2017 NBA free agency grades: Grizzlies re-sign JaMychal Green

Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Memphis Grizzlies are bringing back JaMychal Green for two more years. It isn’t the flashiest move of the summer, but it’s certainly meaningful.

The Memphis Grizzlies finally came to terms with restricted free agent JaMychal Green. The signing brings to an end a summer-long stalemate between the two sides.

Green, who is in his prime at 27 years of age, was hoping to land a significant pay day, before age might begin to rob him of any of his athleticism. The Grizzlies, having extremely limited financial flexibility after committing major money to Chandler Parsons just one year ago, and wielding the power of restricted free agency, were hesitant to offer him a substantial deal.

The final terms of the contract — a two-year, $17 million pact — seem to be something of a compromise. Green will earn decent money, though slightly below the average rate for a starter on a good team. That may be a bit disappointing for a player that’s been chronically under-compensated relative to his peers, but the appeal for him is in the contract’s length. He’ll have a chance to jump back into free agency in just two years time, at age 29.

Green will be unrestricted at that time, and if he continues to progress, should command a sizable offer. Whether or not his next deal is with Memphis remains to be seen, but in the present, he’s a more meaningful piece for the team than his numbers might suggest.

Green started 75 of the team’s games last year, and was the primary reason the Grizzlies have been able to explore a more modern style of play. He’s a rugged interior player with a burgeoning 3-point shot, and enough athleticism to switch onto perimeter players for short bursts — exactly the type of player that functions as a linchpin for small-ball units.

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  • Green was one of only four players in the entire league to average at least seven rebounds per contest and shoot above 37.0 percent on a minimum of one 3-point attempt per game. That may sound like a lot of caveats, but the rest of that list is Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and Pau Gasol — three future Hall-of-Famers.

    Green is never going to be the same caliber of player, but his combination of rebounding and 3-point competence is rare. If he can maintain his shooting efficiency at a higher volume, or up his rebounding to a truly elite mark, then Memphis will have a special player on its hands at a more than reasonable price.

    The more likely outcome is that Green stays about what he is as a useful role player and capable starter who allows for some interesting structural twists on both ends of the floor. That kind of player deserves a more substantial contract than the one the Grizzlies just gave Green. From a purely financial perspective, they deserve some credit. They also did well not to sign Green beyond the probable shelf-life of either Mike Conley or Mark Gasol.

    Green’s value increases in the presence of star-level talent. He’s the kind of player that does the dirty work that allows a team’s best players to shine (a la Tristan Thompson, though in a different role). Memphis was wise to keep him off the books in years they do not have certainty there will be those kind of players on the roster.

    All this to say, the deal was a pretty big win for the Grizzlies. They brought back a starter at a fairly cheap price, did little to get in their own way moving forward, and ensured they’ll have the pieces to continue leaning into a more modern style of play. There are only two ways that Green’s contract ages poorly.

    The first is that he takes a major leap in productivity, and Memphis is left kicking itself for not finding a way to come to an agreement for more years. The second is if Memphis’ stars grow tired of the team’s direction, and unintentionally remind him of his own frustrations with the team from the drawn out process of negotiation, leading to a tumultuous locker room situation. The likelihood of either of those things happening seems small though.

    Next: 2017 NBA free agency tracker - Grades for every deal so far

    Grade: B+