Wade Baldwin

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Josh Huestis, Brice Johnson, Rashad Vaughn also have team options declined

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Players selected in the first round of the NBA draft who sign within three years are given a contract set by the Collective Bargaining Agreement – two guaranteed seasons followed by two team options. Because the team owners and veteran players who negotiate the CBA are incentivized to keep more money for themselves, rookie-scale contracts are relatively low-paying considering the talent and upside of the players on these deals. Therefore, options on rookie-scale contracts are usually exercised with little fanfare.

Yesterday, was the deadline for 2018-19 options and there were a couple notable exceptions – Jahlil Okafor (76ers, No. 3 pick in 2015, would have earned $6,313,832 in 2018-19) and Mario Hezonja (Magic, No. 5 in 2015, $5,167,231). Wade Baldwin (Grizzlies, No. 18 in 2016, $1,955,160) even had his option declined before the season, in conjunction with being waived. Kevon Looney (Warriors, No. 30 in 2015, $2,227,081) and Chris McCullough (Wizards, No. 29 in 2015, $2,243,326) also had their options declined.

A few other declined options came out later in the night:

Huestis was drafted in 2014 but didn’t sign with the Thunder until 2015 – part of an infamous pre-draft agreement where Huestis agreed to spend his first professional season on a D-League salary with Oklahoma City’s affiliate in exchange for being drafted then signed to a rookie-scale contract the following year. The idea on the Thunder’s part appeared to be that they’d be better off with a lesser prospect in their system for five years than someone on a typical four-year rookie-scale contract. Now, they’re set to cut Huestis loose after just four, anyway.

Johnson goes on the ledger of Doc Rivers draft picks who didn’t work out. After starting his rookie year injured, Johnson hasn’t gained any traction.

The Bucks were reportedly offering a second-round pick just to get another team to take Rashad Vaughn this year. So, it’s no wonder they didn’t guarantee his salary for next season. Don’t draft players for bad reasons.

Grizzlies’ Ben McLemore out 12 weeks after foot surgery

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Ben McLemore‘s two-year, $10.7 million contract with the Grizzlies isn’t off to the best start.

Grizzlies release:

Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace announced that guard Ben McLemore has been diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. The injury occurred when he landed on another player’s foot after driving to the basket during a pick-up game in Los Angeles.

McLemore underwent successful surgery and will be out an estimated 12 weeks. He is expected to make a full recovery.

With the NBA season starting sooner, a 12-week timetable would sideline McLemore the first two weeks of the regular season. This a blow both for him and Memphis, which looks like an unlikely – but potential – playoff team in a stacked Western Conference.

McLemore, who never found his footing with the Kings, had a chance to become the Grizzlies’ starting shooting guard. At least Memphis has plenty of players who can play the position in his absence: Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison, Wayne Selden, Troy Daniels and Wade Baldwin. It gets easier to put one of the combo guards there if Mario Chalmers – who was very good in his last stint with the Grizzlies – is healthy enough to back up Mike Conley at point guard.

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: In addition to Norris Cole, Grizzlies to look at Kendall Marshall, others with Conley out

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Point guard Mike Conley is out for at least six weeks with a fractured vertebrae (although, depending on the vertebrae, maybe he returns sooner). With that Grizzlies’ depth issues become incredibly clear: With Conley on the court Memphis is 19.3 points per 100 possessions better than when he sits. Pair Conley and Marc Gasol on the court together the Grizzlies are +7.9 per 100. Or look at it this way, with Gasol and Conley paired this season the Grizzlies are +81, without them they are -88.

Memphis’ lack of depth is going to be an issue, they will fall back on Wade Baldwin and Andrew Harrison to fill in for now. But they want more depth, and are going to look at free agents (as of Dec. 3 they can apply for a hardship and temporarily add a 16th person to the roster). Norris Cole’s name already came up.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports has more names as well.

With the possibility that the Grizzlies could apply for the exception, creating a 16th roster spot, the Grizzlies plan to start working out free-agent point guards, league sources told The Vertical. Included among the several players expected to visit the Grizzlies for tryouts: Kendall Marshall, Toney Douglas and Will Bynum, league sources told The Vertical.

Other reports say Mario Chalmers, who was playing fairly well for the Grizzlies will before rupturing his Achilles last season, will not be brought in for a workout.

Cole is playing in China but has an NBA opt-out clause. Marshall was just picked up by the Reno Bighorns of the D-League off waivers. None of these answers are very good.

The Grizzlies are 11-7 in the middle of the pack in the West to start the season, but the basketball gods have soured on them and injuries are piling up: Chandler Parsons (bone bruise), Brandon Wright (ankle) and James Ennis (calf strain) have missed games due to injury lately, while Zach Randolph was out Monday due to the death of his mother.

Memphis needs to find a way to keep its head above water for the next six weeks or so and not fall so far out of the playoff race that they can’t find their way back when healthy. That’s easier said than done.

Report: Grizzlies interested in Norris Cole after Mike Conley’s injury

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Where do the Grizzlies turn after Mike Conley suffered a devastating back injury?

Rookies Wade Baldwin and Andrew Harrison are the only other point guards on the roster.

Memphis could be soon eligible to add a 16th player, allowed when at least four players miss three straight games and will continue to miss time. Brandan Wright, Chandler Parsons and James Ennis have already missed more than three straight games. Saturday, the Grizzlies will play their third without Conley.

A potential free agent addition? Norris Cole.

Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders:

https://twitter.com/MikeAScotto/status/803697026861039616

Cole signed in China. It’s unclear whether he has an NBA out.

The Pelicans relied on Cole extensively the last couple years – to their detriment. But the situation in Memphis is so dire – the Grizzlies are getting outscored by 13.8 points per 100 possessions without Conley – Cole might be the answer.

The key is timing. Once once of the their four injured players returns, the Grizzlies would have to drop back to 15 players. So, Cole might not be the solution for the entirety of Conley’s absence (which might limit Cole’s willingness to return stateside).

But Cole could give Memphis a chance to stabilize after Conley’s crushing injury.