When you looked at some of the moves the Memphis Grizzlies made during free agency last week, you had to check your watch to make sure we hadn’t traveled back in time to 2008. While not exactly a championship-caliber contender, a core group featuring Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala and Kyle Korver would’ve been delirious fun a decade ago.
But this isn’t 2008 anymore, and the organization will most likely buy out, waive, or trade all three before any of them ever puts on a uniform. Still, you’ll have to forgive Grizzlies fans if they’re feeling a little nostalgic these days. It’s a perfectly reasonable response to the existential dread of an uncertain future. Some of that dread stems directly from the slow, painful demise of the Grit-n-Grind era.
In reality, the Grizzlies have been in a soft rebuild for at least the past two seasons. They’ve just been good about creating the illusion that they might still be a playoff team. All that came crumbling down early last season when it quickly became clear that half measures were no longer gonna cut it.
Yet even after trading Marc Gasol at the deadline, the front office failed to get a deal done for Mike Conley, and they only compounded things by floating the idea that they might keep him around to mentor incoming rookie Ja Morant. That turned out to be a short-lived proposition, as they finally worked out a deal to send Conley to the Jazz last month.