The grit and grind era as we’ve come to know it is dead. The Memphis Grizzlies have had the respect of the league because of that grit, that grind, and their competitive toughness, but their slow-paced, defensive-minded identity just isn’t viable in the current landscape of the league.
Free agency has been crucial for two reasons for Memphis — getting Mike Conley on board to re-sign, which it looks like they’ve done, and pursuing other targets that can help them develop a more appealing and versatile offensive identity. Chandler Parsons has agreed to a four-year max contract deal with the Grizzlies, which is exactly the right move to aid the process of rebranding themselves.
Parsons won’t swoop in as some savior sent to single-handedly turn Memphis into an elite offensive team, but he’s exactly the kind of asset they’ve lacked thus far that helps them even consider taking that step. Parsons brings shooting and some creative playmaking abilities that simply haven’t been at their disposal on the wing. The mere fact that Memphis pursued Parsons is a sign that they’re willing and ready to evolve.
The Grizzlies can’t change who they are overnight. They’re still built to go with a two-big set, and while Parsons does bring more flavor, he’s not who you’d call on to play that coveted stretch four. If the Grizzlies are serious about continuing to evolve, they should explore trades for Zach Randolph, who’s entering the last year of his contract.
Again, it’s unclear if Memphis will fully adapt and look to employ more small-ball right away, but the fact is, their offense can’t strive for any kind of increased pace with Randolph on the floor, especially if the idea is to keep him in the starting front court with Marc Gasol. The deal would probably need more fluff, seeing as Randolph turns 35 this month, but his low post scoring ability still has value.
Necessary steps are being taken by Memphis to make themselves relevant again in the high-octane Western Conference. With Conley re-signing and Parsons on board, the Grizzlies should be able to make a push back into the postseason, but in order to become an elite, there’s more work to be done.