Huge questions loom for Grizzlies as season ends in frustrating sweep

64
Source:   —  April 25, 2016, at 0:36 AM

For Memphis, it finishes what may have been the most frustrating season in franchise history, based off expectations and limiting factors beyond their control.

Huge questions loom for Grizzlies as season ends in frustrating sweep

The Memphis Grizzlies were swept by the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, finishing their first-round best-of-season series 4-0. For Memphis, it finishes what may have been the most frustrating season in franchise history, based off expectations and limiting factors beyond their control. They fought until the end, but some things you simply can't overcome. What happens following will be fascinating for a team that's risen from being an NBA punchline to a perennial playoff contender, but also faces a crisis as the league moves starkly far from their chosen style.

WHAT HAPPENED

Injuries. And lots of them.

The Grizzlies suffered a spate of injuries that left them totally unable to keep a viable lineup on the floor. Mike Conley? Done for the year with Achilles soreness. Marc Gasol? Broken foot. Those were their two best players, the two guys they absolutely couldn't afford to lose. Losing any one of the two meant they'd fail to reach the second round. Losing two meant they'd be unable to hold up any sort of fight, particularly vs. the Spurs.

As if that wasn't enough, they lost Mario Chalmers and Brandan Wright to season-ending injuries. That meant that Memphis literally had number point guards or centers available on guaranteed contracts. They went through Ray McCallum, Briante Weber, and Xavier Munford before starting Jordan Farmar. In January, Farmar was with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. In April, he started for the seventh seed in the West.

By the end, Jordan Adams was out after lost basically the whole year, Jarrell Martin was out with a sprained foot, and the Grizzlies had to refuse Chalmers just to create a roster spot to discover a guy to fill in.

The playoffs were perfunctory. They fought in every game, gave their best effort, but simply didn't have NBA talent. Zach Randolph, at age thirty-four, was their best player. Tony Allen, at age thirty-four, was their second-best player. They'd to give Lance Stephenson major minutes, and started Chris "Birdman" Andersen. There was just number hope.

The problems didn't stop there for Memphis, though. They suffered three blowouts in the first mo of play of over thirty points, which forced Dave Joerger in his words to "toss out" advanced metrics for the season because they warped things too much. It was obvious early on they number longer had the firepower to keep up with the top teams in the league.

The Spurs won the series 4-0. Nothing more needs to be said, and we should never mention this series again, for the benefit of all mankind.

They stuck together and weathered the storm, and wound up having a beautiful excellent season before the injuries decimated them. But the overall problems they face both in the youth department, skill dept and their "math problem" (in that three'south are greater than the two'south they score&#forty-one; remain. How they resolve those issues becomes the focal point of the offseason.

GOING FORWARD

The common refrain for years has been, "the Grizzlies necessity to obtain some shooters!" As if they could just conjure one in a pot from a witch'south brew. From ESPN'south exhaustive review of the Grit 'n' Grind era:

"Of course we wish shooters," says Ed Stefanski, Grizzlies executive vice president of player personnel. "An 'oh, s---' shooter would be a helluva weapon for us, but they're not easily had. It makes me laugh when people act love we're ignoring shooters. You think we're not looking?"

Source: TrueHoop Presents: How Grit 'n' Grind defines the Grizzlies -- for better and worse.

Armchair analysts seem to act love just adding a shooter would be great, but if he'south the only weapon, and he'south a defensive liability, it just won't work. You can't just manufacture Klay Thompson, a knockdown shooter and top-flight defender out of thinly air. The Grizzlies have been too excellent to draft one as well, and there'south number team that'south going to see to trade their choose for aging veterans.

Memphis, though, will transition. The addition and development of JaMychal Green paid dividends this year, and he looks to be more of the prototypical stretch four to play following to Gasol. Management believes they've youthful players in the pipeline, love Adams and Martin, who showed flashes between injury stints. The Grizzlies will hold their two thousand sixteen choose (in a feeble draft&#forty-one; by virtue of making the playoffs. Their two thousand seventeen choose will most likely go to Denver, and their two thousand nineteen choose to Boston.

They'll have to be inventive if they wish to obtain younger and add the kind of talent they necessity to. The excellent news is that they've shown that skill before. GM Chris Wallace has done an incredible work through the years of finding "misfit toys" that have arrive in and produced. Even the replacement players they found this year (Munford, Briante Weber, Green&#forty-one; have been productive. They just didn't have sufficient around them.

