By Michael Wallace
Grind City Media
MEMPHIS – What’s next for the Memphis Grizzlies?
Who stays? Who goes?
How will the Grit’N’Grind era continue to evolve?
Those questions and more face the Grizzlies as they embark on an offseason destined for change after their seventh consecutive playoff trip ended in a six-game series loss to the Spurs in the opening round. There’s plenty of optimism moving forward. There’s also clearly something most fans, players, coaches and executives agree on: 43 wins, a No. 7 seed in the playoffs and a first-round exit aren’t good enough.
Over a stretch of 17 weekdays, we’ll dive into our ‘Offseason Outlook’ series that breaks down my personal analysis as to where each player on the Grizzlies’ roster stands, in addition to coach David Fizdale and general manager Chris Wallace, entering a potentially pivotal offseason.
Player: Chandler Parsons, 28
Measurables: 6-10, 230 – 6th NBA Season
2016-17 Stats: 6.2ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.6apg, 33.8FG%, 26.9 3-pt FG%
Status: Due $23.1 million for 2017-18 salary in second season of four-year deal.
The least-productive season of Parsons’ six-year career was due in large part to the fact he played in only 34 games in his first season with the Grizzlies after signing a four-year, $94 million contract in free agency last summer. Issues with both knees limited Parsons to career-lows in games, minutes, points, assists, rebounds and shooting percentage from the field.
Quoting (on) Parsons
Chandler is a very important piece, and we can’t overlook that. We understand what he means to this team and what we need from him. He knows that as well. So to get him healthy is, I think, our number one thing right now, because with him and his abilities, and what we know he can do, we’re a different team.
With a personality as engaging as Parsons’, you simply want to believe in him. You want him to live up to everything envisioned and invested when he inked the richest incoming free-agent contract in franchise history last summer. Parsons scored in double figures seven times this season and offered a few hints of potential while battling through recovery and rehab in both knees. He didn’t forget how to play elite basketball. His body just didn’t allow it this year. The hope internally is that a full offseason for both knees to recover should put Parsons on course to be a full participant when training camp opens in the fall. If so, he can still be the essential third threat Conley and Marc Gasol need to lift Memphis into title contention.
When three consecutive seasons are disrupted by procedures that have now impacted both knees, it’s a challenge to keep hope alive that Parsons will deliver at the All-Star level commiserate with his salary. Getting his body right is one huge obstacle. But Parsons’ teammates have repeatedly alluded to how shaken and fragile his mindset has been this season as he worked his way back from right knee surgery only to be shut down this past March with a torn left knee ligament. Because Parsons, Conley and Gasol will eat up close to 70 percent of the Grizzlies’ 2017-18 salary cap, there isn’t much room, outside of executing a major trade, to considerably upgrade the roster if Parsons can’t get on track soon.
Parsons’ absence from the team after he was shut down in March was attributed by general manager Chris Wallace to rehab sessions with a renowned knee specialist in Los Angeles. But skipping most of the series against the Spurs, then not appearing for media exit interviews, wasn’t a good look. To no fault of his own, Parsons cleared $22 million this season and played in 34 games. He’s got three more lucrative years left on his deal, and his post-recovery future might require a conversion to a stretch power forward from his natural small forward spot. My view? Don’t discount how sensitive that subject is entering the summer, especially as Memphis could be facing frugal free-agency decisions with franchise pillars Zach Randolph and Tony Allen in addition to restricted free agent JaMychal Green.
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.