By: Ryan Glover (@G_Love24)
In a new first for the Memphis Grizzlies franchise, the team went straight for their own roots with perhaps the best team name in the NBA's Developmental League. What does this club mean to the Mid-South?
In a classic PR move by the Memphis Grizzlies, the team announced on Thursday, the first day of the NBA Finals, what their G-League team name would be for the upcoming 2017-18 season. The team will be called Memphis Hustle. The team will be playing their games at the Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi. The Landers Center capacity is 8,400, and Grizz officials believe in time they will sellout the arena.
The team will be led by long-time Memphis coach, Glynn Cyprien. Cyp has been associated with Memphis all the way back to his days as an assistant coach at the University of Memphis (2010-11) with then head coach Josh Pastner. Cyprien took over the Iowa Energy halfway through the season last year and help build a family environment within the team and the community. Cyp is long known for his hard coaching and tough approach to the game. When he took over last season, he benched ex-Grizzly Troy Williams for some fourth quarters, and brought Wayne Selden off the bench so he could get use to coming off the bench in the NBA. However, I don’t think anyone would expect to see Selden starting and guarding possible MVP winner Kawhi Leonard in the 1st round of the playoffs this past May.
The Memphis Hustle held a fan appreciation day at the Tanger Outlet malls on Saturday for the grand opening of the arena and team. The first 2,000 fans in attendance received a free Hustle T-shirt. Fans had a chance to hear from Head Coach Glynn Cyprien, GM Chris Makris, and Grizzlies President of Business Operations Jason Wexler in a Q&A session. Later in the day the fans had a chance to go inside the Landers Center, and when they got inside they saw current Memphis Grizzlies, Andrew Harrison and Wayne Selden.
With all the uncertainty possibly going on this offseason with the Grizz dealing with free agents Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, the Hustle have been brought to the Mid-South at just the right time. The 901 will never get tired of Memphis Grizzlies basketball, especially come playoff time. The city lights up like the Broadway strip in New York City. However, through the mid-season struggles that seems to happen every year now with the Grizz, the Memphis Hustle can be a bright light inside a dark tunnel. Like everything in life things take time to take off. I don’t expect the Landers Center to be sold out anytime this upcoming season, but with time the city of Memphis, parts of Mississippi and even Arkansas will show their presence in the Hustle.
Updates will be provided throughout the offseason about free agents the Grizz should pursue, and what will happen with ZBo and TA this offseason along with Vince Carter and JaMychal Green. To give you my two cents now, I believe ZBo returns on a 2-year deal worth $24 million a year. Second year will be a player option in my opinion. Tony Allen has dealt with so many nagging injuries the last 3-4 years that I would be hesitant to give him anything more than a one-year contract worth $5 million. I do believe TA and ZBo both have the right to retire a Memphis Grizzlies player, but if the organization decided it’s time to move away from “Grit ‘N Grind” this offseason, I wouldn’t be obsessed to the idea.
I think we can all agree that even though Vince Carter will turn 41 years old on January 26th, he showed us enough last season that he deserves a contract extension. Re-sign Half Man Half Amazing to a one-year deal worth the MLE. Green’s contract is the one we can debate all offseason. First, he’s a restricted free agent. Teams like Philadelphia, Brooklyn and even Minnesota would love to have someone like Green to slide into their power forward position. Green will be looking to cash in on his first mega NBA contract this offseason. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Green get offered $10 million plus per year by some team. Grizz will hope the offers stay between $7-9 million per year, but if it gets to the $11-14 million per year, I would expect Green not to be in a Grizzlies uniform next season.