by Kevin Lipe
The Grizzlies have made a big splash on the first day of NBA free agency by landing wing Chandler Parsons, formerly of the Dallas Mavericks, on what appears to be a 4-year, $94mm deal. The move was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical and was quickly reported by others.
It's a big day for the Grizzlies. Even with the injury concerns surrounding Parsons—and make no mistake, there are certainly injury concerns—Parsons is the first big-name free agent (who wasn't already in Memphis) ever to choose the Grizzlies, unless you count Darko Milicic, which I do but no one else does. Parsons adds immediate offense to a wing rotation that has needed it desperately for years. I think my preference still would've been for Nic Batum, but I (along with the rest of Grizzlies media) didn't really have Parsons on my radar until the last couple of weeks, when we started to hear rumblings from the Griz that they planned on targeting Parsons.
Is there a chance that Parsons can't stay healthy? Sure. But there's also a chance Gasol and Conley can't stay healthy. Assuming—as ESPN's Marc Stein has reported—that Conley had a part to play in the Grizzlies' recruitment of Parsons, his return seems like a fait accompli at this point, but let's not count those chickens until they hatch.
For the first time ever, the Grizzlies had max cap space while they were also a playoff team, and they made it pay off. It also sounds like new head coach David Fizdale and his associate JB Bickerstaff also played a large role in the Parsons recruitment. Things are starting to trend upward for the Grizzlies in terms of (1) the caliber of player they're starting to be able to sign, starting with Vince Carter and (2) the reputation of their coaching staff among players around the league. As one Griz source pointed out to me, also, Parsons has spent a lot of his career in Houston and Dallas playing against (and finishing lower in the Southwest standings than) Grizzlies teams that went deeper into the playoffs.
Assuming Conley re-signs, the Grizzlies are now in a good position to retool for the future around a new rotation. Even if he doesn't, I guess, at least they finally got a wing who can score. According to reports, Conley is meeting with the Mavericks right now, so we'll see what happens there and report as news happens.