With only days remaining until the start of the regular season, the Memphis Grizzlies still have 20 players left on their roster.
Just as everyone thought, the team had made some positive headway into trimming the roster down to the maximum of 15 players by waiving Vince Hunter and former Memphis Tiger Chris Crawford on Thursday. But the Grizzlies turned around and immediately signed former Michigan State center Matt Costello and Butler mainstay Kellen Dunham.
It was not a surprise that Hunter or Crawford received the ax. With several players needing to be cut and not many days left to do it, the two most recent signees seemed to be the obvious choices.
What is perplexing is the decision to sign two more players as soon as the cuts were made. Both Costello and Dunham are rookies, which is not the case for Crawford or Hunter, and both are fresh off of all-conference performances to close out their respective college careers. But, Hunter was named a D-League All-Star last season and Crawford has the all-important Memphis connection, so are the two new prospects really bringing that much more to the table?
With guys like Troy Williams, D.J. Stephens, and Wayne Selden showing legit promise in their fight for what’s more than likely coming down to one roster spot, why did the Grizzlies feel the need to bring in two more players right before the deadline? The decision was most likely made with the Grizzlies’ D-League affiliate, the Iowa Energy, in mind. Expect Costello, Denham, and a few of the other guys currently on the roster to be suiting up for the Energy this season.
As for who will and won’t make the roster, your guess is as good as mine.
Stephens extraordinary leaping ability and time with the Tigers has made him a fan favorite in securing that last roster spot. Former Indiana Hoosier Troy Williams has probably been the most impressive of all the fringe guys, and Wayne Selden, Jr. has also looked like a guy who could find his way onto an NBA roster.
At this point, I feel like the Grizzlies have to part ways with Aaron Harrison, despite his guaranteed contract. I personally have never been a fan of his game dating back to his time at Kentucky, but the aforementioned players all seem to just simply provide more value to the Grizzlies if they were to be given the last spot.
Parting ways with the oft-injured, former first round pick Jordan Adams is also an option. There’s a strong, vocal contingent of Memphis fans who still believe this kid could be the answer to all the Grizzlies shooting woes and spacing problems, but other than a few preseason highlights and grainy Vine footage, I have not seen the promise myself. He definitely showed glimpses as a UCLA bruin, but his Grizzly days have been less than stellar.
Vince Carter seems to have earned the trust of David Fisdale and the roster spot that goes along with that. For the time being, expect Grandpa Vince to stick around as a mentor to the younger players, a steadying locker room presence, a proto-assistant coach, and the occasional flashback to the Vinsanity days.
Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, Chandler Parsons, Brandan Wright, Wade Baldwin, Deyonta Davis, JaMychal Green, Troy Daniels, James Ennis, Vince Carter and Jarell Martin all have varying degrees of a secured spot on the final roster. That leaves seven guys fighting for two spots like a souped-up version of the scene in The Dark Knight where the Joker breaks a pool stick in half and makes two guys fight for one spot in his criminal crew.
The front office has some tough decisions to make over the next few days. After witnessing firsthand the injury plague that swept through the Grizzlies’ roster last season, John Hollinger and company know that these bottom-of-the-roster spots cannot be throwaways.