Monday, December 24, 2007

Time for a Change?

We're a third of the way into the second consecutive season where the Grizzlies have underachieved.

They're painfully close to finishing with the worst record in the league when expectations are that they should be improving with Pau Gasol healthy and a full compliment of up and coming players at every position.

It's probably time for the Grizzlies to make a significant change. In last month's poll, 18 of 32 voters said the Grizzlies should 'wait and see' instead of trading Gasol or even making minor adjustments.

I disagree. The Grizzlies should actively pursue deals with everyone on the table except Rudy Gay and Mike Conley.

The latest rumor has Mike Miller headed to Miami. I'm not sure who from Miami makes sense for the Grizzlies, save Dwayne Wade, but moving Miller probably makes sense for the Grizzlies.

His three point shooting, his ball handing, and his ability to score haven't out weighed Miller's defensive deficiencies and his penchant for passing first and shooting second.

From Miami, the biggest value for the Grizzlies would be an unprotected first round draft pick in next year's draft. Miami is likely to have a lottery pick, and two top picks in the draft would help the Grizzlies fast track their rebuilding process. Besides a draft pick, Udonis Haslem and Ricky Davis' expiring contract are the only two assets that make sense for the Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies shouldn't give up Miller or anyone else unless they get something valuable in return, but at this point the status quo isn't working. With 27 disappointing games already in the books, it's time for a change.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Please Play Conley

Now that it's clear that the Grizzlies are lottery bound this season, I have one request for Coach Iavaroni.

When Mike Conley returns from injury, put him in the game.

Last season was hell, and the one consolation we took from that hellish nightmare was that we drafted a promising young point guard - a point guard with the potential to be great.

Damon Stoudamire has certainly provided some quality minutes at times, but he has been streaky at best, and he's not going to be around when the Grizzlies make the playoffs.

Kyle Lowry is showing potential, but he's not Deron Williams yet, so there is still room for Conley to get 20 minutes minimum per night.

It's time to cut our losses and invest in the future.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Schmap Added to DavidLovesTheGrizzlies

DavidLovesTheGrizzlies.com is all about the user experience.

The folks at Schmap have designed the widget to help add value to site's like this one. Using the Schmap you can check out the Grizzlies' schedule, see game results, and check out Google Map imagery of the stadiums.

DavidLovesTheGrizzlies is helping to test this Schmap, and gather feedback to help make it more useful. So what do you think?

Feel free to post a comment with your feedback or send me an email.

After all, with Andy Dolich resigning and a 5 game losing streak, who would want to comment on the Grizzlies? Is it time of the OJ Mayo sweepstakes?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Trade Pau?!?!?!

After 18 games, Pau Gasol is putting up the worst numbers of his career. There have been rumors that he Grizzlies might shop him for someone who better fits Iavaroni's new system. A writer from Chicago fantasized that the Grizzlies Chicago might reopen discussion with Memphis.

He even suggested that the Bulls might get Gasol for the bargain price of Andres Nocioni and Tyrus Thomas.

However, the Grizzlies can't trade Gasol for one important reason: La Bomba.

The Grizzlies need to keep Gasol to send Juan Carlos Navarro a message that they're committed to his future. Navarro is on his way to the All-Rookie First Team, and is one of the top three point threats in the league. He's also on a one year contract. The Grizzlies can't afford to let him walk next year for nothing.

Also, despite Gasol's numbers I still think he's not easily replaceable. The Grizzlies looked lost as soon as Gasol was removed from the game against Houston for Andre Brown, and he managed to match the best center in the league, Yao Ming, in productivity.

Gasol will never be the defensive presence that the Grizzlies need in the middle, but he has re-dedicated himself to winning with the Grizzlies, so I'm willing to give him and the Grizzlies more than 18 games to pull it together.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Grizzlies Win Two Straight

With the holiday season upon us, and an unsuspected illness, I've been slow to post. That doesn't mean I haven't been keeping tabs on the Grizzlies.

I saw the Grizzlies live at the Fedex forum defeat a depleted Washington Wizards while home for Thanksgiving, and watched the Grizzlies win in an impressive victory against the veteran New Jersey Nets.

Picture from the Fedex Forum:



I expected the Grizzlies to beat the Wizards. The Wizards were without Gilbert Arenas, and I couldn't name any players on the Wizards bench.

The Grizzlies looked great in stretches, and they just had too many weapons for the Wizards. However, they also had lapses. The Grizzlies haven't developed that cut-throat mentality yet, and as a result they allowed Antwan Jamison to score 41 points, and gave Caron Butler some open threes down the stretch.

The Grizzlies made up for it on the road in a game they controlled against the Nets. They led almost the entire game, and when the Nets made their inevitable charge, the Grizzlies showed poise.

