivis Vasquez leave Memphis via free agency and trade, respectively, left the Grizzlies thin in terms of young scorers in the backcourt behind Mike Conley and Allen. As mentioned before, the Grizzlies could look to fill this need via the draft with their three second-round picks in June’s NBA Draft.
5) Re-Sign O.J. Mayo if he hits the open market
Why not? O.J. Mayo had a pretty good year in Dallas and the Grizzlies are in need of a scoring shooting guard, as previously mentioned. Mayo would now be able to contribute in the role he’s truly capable of; the role he was incapable of producing in while Rudy Gay was on the roster. Mayo would provide great versatility and depth along the Grizzlies bench and further assist Memphis along the way to sustaining their momentum in the aging Western Conference. There’s a middling to high chance that Mayo returns to Dallas if Cuban decides he’s worth second-tier money, but if not, Mayo and the Grizzlies should seriously consider a reunion for 2013 and beyond.