The Memphis Grizzlies were one of the breakout teams in the NBA during the 2021-22 season. Led by star point guard Ja Morant, the Grizzlies secured the second seed in the Western Conference, and appeared set to go on a deep playoff run as a result.
Unfortunately, Morant suffered an injury to his right knee in the Grizzlies second round series against the Golden State Warriors. Memphis would put up quite a fight with the eventual 2022 champions thanks in large part to their deep roster, but they ended up falling in six games to the Warriors.
The Grizzlies depth is a key piece to their success, but they ended up letting one of their best bench players leave in free agency this offseason, and it could hurt their team moving forward. Here’s the big move the Grizzlies should have made this offseason that could throw a wrench in their plans moving forward as they head into the 2022-23 NBA season.
The 1 move the Memphis Grizzlies needed to make in the 2022 NBA offseason
Re-signing Kyle Anderson
Kyle Anderson turned himself into a very valuable player during his four season stint with the Grizzlies. He can score, rebound, and play solid defense off the bench, and he can fill-in as a starter when you need him to as well. It’s players like Anderson that many teams in the NBA need, but don’t have
Anderson became a very important part of Memphis’ rotation recently, and he even started every game he played in during the 2020-21 season. Anderson isn’t the flashiest player, but you can’t ignore him on offense, and he can hold his own on defense.
Anderson got bumped from his starting role to the bench last season, but he still was an effective player for Memphis. His numbers are nothing special (7.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 44.6 FG%) but he was crucial to the Grizzlies success last season.
With Anderson set to hit free agency, it made sense for the Grizzlies to look into bringing him back for the upcoming season. After all, Anderson was a valuable piece on one of the deepest teams in the NBA, and losing him would significantly weaken a bench that helped them make it as far as they did in the 2022 NBA playoffs.
Instead, Anderson ended up signing a two-year, $18 million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves this offseason, prseumably taking on a similar role to the one he had with Memphis. It’s a tough loss for the Grizzlies, and of the moves they should have made this offseason, re-signing Anderson comes at the top of the list.
For starters, the deal Anderson signed with the Timberwolves is very cheap, especially considering how Anderson is only one season removed from averaging 12.4 points per game in a starting capacity. Anderson may not start for Minnesota every night, but he fits their scheme on both sides of the ball perfectly, and this was one of their best moves of the offseason.
Conversely, allowing Anderson to leave is one of the Grizzlies worst moves of the offseason. A key part of their rotation was allowed to walk out the door on a cheap deal to a rival Western Conference team who appears set to challenge Memphis at the top of the conference. That’s bad business, and anyone can see it.
Of course, it’s worth noting that Memphis was in a bit of a tough spot with Anderson. They signed Morant to a rookie maximum extension that keeps him in Memphis for the next five years and can earn him up to $231 million. That’s a significant chunk of money going to Morant that has forced the Grizzlies to be a bit more conservative with their spending this offseason.
Moves like this have to be made sometimes. However, considering the absolute bargain of a deal Anderson signed with the Timberwolves, it’s hard to believe that Memphis couldn’t have offered something similar. Their lack of pursuit for Anderson allowed him walk straight into Minnesota’s arms.
On the surface, losing Anderson may not seem like a lot, but it’s becoming clearer and clearer that having a deep bench is key to winning a championship in the NBA nowadays. We are coming off a championship series that featured the Warriors and the Boston Celtics, two of the deepest teams in the league. That makes bench players like Anderson a hot commodity.
That’s why not re-signing him is the biggest move Memphis didn’t make this offseason. They had a solid two-way player coming off their bench and putting in good minutes on a nightly basis, and they let him leave for nothing. It’s not the biggest mistake ever, but letting Anderson walk isn’t good business for the Grizzlies, and they will be hoping he can be replaced moving forward.