Their were still stretches where the Grizzlies let their guard down on defense, but overall they did a better job of compensating instead of sulking.

Kyle Lowry and Juan Carlos Navarro are as good as advertised, and Rudy Gay it looking better everyday despite fouling out against the Nets.

I'm looking forward to the next 5 games as the Grizzlies' schedule lightens up.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Grizzlies Continue Streak of Almost Winning

I watched both the Mavericks and and the Hornets games this weekend.

The Grizzlies kept the game close during both games against much superior teams. The end of the fourth quarter against the Hornets was one of the most entertaining I've seen.

The Grizzlies hit 4 straight three pointers to send the game to overtime, after the Hornets made 100% of their foul shots during the same stretch. Juan Carlos Navarro and Rudy Gay were clutch.

Navarro hit 8 of 9 from 3 during the game and Gay hit the last two threes. However, the Grizzlies just can't manage to finish games. They give themselves a chance. (Navarro had two open threes to tie the game against Dallas before the buzzer sounded.)

The same problems remain: rebounding and interior defense. Chris Paul and Devin Harris easily penetrated the lane, and big men for both the Hornets and Mavericks easily scored around the rim. David West was on fire from 17 feet, and the Grizzlies could not adjust.

The Grizzlies do look better, both more talented and more determined, than last season. However, this season is quickly becoming another lottery dud. All the excitement that was built during the offseason is quickly dwindling as growing pains have slowed quick results. It won't be long before this blog starts speculating about next July.

So what should the Grizzlies' do? They definitely have a nice squad in place, and it seems like Coach Iavaroni is resonating with the players.

There are a few options:

  • Make a Trade
The Grizzlies could go two routes here. Trade Pau Gasol and shake up the entire team, or trade a few complementary players who don't seem to be fitting into the rotation. Stoudamire, Warrick, and Cardinal come to mind. I would prefer the latter strategy.
  • Wait and See
The Grizzlies a young but have nice pieces. The question remains: will winning (rebounding and playing defense as a team) click after the chemistry develops or is there a missing element that needs to be brought in from the outside?

Vote for which strategy you think the Grizzlies should pursue in the sidebar of this blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Grizzlies Lose to Bucks

I just finished watching the Grizzlies loss to the Bucks.

The Grizzlies looked good during stretches. Rudy Gay is still impressive on the offensive end. Both he and Darko Milicic had some solid defensive blocks in the beginning. Milicic was active around the boards too.

I like that Gay and Miller attacked the basket and got to the free throw line. All the Grizzlies shot well from the free throw line, which is a welcome change.

Mike Conley, Damon Stoudemire, and Kyle Lowry each had some impressive stretches. However, none of them were consistently good enough. Miller missed a ton of open threes.

The Grizzlies number one problem was that they didn't go back to Gasol soon enough. Gasol sat for a significant part of the fourth, and even when he was in the game, the Grizzlies didn't give him touches in the post. Marc Iavaroni must demand that the Grizzlies establish Gasol late in the game to open up the shooters. Iavaroni also needs to stick to a shorter rotation so Gasol and Milicic can spend more time on the court.

Also, rebounding and defensive lapses as usual bit the Grizzlies in that ass, and Navarro seems to have left his game in the preseason.

Grizzlies Still Inconsistent After Two Weeks

The Grizzlies had a big win last night over Houston. Thanks to problems with my Comcast service, I only saw the last 8 minutes. During that time, the Grizzlies maintained poise while the Rockets attempted a comeback.

Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol both were aggressive, attacking the basket, and both hit their free throws to give the Grizzlies the win. Darko made some clutch defensive plays, blocking Yao Ming and challenging a Tracy McGrady jumper from the top of the key.

This Grizzlies team looked much better than last year's. They also looked better than last weekend. The Grizzlies had a tough early schedule, but they didn't look good in a game against the terrible Trailblazers.

Hopefully, they'll maintain the momentum tonight when they play a beatable Bucks team.

The biggest disappointment so far in my mind has been the bench. Swift, Navarro, Warrick, Jacobson, and Conley haven't provided much consistent play. Luckily, Rudy Gay is developing into a star.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pictures From the Grizzlies Opening Night Vs the Spurs

The Grizzlies maintained their opening game losing streak against the World Champion Spurs on Halloween.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the game, but I like what I heard from friends and saw from the box score.

My buddy Curt was nice enough to provide some photos. Check em out below. If you attended or watched the game, post a comment with your thoughts.

If you have additional pictures, email me at david@davidlovesthegrizzlies.com.









