Editor’s note: This column was written before news broke of a Grizzlies shakeup that reassigns Chris Wallace to a scouting role. J.B. Bickerstaff has also reportedly been fired.
The Grizzlies finished up their season Wednesday night with fireworks. Not actual fireworks, but they sure lit up the scoreboard en route to a 132-117 win over the (mostly resting) Golden State Warriors, wrapping up with a final record of 33-49.
Like the rest of us, the Grizzlies will be watching the playoffs from home, as the offseason is now officially underway. And this is shaping up to be one of the most pivotal offseasons in franchise history.
Of course, we say that about almost every offseason with this team. Why? Because there are always questions about this franchise and where it’s headed. Most of those questions over the past several years have revolved around how long to keep the “Core Four” together and when to rebuild.
But after a roaring 12-5 start to this season, the Grizzlies imploded in December and January, at one point winning just once in a 15-game span. There was the botched trade, the actual trades, the leaked locker room fight . . . actually quite a bit of drama for a team that was really bad.
And that wasn’t the end of the saga either. At the February trade deadline, Memphis detonated their roster, most notably sending Marc Gasol to Toronto and receiving what appeared to be random scraps from the Raptors, Clippers and Hawks. I’ll admit that I had low expectations for the team after that.
But then a funny thing happened. They started winning. They picked up the pace on offense and defense and surprisingly gelled into a competitive team, knocking off playoff powerhouses like Houston, Oklahoma City and Portland.
Even weirder: they manufactured several of these wins (and close losses) with injuries to Mike Conley, Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Avery Bradley and Jonas Valanciunas.
But what, if anything, does it mean for this offseason? There are a TON of questions facing the Grizzlies this offseason. Here are the ones I’ll be watching:
1. Will they convey the pick?
The Grizzlies, Mavs and Pelicans each finished with a 33-49 record. Some weird tie-breaker rule will determine where the Grizz will rank. Currently, ESPN projects that there’s a 82 percent chance they keep their first rounder this year, putting off the conveyance until next season.
The irony here is that we really won’t know if they convey until the NBA Draft Lottery on May 14. There’s a (very low) chance they could catapult into a top-4 pick, which isn’t horrible, and might be enough to pull off a draft-day deal.