Blue invited to Memphis summer team: What it means

The Grizzlies are taking a shot on Vander Blue. (USA Today)

The Grizzlies are taking a shot on Vander Blue. (USA Today)

Despite going undrafted in last night’s NBA draft, Vander Blue will get his chance at an NBA roster after signing on with the Memphis Grizzlies’ Summer League team. The news was first reported by Chris Vernon via Twitter.

Regardless of opinion on Blue’s decision to forgo his senior season — we had quite a strong one — this is a step in the right direction. True, it was expected, but not everyone gets one of these invitations. It’s an accomplishment in itself and pits him one step closer to fulfilling his dream of making an NBA roster.

And though he’ll be playing for the Grizzlies, he’s not restricted to Memphis in the Summer League. These next few weeks are more or less a tryout for every team Blue plays against, and there’s a chance he latches on with another team if the Grizzlies decide not to keep him for training camp.

Since it’s unknown yet where the Grizzlies will line up Blue in the rotation — he’s a true shooting guard but stands by him claim that he can run the point — we’ll take a look at what Memphis’ roster and guard depth chart looks like to see what kind of chance Blue has of sticking.

Roster (Player, position, 2013-’14 salary)

1. Zach Randolph, PF, $17.8 million
2. Marc Gasol, C, $14.86 million
3. Mike Conley, PG, $7.9 million
4. Tayshaun Prince, SF, $7.3 million
5. Jerryd Bayless, PG, $3.1 million
6. Kosta Koufos, C, $3.0 million
7. Ed Davis, PF, $3.1 million
8. Quincy Pondexter, SF, $2.2 million
9. Tony Wroten, PG, $1.16 million

Free agents

1. Austin Daye ($4.1 million qualifying offer)
2. Tony Allen (unrestricted free agent)
3. Dexter Pittman (unrestricted free agent)
4. Keyon Dooling (unrestricted free agent)
5. Donte Greene ($1.0 million team option)
6. Chris Johnson (unrestricted free agent)
7. Jon Leuer ($1.06 million qualifying offer)

Draft picks

1. Jamaal Franklin, SG (41st overall)
2. Janis Timma, SF (60th overall)

Confirmed summer league invites

1. Vander Blue, SG, Marquette
2. Laurence Bowers, PF, Missouri
3. Jack Cooley, PF, Notre Dame

So there’s plenty to break down here, as you can see. First things first, Mike Conley is quickly becoming an elite point guard in the NBA. His playoff series against the Clippers and Thunder (not so much the Spurs) were fantastic and he will enter 2013 as one of the best in the league. Behind him is Tony Wroten, the team’s first-round pick last year (25th overall), who didn’t play much as a rookie but will be expected to carry a larger load. Then there’s combo guard Jerryd Bayless, who Thursday opted in to his $3.1 million option to stay with the Grizzlies. He probably could have picked up a larger, more secure contract elsewhere.

At shooting guard the Grizzlies would love to hang on to Allen, one of the best defenders in the league, and Allen has said himself he’d like to be back in Memphis. Quincy Pondexter (famous for his game-winner against Marquette) would step in as a starter if Allen doesn’t return. Past that the Grizzlies don’t have much depth, but Franklin, who many considered to be a first-round talent, will help. Memphis already has around $60 million in cap space so they don’t have a ton of room, but it’s safe to say they may bring in another shooting guard.

If Allen returns, the Grizzlies would have two point guards, three shooting guards and a combo guard in Bayless. That doesn’t look great on the surface, but cap room will be tight with what Allen will command, so maybe they fill the roster with a minimum contract in Blue.

The Grizzlies open up their summer league on July 13 against the Bulls in Las Vegas.

Shortly after this post, Blue tweeted that he’ll also be joining the Rockets in Orlando for their summer league.


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Categories: Analysis, Offseason


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