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Rumor: Memphis Grizzlies interested in Avery Bradley and how it affects Will Barton

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One suitor for Will Barton may be off the list.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Memphis Grizzlies are interested in adding Avery Bradley to their team via the Mid-Level Exception.

On the surface, this looks like an interesting addition for a Grizzlies team in need of wing depth, especially a player who could be a potential starter next to Mike Conley and Marc Gasol next year.

Funnily enough, the Grizzlies already had that player though: Tyreke Evans was practically a perfect fit for what Memphis needed last year, and it remains that way this year. Evans averaged 19.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.2 assists on a 45.2/39.9/78.5 triple slash last year, providing a secondary ball handling presence, especially with Conley hurt for most of the year.

If the Grizzlies add Bradley, it’s hard to see how they retain Evans financially, given the contract he signed in the offseason and how it hurts negotiations directly with Memphis.

Evans and Denver Nuggets free agent wing Will Barton are two of the premiere sixth man scorers on the market this offseason. For teams in need of scoring and playmaking off the bench, these are the crown jewels of the free agent crop, given a potential willingness to sign for the MLE from both of them.

Memphis potentially adding Bradley not only takes Evans off the list, but also Barton. It’s hard to know where the former Memphis Tigers star would be interested, but returning to a location where he went to school, was celebrated, and would have an opportunity to start games might hold some serious interest. That goes out the window if Bradley is added, as the Grizzlies don’t have enough cap space to add both players.

Another team rumored to want both Barton and Evans is the Indiana Pacers, via Chris Haynes of ESPN.

No doubt, Chris Haynes is the most plugged-in insider to what Will Barton wants. Haynes broke the news that Barton and the Nuggets were discussing a contract extension back in September. He communicates with Barton frequently and is trusted by Barton’s inner circle, so the Pacers’ rumored interest is likely true.

However, Evans is also a potential target. If both players are seeking a sizable pay day with only one free agent destination to give it to them, it makes it more likely that the Nuggets can retain Barton’s services at a reasonable rate. The Pacers will surely offer both players a reasonable salary, but if they prefer Evans and sign him anyway, that greatly reduces Barton’s free agent possibilities.

Indiana, Memphis, the Sacramento Kings, and the Philadelphia 76ers are the teams I believe will be interested in Barton’s services. If Indiana signs Evans, Memphis signs Bradley, Sacramento balks at a large pay day given their window, and Philly decides to hold their cap space for larger free agents, Denver might be alone in the bidding for Barton.

If that’s the case, I’d expect Barton to return to Denver at around the annual rate of the Mid-Level exception. He’d either serve as Denver’s sixth man or a starter at small forward if everyone’s healthy, and his production on the bench would be greatly appreciated for a Denver team desperate to make the playoffs.

Stay tuned to Denver Stiffs for more free agency and transaction updates this offseason.

Poll

Is Will Barton worth a 4 year, $40 million contract?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    He’s worth way more than that
    (49 votes)
  • 38%
    That’s a good value
    (253 votes)
  • 20%
    I wouldn’t pay a penny more
    (135 votes)
  • 18%
    Less years
    (121 votes)
  • 14%
    Less annual salary
    (97 votes)
655 votes total Vote Now