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NBA PM: What’s Next for the Grizzlies?

This will be a big summer for the Grizzlies. Can they keep their core in place? … Dirk Nowitzki “not going anywhere,” says Donnie Nelson

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Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy talks with CineSport’s Noah Coslov about the latest NBA rumors, including the future of Mark Jackson, Kyle Lowry and Lance Stephenson.

What’s Next for the Grizzlies?

The Memphis Grizzlies had a relatively disappointing season, losing in the first round of the playoffs after advancing to the Western Conference Finals in their 2012-13 campaign.

Memphis played very well in the second half of this year, which allowed them to make the playoffs as the West’s seventh seed despite getting off to a slow start this season. However, the Oklahoma City Thunder eliminated the Grizzlies over the weekend, after a hard fought seven-game series.

Now that Memphis’ offseason is here, what’s next for the team?

Next year’s Grizzlies team could look different, with a number of key players hitting free agency this summer. Zach Randolph has an early termination option in his contract that will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent. Ed Davis will be a restricted free agent once Memphis extends a $4,361,788 qualifying offer. Role players such as Mike Miller, Beno Udrih and James Johnson will be unrestricted free agents as well.

IN RELATED: Memphis Grizzlies Salary Cap Information

Randolph, who will be 33 years old in July, will likely want to sign a new long-term deal. That means he’ll opt out of the final year of his contract, turning down $16,973,333 in the 2014-15 season for a chance to lock in what is likely the last big payday of his career.

Randolph has played extremely well during his five-year stint in Memphis, making the All-Star team twice and helping the Grizzlies become a competitive team in the West. Randolph and Marc Gasol formed one of the best frontcourts in the NBA, which is a big reason why no team wanted to run into Memphis in the postseason. Randolph averaged 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds this season, while shooting 46.7 percent from the field, but his season came to a frustrating end as he was suspended for Game 7 against the Thunder after punching Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams in Game 6.

The veteran power forward will likely attract interest from a number of teams this summer, but he has made it clear that he wants to re-sign with the Grizzlies and finish his career in Memphis. Throughout the season, he said on a number of occasions that he wants to retire with the organization and he reiterated that once the Grizzlies were eliminated from the playoffs.

”This is where I want to be at,” Randolph told Yahoo! Sports. ”This is home for me. My kids go to school here. I bought a house, so Memphis is home. I’m not 21. I’m 32. But I’m still in my prime the way I play.”

”He knows he’s loved,” Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger said. ”He knows he’s wanted here. We have a good relationship. A really, really good relationship. He was not difficult for me to coach at all. I really enjoyed coaching him. We’re really on the same page, so I hope we can continue that.”

Randolph’s teammates are hopeful that the big man will be back in Memphis next season. This is a close-knit group that feels like they can compete with any team in the league when they’re at full strength.

“He knows how I feel about him,” Marc Gasol told Fox Sports. “He knows how many battles we’ve been through. But at the end of the day, it’s his life. He has to do what he has to do. I haven’t talked to him about it. I just assume he’s going to be here.”

“He’s part of the reason why I came here,” Tony Allen said. “I don’t want him to go nowhere, but I’m pretty sure he left his mark. I’m pretty sure things will get done. Great brother to have in the locker room. He’s our leader and I wouldn’t want him to go anywhere.”

IN RELATED: The 2014 Free Agent List

Joeger, Allen and Gasol all said that they would help recruit Randolph, but that may not be necessary since he seems happy in Memphis. At the end of the day, this will come down to money, but Randolph even admitted that it’s “possible” he’d take a Tim Duncan-type pay cut to re-sign with the team.

While it seems likely that Randolph will stay in Memphis, Davis’ future with the Grizzlies is up in the air. If Memphis brings Randolph back, they may be priced out of keeping Davis. As ESPN’s Marc Stein recently wrote, Davis and his agent Rob Pelinka should “be able to generate an offer sheet in free agency that comes in higher than Memphis was hoping to spend on the 24-year-old.” The Grizzlies can’t afford to spend a ton of money on a backup big man, so while they would love to keep Davis and do have the option to match any contract he receives, his offer sheet may be too big for Memphis to keep him. This isn’t an organization that can afford to spend a ton of money and be in the luxury tax.

