Chandler Parsons

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Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

DeMarcus Cousins’ agency’s basketball division now led by Joe Dumars, friend of Pelicans vice president

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Clarification: :

It is not clear how many players left with Fegan, but two of ISE’s biggest NBA star clients, DeMarcus Cousins and Ricky Rubio, were signed to Fegan for on-the-court representation. However, those players and others may still be represented by ISE for marketing work, sources said.

 

The Pelicans, long linked to Joe Dumars, have stuck with Dell Demps as general manager.

But New Orleans will maintain a connection to Dumars.

The former Pistons general manager has been named president of the basketball division of Independent Sports & Entertainment, the agency that fired Dan Fegan (and hired Kevin Johnson). ISE represents Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

This could be good news for the Pelicans. Their executive vice president of basketball operations – Mickey Loomis – is a friend of Dumars, a Louisiana native. Dumars, who was quite fond of Cousins while running the Pistons, could help link the two.

The Pelicans went all-in on Cousins when trading for him last season. If he leaves in free agency, they’ll have little left to build a successful team around Anthony Davis.

It’s nice to see Dumars back in basketball, after the disastrous end to his previously strong tenure in Detroit. He has built many relationships that could serve him well in the agent business, though he’ll now be negotiating against general managers who might not be as generous on contracts as he was. In addition to Cousins, ISE’s clients include Chandler Parsons, Ricky Rubio and Rodney Hood. So, this is a fairly powerful position for Dumars.

With Allen Crabbe in Brooklyn, what do the Blazers do now?

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Allen Crabbe is now a member of the Brooklyn Nets, this time for good.

The Portland Trail Blazers traded Crabbe to the team that signed him to a massive four-year, $75 million restricted free agent deal in the summer of 2016. In exchange for Crabbe’s services, the Trail Blazers received Andrew Nicholson, a struggling young big man who Portland will reportedly waive using the stretch provision.

The move gets the Blazers closer to the tax line, shaving off an estimated $43 million off of their luxury tax bill. That’s the primary motivation for this trade of a young, talented 3-point shooter and it sort of begs the question: Just what are the Blazers doing?

To understand the Crabbe trade in context, you have to go back to last summer. Portland was in the hunt for several big name players, including Pau Gasol, Hassan Whiteside, and Chandler Parsons.

Portland, never a big free agent destination, missed out on all three, instead having to panic at the last second. The Nets extended a huge offer sheet to Crabbe on July 7, the same day that Portland agreed to a similarly huge contract with Evan Turner.

With their free agent targets gone, Portland had to do the next best thing: retain talent.

After signing Turner, the Blazers matched Crabbe a few days later. They also signed contracts with Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless, and extended C.J. McCollum. Between Turner, Leonard, Harkless, and McCollum the Blazers have committed $62 million to just four players in 2017-18. That’s after wiping Crabbe’s $19 million off the books.

There’s little doubt President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey has been trying to find trade suitors for Crabbe once he got past the RFA trade moratorium. Likewise, the team seems to have soured on Leonard, coming off of a shoulder injury and who told NBC Sports last season that he didn’t feel fully healthy until the end of winter.

The team was massively disappointing compared to their magical run in 2015-16. Still, there hasn’t been reason to panic in Oregon given that Olshey’s plan with this team since last summer was to swap their assets for a powerful starting lineup.

That plan began to flounder when Crabbe didn’t play up to expectations and when Leonard and Harkless didn’t show continued growth on expectations from seasons past.

Crabbe is an excellent 3-point shooter, but he is also thought of as a potentially great defender. In 2016-17 he looked lost at times on defense, especially when it came to defending top-level players or when he was in weak side situations off the ball. His value plateaued.

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That’s to state nothing of the rest of the team’s performance, specifically by Al-Farouq Aminu. Aminu was vastly important to Portland’s bottom-feeding defense, but he became a liability as a 3-point shooter, allowing teams to help off of the pick-and-roll involving Lillard and McCollum. Turner, never a good fit on paper, didn’t really figure out how to play with the team until he returned from injury later in the season. Rumors around Portland have been that Turner has been favored over Crabbe to remain with the team because of the ball-handling relief he could bring to Lillard and McCollum, a point that is largely moot considering his outrageous salary. Jusuf Nurkic came at the deadline, and was a savior for the team until he fractured his leg late in the year.

