By Michael Wallace
Grind City Media
MEMPHIS – Welcome to Camp Confidential.
As the Memphis Grizzlies push through a rugged week of training camp heading into Monday’s preseason opener against Orlando at FedExForum, Grind City Media will break down where the roster stands around franchise anchors Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
Let’s start with Wednesday’s look at the guard spots.
Who’s in: Conley, Mario Chalmers, Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore, Wade Baldwin IV, Andrew Harrison, Wayne Selden Jr., Kobi Simmons and Jeremy Morgan
Who’s out: Tony Allen and Troy Daniels
Reason for concern:
The loss of two of the best specialists in the league at their craft won’t be easy to replace, no matter how much optimism surrounds a literal changing of the guard in Memphis. Allen is 35, but was still a second-team All NBA defensive team pick last season and was the heart of Grit and Grind. Daniels’ sweet shooting stroke helped to spark the team’s jump from near the bottom of the NBA to the middle of the pack in three-point shooting last season. Memphis could have brought both back, but instead chose to move on by trading Daniels to Phoenix last week to alleviate a numbers crunch and by declining to re-sign Allen, who accepted the veteran’s minimum from New Orleans.
Cause for confidence:
Second-year coach David Fizdale wanted more versatility, speed and playmakers, and was willing to sacrifice one-dimensional talent. General Manager Chris Wallace and the front-office obliged and swung bargain deals to add McLemore, Evans and Chalmers and increase options beyond second-year projects in Harrison and Baldwin. All three newcomers are either dealing with or coming off significant injury issues. Chalmers, especially, must prove on a partially guaranteed deal he can solidify a roster spot after missing a year to recover from Achilles’ surgery. McLemore is said to be ahead of schedule in his recovery from summer foot surgery but isn’t expected back until sometime in November.
Sentimental values aside, the Grizzlies feel they’ve upgraded at the guard positions and didn’t break the bank or take on long-term contract commitments to do so. If all are right physically, Evans, Chalmers and McLemore are interchangeable with Conley, who solidified his elite-level point guard status late last season and into the playoffs. Conley is determined to pick up where he left off after posting career-best offensive numbers last season, and has the potential weapons around him to become an even more lethal threat in his 11th season in the league.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Michael Wallace are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.