The Commercial Appeal

Bayless ready to stay with Griz

Guard expected to exercise option on contract

- By Jason Smith

901-529-2353

It appears that reserve guard Jerryd Bayless intends to return to the Grizzlies next season.

Bayless, who would have been an unrestrict­ed free agent next month, has reportedly elected to exercise a player option in his contract that will pay him $3.1 million next season.

ESPN.com NBA correspond­ent Marc Stein tweeted the news about Bayless on Friday.

Reached Friday, Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien said of Bayless: “He helped us a lot this past season, so we think he’s a very valuable player for us.

“But we don’t have an official word on his situation yet.”

Bayless averaged 8.7 points and 3.3 assists in 80 regular-season games last season. He shot 41.9 percent from the field and his 71 3-pointers ranked second on the team.

The news about Bayless came the day after the team selected 6- 5 shooting guard Jamaal Franklin of San Diego State with the 41st pick of the NBA draft, and traded

veteran forward Darrell Arthur and the 55th pick to Denver for center Kosta Koufos.

With Koufos, the Griz added a player with size and length to work behind Marc Gasol at center. The team lacked size at center after including 7-foot Iranian Hamed Haddadi in a January trade that sent swingman Rudy Gay to Toronto.

“We think we traded a very valuable player for another valuable player, and a guy who can really help us,” Levien said.

Koufos, a 7-footer, averaged career highs of 8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 22.4 minutes. He shot 58 percent from the field.

The 24-year- old recorded 18 points, a career-high 16 rebounds and three blocks in 31 minutes March 15 against the Grizzlies.

Levien said that he was a bit surprised that a player of Koufos’ caliber was available.

Arthur and Koufos were partly swapped for similar reasons.

Griz management didn’t like Arthur’s playing significan­t minutes in the rotation ahead of Ed Davis, whom the Griz received in exchange for Gay. The Nuggets were displeased with Koufos’ starting and logging more minutes than highly paid center JaVale McGee.

Arthur averaged 6.1 points and 2.9 rebounds in 16.4 minutes per game. He had an injury-riddled career with the Griz and didn’t reach his potential on the court last season.

Still, former Griz coach Lionel Hollins preferred Arthur over Davis because of his pick-and-roll defense and versatilit­y. Arthur could play small forward, make midrange shots and was the Grizzlies’ best pick-and-roll defender.

Denver received the draft rights to Joffrey Lauvergne with the 55th pick.

Franklin averaged 17 points and 9.5 rebounds for the Aztecs as a junior and helped them reach the third round of the NCAA tournament before they were upset by Florida Gulf Coast.

“It’s a perfect fit for me … They’re 100 percent going hard the whole way,” Franklin said. “There is no ‘I’ in that team. Everybody plays for one another. That’s what I’m used to at San Diego State.”

Franklin compared himself to Griz veteran Tony Allen in terms of being a physical, in-your-face defender. Franklin acknowledg­ed, too, that he needs to improve his perimeter shooting.

“We think he’s going to add to our grit-and-grind mentality,” Levien said. Franklin was projected to be selected in the first round. The Griz originally believed they would need to purchase a late firstround pick to acquire the rights to Franklin.

But Franklin’s stock continued to drop and he fell to the Griz at 41.

“I just think it was the basketball gods,” Levien said when asked why Franklin fell in the draft. “He’s a winner. He’s tough. We’re fortunate we got a guy we’re very high on.”

Although Franklin is expected to earn a place in the rotation next season, it is unlikely that t heir 60th pick, Janis Timma, will be in a Griz uniform anytime soon. The 6-7 forward from Latvia is expected to remain overseas, with the Griz retaining his rights while monitoring his developmen­t.

Timma will, however, arrive in Memphis on Monday and play for the Grizzlies’ summer league in Las Vegas later this month.

“After that, (the Grizzlies) will decide my future,” Timma said.

 ?? MARK J. TERRILL/ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Guard Jerryd Bayless could have become an unrestrict­ed free agent but instead is expected to exercise a player option in his contract to play for the Grizzlies next season for $3.1M.
MARK J. TERRILL/ASSOCIATED PRESS Guard Jerryd Bayless could have become an unrestrict­ed free agent but instead is expected to exercise a player option in his contract to play for the Grizzlies next season for $3.1M.
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