Why Memphis Grizzlies should add veterans, subtract Dillon Brooks this offseason

Another Memphis Grizzlies season is over, sooner than many anticipated just a few months ago. The ending was particularly gruesome, with the Lakers dealing the Grizzlies their worst playoff loss in franchise history to take this first-round series in six games. The offseason officially begins with exit interviews at FedExForum Sunday, and there will be more pressure on this front office than it has faced since taking the reins four years ago.

With that in mind, let’s reconvene The Commercial Appeal roundtable so Grizzlies beat writer Damichael Cole and sports columnist Mark Giannotto can break down the biggest questions and storylines facing the franchise moving forward.

Should the Grizzlies re-sign Dillon Brooks?

Giannotto: Only as a last resort. Brooks’ diminishing returns as a shooter became a liability, never more so than in the playoffs when his defense couldn’t supersede the drag his presence had on offense. His decision to call out LeBron James and then avoid answering for his actions over the course of the series also left the whole team in the lurch. Upgrading his spot in the starting lineup is the most straightforward way to help this core make the next step since he’s the team’s only pending free agent.

Cole: The Brooks ship has sailed. I think Memphis should look for other options to upgrade the small forward position by prioritizing a player who can shoot above league average and defend wings. Memphis should only bring Brooks back if other top wing candidates sign elsewhere. His defense is still an asset, but his shooting struggles plagued Memphis far too much to be counted on for the Grizzlies going forward.

Will Desmond Bane command a max contract extension like Ja Morant?

Cole: I don’t know if Desmond Bane will get the max, but he deserves to be one of the highest paid shooting guards in the NBA. Before the season, the Warriors signed Jordan Poole to a 4-year extension reportedly worth $128 million, and Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro got a similar extension worth $130 million. Expect Bane’s camp to use those numbers as a floor, considering he had a more productive season than both of those players.

Giannotto: For the Grizzlies’ financial flexibility in the future, I hope not. But Bane’s evolution as a playmaker, combined with the contracts his contemporaries received in the past year, means the Grizzlies aren’t going to get the discount they did with Jaren Jackson Jr. Bane should be a great backcourt sidekick for Morant for years to come, and here’s hoping he steps into more of a leadership role moving forward. His demeanor suggests he’s built for that.

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How can the Grizzlies improve the roster?

Giannotto: By making the trade they couldn’t pull off at the trade deadline. A sign-and-trade involving Brooks, the expiring contracts of Tyus Jones and Luke Kennard, and the Grizzlies’ two first-round draft picks this year could all potentially be used to add a meaningful starter who can both play defense and consistently hit an open 3-pointer.

Cole: General manger Zach Kleiman had the right idea before the season, but I’m not sure if he was looking in the right place. Shooting was a huge priority last offseason, and that’s why each player the Grizzlies drafted had solid shooting numbers in college. The goal should be to add shooting again, but this time Memphis should pursue proven NBA veterans.

What’s the biggest lesson from this season?

Cole: Experienced and veteran depth is important. Grizzlies players and coach Taylor Jenkins seem to understand that injuries are part of the game, but Memphis struggled to fill the holes. Xavier Tillman Sr. stepped in strong for Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke, but the idea of depending on young forwards like Santi Aldama, Ziaire Williams and David Roddy backfired on Memphis in the postseason.

Giannotto: Don’t carry so many developmental projects on the back end of the roster. Memphis made a mistake stockpiling so many young players who weren’t ready to contribute in a meaningful way, in my opinion. Though it was a tactic to offset the growing salaries of Morant, Bane and Jackson, it became counterproductive when the Grizzlies had nobody of substance to turn to in the playoffs when injuries hit. This team needs more shooting and at least another veteran in the locker room to help guide their stars to another level.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Why Memphis Grizzlies should add veterans, subtract Dillon Brooks

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