As far as the future of Miller, Udrih and Johnson, it seems that re-signing Miller is the biggest priority of the three. The 34-year-old sharpshooter, who signed with the Grizzlies last offseason, gave Memphis a three-point threat who stretched the floor. He was a significant contributor this season, playing in every game and averaging 20+ minutes. He averaged 7.1 points, hitting 48.1 percent of his shots from the field and 45.9 percent of his three-pointers. There was the chance that Miller could retire after this season, but now it sounds like the 14-year veteran wants to continue his playing career.

”I do know after going through this year and the way I feel, I’ve got a lot of good basketball left,” Miller told Yahoo! Sports. ”So it’s going to be a decision I’m going to have to make to see how long I’m going to play.”

Miller signed for the veteran’s minimum last summer, but the Grizzlies had a lot of competition for his services. A lot of contenders reached out to Miller’s camp and tried to bring in the three-point specialist on a minimum deal, and the same thing will likely happen this summer. However, Miller did say that he believes Memphis could contend next season if the same nucleus is back, suggesting that he may remain with the Grizzlies for another year.

IN RELATED: Will Kyle Lowry Re-Sign With Toronto?

Udrih and Johnson could also be back with the Grizzlies, but those are two players who are easier to replace should they decide to leave. Both players signed with Memphis after the start of the season, with Udrih joining the team in February after being bought out by the New York Knicks and Johnson joining in December after being signed from the NBA Development League.

In addition to having some free agency options, the Grizzlies will have the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. This will be an important summer for Memphis and they’re certainly a team to keep an eye on over the next few months.

Free-Agent-To-Be Nowitzki “Not Going Anywhere”

This offseason, Dirk Nowitzki will become an unrestricted free agent, but it sounds like the 35-year-old will remain with the Dallas Mavericks – the only team he has played with throughout his 16-year career.

“Obviously, you know, Dirk’s not going anywhere,” Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson told Mavs.com. “He’s built this franchise and he’s been with us since Day 1. Certainly, there’s a negotiation that’s going to take place, but he loves this city and he wants to call it his home. We certainly reciprocate those feelings, and our hope is that we’ll get something done that’s not only in Dirk’s best interest but also affects the flexibility of the future of the Mavericks.”

IN RELATED: Dallas Mavericks Salary Cap Information

Nowitzki has talked about how he doesn’t want to compete for the eighth seed at this point in his career, as Dallas did this season, and how he wants to be on a championship contender. However, when discussing his upcoming free agency several months ago, he made it clear that he wants to remain in Dallas.

“Well, I think the first time I was a free agent was in 2010,” Nowitzki told NBA.com earlier this season. “Other than that, I always extended early. I didn’t even like it. I hated the unknown. Even listening to other teams, I just wasn’t interested. I wanted to be here. My heart’s here. I’ve been here for 16 years now. My family’s here, friends. I’d love to retire here. I think everybody knows that. So hopefully we compete my last couple of years, make the playoffs every year. I think that’s important. And just compete at the highest level. And then, slowly, riding into the sunset. It’s been a great ride here. I can’t even imagine wearing a different uniform. I don’t want to live in a different city. I can’t even imagine it.”

This season, Nowitzki averaged 21.7 points and 6.2 rebounds, while recording a 23.68 efficiency rating (12th-best in the NBA). Despite his age, Nowitzki remains a top player in the league and he’s just the sixth player in NBA history to score 26,000 points with one franchise, joining Karl Malone (Utah Jazz), Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls), Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets) and John Havlicek (Boston Celtics).

The Mavericks added nine new players last offseason, including key pieces like Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon. Now, this will be another big offseason for Dallas. The team has just $28,267,575 in guaranteed commitments for next season, so they can definitely be players in free agency this summer, especially if Nowitzki decides to take a pay cut as he has suggested in the past. The Mavs have rarely been mentioned as a possible suitor for top free agents like Carmelo Anthony and Luol Deng, but don’t be surprised if they’re in the mix for those players as they try to build a contender before Nowitzki’s Hall of Fame career comes to an end.

Five Things to Read

Here are five articles from Basketball Insiders that you have to check out this afternoon:

Should the Chicago Bulls Sell off Tom Thibodeau?

Best Duo of the Postseason?

Predicting the Second-Round of the Playoffs

Is This the End for Mark Jackson in Golden State?

Joakim Noah Recruiting Carmelo Anthony to Chicago

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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