Grizzlies offseason preview: Ja Morant's extension, trade market options and more

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Grizzlies offseason preview: Ja Morant's extension, trade market options and more

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Grizzlies offseason preview: Ja Morant's extension, trade market options and more

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The Memphis Grizzlies blew past expectations to finish the season with their best record in franchise history. Ja Morant had an All-NBA caliber season and has claimed his position as one of the best guards in the league. The rest of their core is starting to form behind an All-Defensive season by Jaren Jackson Jr. and a superb shooting season by sophomore Desmond Bane. Memphis is on track to advance past the second round led by their excellent front office and head coach Taylor Jenkins.

The Grizzlies will continue to focus on internal improvement but also could make a significant addition this offseason. They now have a limited window to utilize cap space to pursue a top free agent this offseason or the next. They could also potentially put some of their chips together to acquire someone through trade.

Ja Morant's extension

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Ja Morant has all but locked himself into a signing maximum extension with Memphis this offseason. In all likelihood, the Grizzlies will make him a designated rookie, allowing him to extend for up to five years, currently projected at $185.7 million.

He will probably also receive the 30 percent Rose Rule criteria provisioned in his contract. Although he is likely to earn All-NBA honors this season, he will need to earn them again in 2022-23 to qualify for the higher maximum salary. This would increase his five-year deal to a projected $222.9 million amount.

Morant’s starting salary in 2023-24 is projected at $38.4 million assuming he qualifies for the higher maximum salary. As of now, the Grizzlies would still be able to generate maximum cap space in 2023 if he gets that amount, but more on that in a bit. Dillon Brooks, Steven Adams, De’Anthony Melton, Brandon Clarke, Xavier Tillman, and John Konchar are other players who will become extension-eligible this offseason.

Potential cap space route

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The Grizzlies are entering the 2022 offseason with 14 players, including their two upcoming first-round picks. They are in a position to have significant cap space in either this upcoming offseason or the next. As of now, they’re projected to generate $20 million in cap space, which isn’t quite enough by today’s standards to operate as an under-the-cap team. Unless they reduce their payroll significantly, such as offloading Adams’ $17.9 million salary, they’re more likely to work over the cap.

They would have more spending power as an over-the-cap team since they’d have access to the mid-level exception ($10.3 million), the bi-annual exception ($4 million), and a $4 million trade exception. They’d also have the ability to re-sign their top free agents Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson with their Bird rights. All this, in addition to a weak free-agent class, could encourage the Grizzlies to operate as an over-the-cap team.

As mentioned earlier, the Grizzlies could also have significant cap space in 2023, which currently has a stronger free agency class than 2022. They could generate as much as $37 million in cap space in 2023 even with Morant’s $38.4 million salary factored in. The reason their window of cap space is likely limited to 2022 and 2023 is that Desmond Bane will soon become eligible for a lucrative extension that would kick in for the 2024-25 season.

However, there’s a good chance that a lot of these potential free agents for 2023 come off the board by extending with their current teams this summer. Veteran extensions have been a strong trend over the past two offseasons since the salary cap stalled at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This trend could continue up until the 2025 offseason when the salary cap could significantly increase with a new TV deal presumably kicking in.

Explore the trade market

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Along with potentially pursuing free agents in 2022 or 2023, the Grizzlies will also likely explore the trade market. They will have plenty of mid-sized salaries to put together in a trade such as Brooks and Adams, as well as several future first-round picks and young players on rookie contracts.

The Lakers pick that the Pelicans traded to the Grizzlies did not convey and will instead receive two second-round picks. Despite that, they can still trade up to six first-round picks this summer. They have all their own first-rounders going forward, as well as the Jazz’s 22nd overall selection in this year’s draft, and a Top 4 protected first-round pick from the Warriors in 2024. They could make a strong trade package with a combination of multiple first-round picks and some of their young players on rookie deals.

Even before his poor performance in this year’s playoffs, it seemed like a good possibility that the Grizzlies would look to trade Brooks this offseason. This is largely to elevate Ziaire Williams, who is clearly their guy along with Bane at the wing spots going forward. Brooks will be eligible to extend for up to four years, $61.3 million, but it’s possible he could command more when he becomes a free agent. Memphis also has a history of trading role players ahead of contract years, such as Jonas Valanciunas and Grayson Allen despite their contributions in the 2021 play-in and playoffs.

With their core of Morant, Jackson Jr., Bane, and Williams set, starting center seems to be the position they could upgrade the most. There could be several high-quality centers available for trade this offseason. If Rudy Gobert is out there, the Grizzlies could form one of the league’s best defensive frontcourts pairing him with Jackson Jr. If they want a cheaper option, both in terms of player salary and the price to acquire him, they could pursue players such as Myles Turner and Jakob Poeltl.

2022-23 SALARY SITUATION

Guaranteed salaries: $100,327,760

Non-guaranteed salaries: $2,300,000

Total salary: $102,627,760

Luxury tax space: $46.4 million

Exceptions:

Non-taxpayer Mid-level: $10,349,000

Bi-Annual exception: $4,050,000

Grayson Allen trade exception: $4,054,695 (expires July 7, 2022)

Patrick Beverley trade exception: $1,018,012 (expires July 22, 2022)

Juancho Hernangomez trade exception: $224,469 (expires August 19, 2022)

Jaren Jackson Jr.

