Grizz First Priority In Free Agency? Reke More Havoc Please...
NBA free agency is upon us. Several names have been connected to the Grizzlies as potential targets. Names like Will Barton and Avery Bradley have emerged to the forefront but I for one am in favor of Memphis making their number one target the man that has shown what he can do in a Grizzlies uniform - Tyreke Evans.
This past season had a lot of surprises in store for the Memphis Grizzlies. Probably the most unanticipated of them all, besides the record, was Tyreke Evans. He started the season simply as a catalyst for (at the time) one of the NBA’s best second units, which he called “The Goon Squad.” That changed when franchise floor-general, Mike Conley, went out with a re-aggravated achilles injury.
Former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale wanted more shot creators and the front office got one for him in Tyreke. Dubbed the “changing of the guards” by Grind City Media’s Michael Wallace, they had a press conference with the new signees - Evans, Mario Chalmers, and Ben McLemore. In it, Fizdale was a massive advocate of Tyreke. Even going as far as to compare him to Dwayne Wade. Even when the losses piled up, Tyreke was still putting up outstanding numbers in what he deemed a resurgent season.
Every time Tyreke’s name is brought up, he is often associated with injuries, poor shooting, and being on bad teams. Before he came to Memphis, he had his worst season of his career on record: knee surgery, career lows in points (10.3), minutes (19.7), assists (3.1), field goal percentage (40.5%), and starts (6). Yes, you could excuse all of these statistics because he was injured, but it’s just stunning when you compare these to just this past season. Scoring numbers went up to 19.4 points per game a game. His minutes went up to 30.9 minutes per game. He also shot a career-high 39.9% from three on a career-high 5.5 attempts per game.There was only one thing holding him back from getting a Most Improved Player award - his own team.
We all thought it was hilarious and pathetic when we let Twitter dictate the Tennessee Vols head coaching search, but the front office of the Memphis Grizzlies pretty much did the same thing. They decided to practically remove Tyreke from the line-up following a pregame warm-up before facing the Indiana Pacers in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on January 31, 2018 after intense trade rumors emerged. The trade deadline eventually passed quietly for Tyreke Evans with him still being on the team. Reportedly, the front office couldn’t get the first-round pick they wanted for him. After this entire fiasco, he eventually came back to the team, had a freak collision with Jordan Clarkson, and was subsequently out with a rib injury for another 8 games. He wasn’t back long before he was listed as “Not With Team” for the rest of the season as the Grizzlies front office decided to commit to a “player development” mindset. So much for a “return home.”
Signing a one-year deal to a sports team either means the team signing the player or the player himself isn’t sure about their commitment past that. Such was the case for Tyreke Evans. Over the past off-season, he was featured in a number of interviews and he had a generally similar thing to say. That this would be the first time in years that he would get the chance to be healthy going into a training camp without any restrictions. He was eager to prove himself to the rest of the league. In Layman’s term, he was playing to get a bigger contract. There’s nothing wrong with this philosophy; he played for us and played very well. The front office abandoned a player who fought. Even if he was fighting for himself, at least he was fighting at all.
Our chances of resigning him most likely flew out the window and hit a powerline because of the entire trade deadline situation, but not all hope is lost. Sure, he may attract suitors that take him out of our MLE price range, but there is still the hope that Memphis still has a place in Tyreke’s heart. Grind City Media’s Devin Walker tweeted a video from Tyreke Evans’s personal Instagram story on February 3rd of him pulling up for a three on the Memphis Tigers’ court in the FedEx Forum with the camera panning to an “I Love Memphis” slogan on the basketball goal stanchion as he swished it. Wherever Tyreke lands this summer, it will be interesting to see if he continues his rout of the opposing teams as he did for the Grizzlies.