NBA Free Agency 2018: 5 offseason targets for the Memphis Grizzlies

MEMPHIS, TN - OCTOBER 18: Tyreke Evans
MEMPHIS, TN - OCTOBER 18: Tyreke Evans /
1 of 6

Memphis is always blue, but the team hopes something old and a few things new can lead the team back into the postseason.

Elementary students of a certain era were taught everything from geography to the importance of wagon wheel axles by playing the computer game The Oregon Trail. Such a generation also learned the dangers of pushing the oxen at a backbreaking pace and the wastefulness of overhunting. A single man with a rifle can kill as many buffalo, deer, or grizzlies as he so desires, but he can only carry 100 pounds back to camp, and all those carcasses on the plains are something the role-playing game does not deal with in depth. Basketball players and their fans, however, are not given such luxuries to simply move on — the route is often more circular. They must revisit the carcasses, and for the Memphis fam that means looking at all 57 of them square in the eye.

The stench of an injury-riddled season is an awful thing and such prolonged events can be difficult to shake. Then again, this is Memphis and being Memphis requires selling those losses as something else, as some test of the team’s true nature or a shot at redemption. So circling the wagons for a comeback just to scream “don’t call it a comeback!” is where life’s ruts will most likely lead the Memphis Grizzlies.

Despite firing head coach David Fizdale amidst grumblings from its best player Marc Gasol, the organization is not quite ready to shut the door on the Gasol era and its eroding goodwill. He and his $25 million salary will be back for the 2018-19 season, as will Mike Conley’s leadership at the cost of about $30 million, not to mention the quarter million weight in U.S. American dollars of Chandler Parsons, or what’s left of him. Added to this core is an assortment of role players who are not individually terrible but not quite a sum worth adding in terms of their collective talent or the financial cost.

Dillon Brooks and Wayne Selden may still be discovering new levels to their games, and hopefully JaMychal Green stays healthy. Maybe Jarell Martin is still in development. Tyreke Evans and Mario Chalmers are most likely gone. Chalmers is 32 while Evans is perhaps seeking a payday and greener pastures. Waiting in the wings are Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jevon Carter. Jackson, especially, is worth watching — he is, after all, as the fourth pick in this year’s draft and a player with a 7-foot-4 inch wingspan, the future.

If this season does not start well, Gasol could be traded. If this season does not end well, Gasol could pack his own bags. Eventually, even in Memphis, eras do end. For old time’s sake, one hopes he and Conley can conjure up at least one more postseason ride for a basketball idea that was never ready to die.

Following are some thoughts on what positions and players Memphis might be looking to sign.