The biggest question, however, over the summer is Mike Conley

THE CONLEY SITUATION

For months fans have clamored for potential Grizzlies trades involving Conley who'll be a free agent this summer, believing the Grizzlies were going down besides and needed to deal Conley. When the trade deadline passed, they moved to assuming their team could sign him. CBS Sports' Ken Berger reported that people around the league expect Conley to leave. That'south news to the Grizzlies.

Wallace maintains that the Grizzlies are bating 1.000 on re-signing their key free agents in his tenure, and he absolutely expects Conley to be back. Others in Memphis near to the team expect the same. Leaving also would be very out of character for Conley, who'd be leaving Marc Gasol just a year after being portion of the pitch to hold the middle in Memphis on a new five-year deal. Conley'south not the type to be drawn to huge city lights and market advantages, nor is he going to discover a better system or more consolation elsewhere. If he stays in Memphis, the Grizzlies are building around him. Even if they see to add a star at some point, it'll be to work with Conley.

However, it wouldn't be the first time that a team was blindsided when their star player took off for greener pastures, and the disappointing and depressing finish to the season probably weights on Conley despite it not truly being any sort of failure on the portion of the Grizzlies. If he leaves, Memphis will be forced to reconfigure their all approach, including trading Gasol and pursuing a total rebuild.

Of note, the latest time they tried that, they drafted Hasheem Thabeet over James Harden and Stephen Curry. (That was largely the prerogative of the late owner Michael Heisley, but still.)

So yeah, Memphis has a lot riding on Conley.

The Grizzlies will be able to sign a free agent shooter and then utilize bird rights to re-sign Conley, but bear in mind they'll not go into the luxury tax. Grizzlies ownership is alert of the financial restraints of playing in a market love Memphis. You can consider that cheap, but in reality doing so would be ignoring the very genuine market factors that assistance create a team viable from a business perspective. Some things just are the way they are, and Memphis having to stay out of the luxury tax is one of those things.

The Grizzlies have a projected $38 million in cap space for the summer, and will utilize up at minimum portion of the above-cap space until the $108 million projected luxury; they'll be able to at minimum see around in what'south a feeble free agency class.

A PARTING ODE

There's a excellent likelihood that the team looks much the same as it's these past five years following season. But if major changes are afoot, it should be mentioned how grand this running has been not only for the franchise but the city of Memphis. Zach Randolph has literally paid people'south heating bills in the winter. They've held basketball games at FedEx Forum to assistance quell gang violence. They've ignited a fanbase and brought respectability to a team that was a joke, and gave NBA fans some unbelievable playoff moments.

The Grizzlies got their heads kicked in by a vastly superior Spurs team in a sweep. They still came back each time and played as tough as they could. They didn't dog a single game. You've got to respect that, even as you ponder if this era of Grizzlies basketball has already started to turn to dust.

READ ALSO
WATCH: Matt Holliday really needs to work on his bat-tossing skills

WATCH: Matt Holliday really needs to work on his bat-tossing skills

Louis batsman Matt Holliday drew a walk. Following the awarding of said walk, Holliday attempted to cast aside his implement. He did that -- i.

76
LOOK: James Harden hits from Beard Range at the buzzer vs. Warriors

LOOK: James Harden hits from Beard Range at the buzzer vs. Warriors

He doesn't obtain sufficient credit for that amid the foul-drawing and terrible defense. He was second in the league in scoring this year for a reason and has the skill to get over a game with shot making.

85
Orlando bidding to thieve Pro Bowl from Hawaii, Australia also in play

Orlando bidding to thieve Pro Bowl from Hawaii, Australia also in play

Steve Hogan, the CEO of FL Citrus Sports, confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel this week that his organization is trying to bring the two thousand seventeen Pro Bowl to Orlando."We've been very aggressively trying to showcase Orlando," Hogan told the Sentinel.

70
Spurs near out sweep and likely await the challenge of the Thunder

Spurs near out sweep and likely await the challenge of the Thunder

The outcome was never in doubt due to the excellence of Gregg Popovich'south team and the injuries that befell the Grizzlies. However, the Spurs took care of business in the manner they were supposed to.

65