Two days after losing Rudy Gay for at least a month, the Grizzlies are set to sign free-agent small forward Rodney Carney to a 10-day contract, as first reported by the Commercial Appeal.
Carney's local connection will draw attention: I've already seen comments praising the signing on those terms and wondering — with apparent seriousness — when the Grizzlies will finally sign former Tiger Antonio Anderson, and I've seen comments blasting the idea that former Tigers drive ticket sales.
But Carney's collegiate record is pretty much irrelevant to this signing. Carney was simply the best available free agent small forward.
Carney has three viable NBA skills: He's a terrific athlete at 6'7" who can run the floor and finish in transition. He's a decent defender (though not as good on that end as I thought he would be). And he's a viable catch-and-shoot threat from long-distance, making 34% on his career.
That's enough to play in the league, and to help the Grizzlies in the near term, but Carney's limitations are the reason why he's bounced around — most recently with a 25-game stretch for the Golden State Warriors this season — and has only been a 15-minute-a-game player in his career.
Carney should be in uniform for the first five games after the All-Star break and could earn a second 10-day contract after that if the team feels like he's helping them. Barring further roster changes ahead of next week's trade deadline, look for Carney to compete with Xavier Henry and DeMarre Carroll for spot minutes as the fourth-man in a wing rotation led by Tony Allen, Sam Young, and O.J. Mayo.
Carney has no chance at duplicating Rudy Gay's shot creation and will likely fall well short of Gay defensively as well, but his ability to spot up for threes and finish in transition (or on halfcourt alley-oop plays) could make up for a little of the missing offense at that position. Given the situation and the available options, this is a good signing by the Grizzlies.