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $28,946,605

Remaining salary guaranteed: $104,720,000 through 2025-26

Steven Adams

Steven Adams, Memphis Grizzlies

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $17,926,829

Remaining salary guaranteed: $17,926,829

Additional notes: Adams is extension-eligible starting on July 7, 2022 through June 30, 2023 for up to four years, $96.4 million.

Ja Morant

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $12,119,440

Remaining salary guaranteed: $12,119,440

Additional notes: Morant is eligible to sign a rookie-scale extension through the day before the regular season. A maximum contract for him is projected at five years, $185.7 million, based on a salary cap projection of $128.1 million in 2023-24.

Dillon Brooks

Dillon Brooks - Warriors

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

2022-23 salary: $11,400,000

Remaining salary guaranteed: $11,400,000

Additional notes: Brooks is extension-eligible starting on July 6, 2022 through June 30, 2023 for up to four years, $61.3 million.

De'Anthony Melton

Joe Rondone-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $8,250,000

Remaining salary guaranteed: $9,750,000 through 2023-24

Additional notes: Melton’s $8 million salary for 2023-24 is partially guaranteed for $1.5 million. It becomes fully guaranteed if not waived by July 3, 2023.

He is also extension-eligible starting on July 6, 2022 through the day before the season opener for up to three years, projected at $43 million.

Ziaire Williams

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $4,591,680

Remaining salary guaranteed: $15,534,885 through 2024-25 (assuming team options on last two seasons are picked up)

Brandon Clarke

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $4,343,920

Remaining salary guaranteed: $4,343,920

Additional notes: Clarke is eligible to sign a rookie-scale extension through the day before the regular season.

John Konchar

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $2,300,000

Remaining salary guaranteed: $840,000 through 2023-24

Additional notes: Konchar’s $2.3 million salary is partially guaranteed for $840,000 and becomes fully guaranteed if not waived by July 3, 2022. His $2.4 million salary for 2023-24 is also non-guaranteed and becomes fully guaranteed if not waived July 3, 2023.

He is also extension-eligible starting on July 6, 2022 through the day before the season opener for up to three years, projected at $43 million.

Desmond Bane

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $2,130,240

Remaining salary guaranteed: $5,975,323 through 2023-24 (assuming team option for 2023-24 gets picked up)

Santi Aldama

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $2,094,120

Remaining salary guaranteed: $8,248,851 through 2024-25 (assuming team options on last two seasons are picked up)

Killian Tillie

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $1,901,625

Remaining salary guaranteed: $1,901,625

Xavier Tillman

Christine Tannous-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $1,782,621

Remaining salary guaranteed: $1,782,621 through 2023-24

Additional notes: Tillman has a team option worth $1.9 million in 2023-24.

He is also extension-eligible starting on July 14, 2022 through the day before the season opener for up to three years, projected at $43 million. He could also extend for up to four years, projected at $59 million throughout the season provided the Grizzlies decline his $1.9 million team option for 2023-24.

Tyrell Terry

Jim Cowsert/NBAE via Getty Images)

2022-23 salary: Two-way contract (Year 2)

Remaining salary guaranteed: $0

Kyle Anderson

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Cap hold: $18,880,585

Type of free agent: Bird (unrestricted)

Additional notes: Anderson can still avoid free agency and extend with the Grizzlies by June 30, 2022 for up to four years, $55.6 million.

Tyus Jones

Joe Rondone-USA TODAY Sports

Cap hold: $15,914,943

Type of free agent: Bird (unrestricted)

Additional notes: Jones can still avoid free agency and extend with the Grizzlies by June 30, 2022 for up to four years, $55.6 million.

Jarrett Culver

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Type of free agent: Non Bird (unrestricted)

Additional notes: The Grizzlies cannot re-sign Culver to a starting salary worth more than $8.1 million.

Yves Pons

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Cap hold: $1,616,044

Type of free agent: Non Bird (restricted)

2022 Pick No. 22

2022-23 salary: $2,660,280

Remaining salary guaranteed: $12,903,625 through 2025-26 (assuming team options on last two seasons are picked up)

Additional notes: HoopsHype and ForTheWin’s draft expert Bryan Kalbrosky has Memphis selecting Ryan Rollins with the 22nd overall selection in his most recent mock draft. Kalbrosky also has Jaylin Williams ranked as the 22nd best prospect in his most recent big board.

2022 Pick No. 29

2022-23 salary: $2,180,400

Remaining salary guaranteed: $11,197,721 through 2025-26 (assuming team options on last two seasons are picked up)

Additional notes: HoopsHype and ForTheWin’s draft expert Bryan Kalbrosky has Memphis selecting Jake LaRavia with the 29th overall selection in his most recent mock draft. Kalbrosky also has Wendell Moore Jr. ranked as the 29th best prospect in his most recent big board.

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