Adams joined the Grizzlies last summer in a deal for Jonas Valanciunas. While the impetus for the initial deal appeared to be draft placement – Memphis moved to the draw to pick Ziaire Williams in 10th place, and get a first-round pick in Los Angeles (1-10 defense) didn’t convey when the Lakers blew up – Adams was a great fit in the Grizzlies’ first defense, as the team hit the franchise record with 56 wins.
“Aquaman” (or, “Water Mane”) dropped 10 rebounds per game, and the team was better than 5.1 points per 100 possession when he was on the field. Adams doesn’t shoot a lot, but he’s an effective offensive player by setting up some of the toughest displays in the NBA.
Even as they became title contenders, Memphis steadily built through deals and drafts, dodging free agency deals. Their only signing this summer is bring back point guard Tyus Jones, and they brought in five recruits on draft night. That makes a veteran like Adams all the more valuable, especially when Memphis is loaded with young talent, but not at the center. Jaren Jackson Jr had to miss the game with a broken foot after missing almost the entire 2020-21 season due to injury.
With the cap expected to increase significantly in 2024, keeping the 31-year-old Adams through the end of the season at $12.6 million per year is a very sensible insurance policy for the Grizzlies. Why risk him leaving the agency for free next summer? And if they eventually decide to make a big move, it’s a very tradeable deal. After all, every NBA team needs recovery and bone-crushing performances.