Grizzlies must decide Zach Randolph's future first

Kevin C. Cox

The Grizzlies' identity will be up in the air until Zach Randolph decides on his future, but the team should be able to draft a player who fills a roster need.

The Memphis Grizzlies have been grinding along for years, but haven't advanced out of the Western Conference. The frontcourt pairing of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol has been successful, but they were swept in their only conference finals appearance in 2013.

The big question for Memphis is the $16.9 million option Randolph has for the 2014-15 season. The longtime frontcourt mate of Gasol could stick around on that contract for one more year, or he could opt out to work out a long-term extension. His decision will affect the Grizzlies' salary cap for this year and beyond. But the latest rumblings aren't so encouraging for Grizzlies fans. The two sides appear to be at an impasse in extension talks, meaning Randolph may opt out to go elsewhere.

If Randolph sticks around with the core, Memphis is on track for more of the same. The Grizzlies' starting lineup is on the books for another season together and they don't have the cap space or high-end draft pick to make a significant difference this summer.

The assets

Pick: No. 22
Free agents: Beno Udrih, Mike Miller, James Johnson, Ed Davis (RFA), Zach Randolph (player option)
Cap space: $10.9 million

Depth Chart

PG: Mike Conley, Beno Udrih (UFA), Nick Calathes (non-guaranteed)

SG: Courtney Lee, Tony AllenJamaal Franklin

SF: Tayshaun Prince, Quincy Pondexter, Mike Miller (UFA), James Johnson (UFA)

PF: Zach Randolph (player option), Ed Davis (RFA), Jon Leuer

C: Marc Gasol, Kosta Koufos (non-guaranteed)

Team needs

The Grizzlies have a few different areas where they need immediate help. Tayshaun Prince is no longer a serviceable starting small forward and needs to be a role player off the bench at most. Both Beno Udrih and Nick Calathes could return, but Calathes is suspended for a quarter of the year, so backup point guard is a need.

They also need more floor spacing as a team, no matter what position provides it, and if Randolph opts out they'll also be in need of another frontcourt player. Mike Miller was their only regular player in the rotation who shot better than 37 percent from three-point range, and he could be on his way out as an unrestricted free agent.

Targets

James Young, Kyle Anderson and P.J. Hairston all would be picks for the Grizzlies' positional need at both shooting guard and small forward. It's hard to project if those players will be available at No. 22, with Hairston being an intriguing option after his draft stock took a severe hit once North Carolina declined to reinstate him.

If the team looks to address its need at point guard, a player like Shabazz Napier would be the kind of pick the Grizzlies could make. He shot 40 percent from deep while leading UConn to a national title and could be a combo guard off the bench. Napier would be a clean plug-in for Memphis, developing him into a sixth-man type who scores off the bench.

Cleanthony Early and Glenn Robinson III will also likely be in consideration for Memphis. Jarnell Stokes would also be a logical selection, especially if the Grizzlies are preparing for life without Randolph in their frontcourt.

The Grizzlies could make small tweaks and be back in the same position they've become familiar with, or could face a serious identity crisis if Randolph moves on from his stay in Memphis. The 22nd pick isn't ideal, but there are enough prospects deep in the draft that the Grizz should be able to draft a player who genuinely interests them.

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