Portland’s first cause for concern came during June’s draft. Olshey, flush with three first round draft picks, a burgeoning guard in Crabbe, and several players with deflated trade value, could not find a suitable deal. Olshey had to settle, trading two of his first round picks to move up and take Gonzaga’s Zach Collins as Leonard’s replacement.

That move signaled that Portland’s assets weren’t as valuable as Olshey was hoping they would be. Part of that is due to the performance of the players involved, and part was due to the lower standing of Portland’s draft picks. There’s also something to be said about the NBA’s cap not expanding to the level teams projected, making the salaries of Turner, Crabbe, Leonard, and Harkless less palatable.

This is how we end up with a talented but flawed young player like Crabbe getting moved for a salary dump and a trade kicker that would put them back into the luxury tax if utilized.

No doubt Olshey’s expectation when he matched — which was the right thing to do, by the way — was to use him and his picks in a future deal to return a third or fourth piece to the starting lineup for Portland. But the tone has swung, and now many are suggesting it was commendable that Olshey did not have to include a first round pick in order to offload Crabbe. That is really a head-scratching way to look at things, and a huge swing in expected value.

Portland is in a tough position given that none of their recommended moves from last year seem to have gone their way. Still, Olshey has been a good GM for the Blazers. He spun wheat into gold by trading for Robin Lopez, and grabbed Nurkic, a potential franchise building block center when he’s healthy for a non-championship caliber big man in Mason Plumlee. He locked down Aminu on a descending salary deal. He has done quite a bit.

Portland still has the ability to be a trade partner in deals including Carmelo Anthony, which could net them usable players or potential future assets. But what is getting harder to understand is how Portland is going to get any better outside of the roster they have now given salary considerations, team fit, and ceiling.

Drastic internal development or relenting on either Turner or the Lillard-McCollum backcourt pairing are likely the only two realistic ways the Blazers will be able to make a dent next year. Or perhaps fans in Portland can hope that Olshey will be able to work his magic yet again and turn one of their role players into a playoff spot.

The 2017-18 season has been weird enough as it is. Portland can head south of their competition or finagle their way to the postseason. At this point, neither would surprise me.

Report: Grizzlies signing Tyreke Evans to one-year deal

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The Grizzlies let franchise icon Zach Randolph leave for Sacramento.

They’re trying to soften the blow by already announcing they’ll retire Randolph’s number. Adding another local favorite – Tyreke Evans, who starred at University of Memphis – will also help.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

I bet Evans is getting the $3,290,000 bi-annual exception. The Grizzlies were already hard-capped by paying Ben McLemore $8,000 (!) more than than the taxpayer-midlevel exception.

Evans has spent the last few years toiling in New Orleans and Sacramento. He went from Rookie of the Year to forgotten nearly as quickly as Michael Carter-Williams. A one-year deal could allow Evans to rehab his value and get back on the market.

The Grizzlies can use Evans’ positional versatility with so many questionable perimeter players – from Chandler Parsons (injury) to Tony Allen (free agent) to Andrew Harrison and Wade Baldwin (unproven). Evans can plug in anywhere from small forward to point guard.

Report: Omri Casspi cleared to play basketball; Grizzlies, Clippers among interested teams

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Among the list of players where a number of front office types have looked at them and said “get them out of there and in the right system and they will thrive,” Omri Casspi would be near the top. Which is a strange thing to say about a guy in his eighth NBA season who played for four different teams, but he’s spent the majority of his career in the constantly changing seas of Sacramento, and when he was in Cleveland it was the Byron Scott era. There’s a sense among some that given a chance to be a solid stretch four as part of a rotation, he would be a good fit.

When he went to New Orleans as part of the DeMarcus Cousins trade, that seemed like a potentially good fit. Then 24 minutes into his first game as a Pelican he broke his thumb, and New Orleans waived him because they wanted a shooter who could help them make a playoff push.

Now, Casspi might get another chance, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Those two teams make sense. The Grizzlies are in desperate need of quality perimeter shooting, particularly after having Chandler Parsons tear the meniscus in his left knee, ending his season. The Clippers would likely use him more as a three, where they continue to look for any and all help.

There likely are other options out who could use Casspi — Golden State? Oklahoma City? Milwaukee? — and may get in on the bidding. Hopefully, he chooses a landing spot where he has a real fit, the coach gets his skill set, and he will get some quality run.