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The Memphis Grizzlies officially signed center Bismack Biyombo on Thursday. He will join the team on a one-year, $5 million contract, with $1 million guaranteed, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania

More on the contract in a bit. Right now, the pressing issue is whether or not Biyombo can help the Grizzlies get a win. They've started the season on a five-game losing streak, and they're coming off a nightmare game against the Utah Jazz, in which they were outscored 42-19 in the first quarter and trailed by 35 points before halftime.

Memphis cannot expect Biyombo, a 13-year veteran who specializes in rebounding and rim protection, to singlehandedly save the season. Any kind of boost would be nice, though, because the Grizzlies rank:

  • 30th in offense (102.5 points per 100 possessions)
  • 22nd in defense (113.7 points per 100 possessions)
  • 30th in point differential (-11.2 points per 100 possessions)
  • 21st in offensive rebounding percentage (26.3%)
  • 27th in halfcourt offense (84.4 points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning The Glass)
  • 28th in halfcourt defense (101.1 points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning The Glass)

It is not an exaggeration to say that the Grizzlies have been terrible offensively in all of their regular-season games, and the defense has been the bigger problem in their two most recent ones. One of the problems is that their opponents have been shooting the lights out (teams have shot 43.4% from 3-point range against Memphis, the second-highest mark in the league), and there could be some bad luck involved there. But the team has also been severely shorthanded, and, unlike in years past, it has not been able to compensate by getting stops and pushing the pace.

Let's get the list of absences out of the way:

  • Ja Morant, suspended for a second instance of livestreaming with a gun, won't be able to make his season debut until Dec. 19.
  • Steven Adams is out for the season after having knee surgery.
  • Brandon Clarke, who tore his Achilles in early March, remains out indefinitely but could return at some point this season. 
  • Santi Aldama sprained his ankle at practice during the preseason and hasn't played in a regular-season game.
  • Luke Kennard suffered a concussion in the season opener and missed the three games that followed.

Those five, healthy, would probably be a better starting five than the one that the Grizzlies have been using. Kennard is back, though, and Aldama will be soon. The hope is that Kennard will start making his shots (he's 1-for-13 from deep in two games), Aldama will have a breakout season and Biyombo will make a decent Adams impression.

Biyombo is not Adams. He's not the passer that Adams is, he fouls more frequently and his hands have always been an issue. If he were a better offensive player, he wouldn't have been a free agent. The last time a banged-up team picked him up off the scrap heap, though, it worked out well. Biyombo joined the Phoenix Suns on a 10-day contract in January 2022, then earned himself a rest-of-season deal, some playoff minutes and another contract. Memphis should be pleased that he was available.

The job is simple: Protect the paint, set solid screens and hit the glass. The Grizzlies have desperately missed Adams' offensive rebounding, and they need to reestablish themselves as one of the league's most physical teams. Jaren Jackson Jr., the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is more than capable of playing the 5 spot, but he's most dominant when he's roaming, rather than being responsible for boxing out a 7-footer. If nothing else, Biyombo's presence means that Xavier Tillman should no longer have to play 34 minutes, as he did in Memphis' last two losses.

About that contract: It's a bit of a weird one. The Grizzlies already had a full, 15-man roster, but were able to sign Biyombo because Morant is on the suspension list. When the suspension is lifted, it will have to clear a roster spot. As ESPN's Bobby Marks noted, this deal allows Memphis to A) cut Biyombo at that time and only pay him slightly more than they would have on a prorated minimum salary or B) clear a roster spot another way, and potentially use Biyombo's $5 million salary in a trade after Feb. 2. For Biyombo, this could only be a short-term thing, but it could also make him about $2 million more than the veteran minimum.

Sensible deal. Everybody wins! I mean, the Grizzlies literally haven't won anything yet, but you know.

Memphis will visit the Portland Trail Blazers in an In-Season Tournament game on Friday, then host those same Blazers on Sunday.