Sunday, October 28, 2007

Conclusions from the Grizzlies' Preseason

There are three stories that have emerged from the preseason.

  1. Rudy Gay has improved.
  2. The point guard rotation is a work in progress.
  3. The Grizzlies are still inconsistent.
1. Rudy Gay has improved.

Gay has been impressive in his preseason play. He's led the team in scoring, but has also contributed assists, rebounds, blocks, steals, and three point shooting.

He's still not even the fourth best three point shooter on the team, but he's come a long way from the player that would make Fratello cringe every time he took a shot that wasn't a dunk.

The emergence of Gay is key for the the Grizzlies development. If Gay turns out to be a flop, that sets the Grizzlies back another couple of years. However, it looks like Gay may be almost ready to take on the role of the Grizzlies' number 2 guy.

More than any other player (save Gasol), Gay has the all the characteristics (ie skill, size, athleticism) to be dominant. Mike Miller is not quite dynamic enough to be a great number two player, but Miller will excel as the Grizzlies' third option. Gay has the all around game to be Gasol's number two, and he appears to be on his way.

2. The point guard rotation is a work in progress

Coach Iavaroni has all but decided that Damon Stoudemire will start with Kyle Lowry coming off the bench and Conley filling in where he can. However, the only certainty is that the point guard rotation is a work in progress. Though reports suggest Stoudemire has improved upon last season, he's bound to have nights where his body doesn't respond as well as the Grizzlies need.

I wouldn't bee surprised if Stoudemire isn't starting by December. Lowry is being touted as a defensive specialist a la Earl Watson. However, at this point I think Watson comparisons are sand-bagging Lowry's potential.

I'd also bet that once reality sets in and Iavaroni realizes the Grizzlies aren't going to win 50 games, he opts to give Conly more experience at the point.

3. The Grizzlies are still inconsistent.

The Grizzlies still rely too heavily on offensive weapons. As a result, there are huge swings.

One day the Grizzlies are dominant, the next they're being destroyed by a mediocre Pacers team. The Grizzlies' swings aren't daily either. The Grizzlies can be a completely different team from one quarter to the next.

The steady areas of basketball that teams rely on during times of adversity, free throw shooting, defense, and rebounding, are still the Grizzlies' worst areas.

The Grizzlies are young and most are new to one another, so there's hope that they can develop these areas, but the preseason demonstrated that the Grizzlies' weaknesses haven't yet been overcome or even masked by Iavaroni's new system.

I'm excited to see how it comes together during the first 10 games of the season...

Unfortunately, I won't be able to catch the first game on League Pass, but if any one is able to attend and get a photo, please email me, and I'll post them to this blog.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Gasol Injured with Ankle Sprain

Gasol sprained his ankle in last Tuesday's loss to Indiana and will miss at least two more pre-season games. What does this mean?

Realistically, it means Iavaroni gets to experiment with other players in Gasol's position. There are quite a few power forward / centers on the Grizzlies that deserve some playing time. Some of them will have to sit, when the season kicks off, and it will be interesting to see which those are.

My rotation is Gasol, Mililcic, Warrick, Swift, Cardinal, Brown, in that order.

Also, Gasol's injury brings back bitter memories of last year's broken foot. Hopefully, by giving Gasol extra rest, he won't be prone to more long term injuries.

Finally, what strikes me as most interesting about these preseason games is how much I care. I don't like to see the Grizzlies lose even when when the objective is not winning but preparing for the season. Maybe I'm insecure because I'm loyal to a small market team. Maybe I'm grasping at any bit of hope after painfully enduring last season, where the Grizzlies were the worst team in the league and had the worst record in Memphis history. Perhaps there are too many unknowns for me to understand how good the Grizzlies are, so I'm frustrated by the anticipation.

Whatever the motive, I still get pissed when I see the Grizzlies down by 20 to a Pacers team that, on paper, looks inferior. I want to Grizzlies to enter the season with momentum, and send a message to the league that they won't be repeating last year's performance.

Unfortunately, reason dictates that Iavaroni remain cautious with Gasol and prioritize teaching and evaluating over dominating opponents. I guess I will have to wait for two weeks to find out how the Grizzlies truly stack up against the rest of the league...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Brian Cardinal and Stromile Swift

No two players personify Grizzlies fans' frustrations more than Brian Cardinal and Stromile Swift.

Cardinal reminds us of Jerry West's miss calculations, Drew Gooden and the countless veterans who were good enough to mask the Grizzlies' deficiencies but too old to win a playoff game or inject some excitement into the fan base.

He also reminds us of the injuries that have stunted the Grizzlies' growth. Pau Gasol's and Damon Stoudemire's injuries had the biggest impacts on the team, but no Grizzly (well, other than Bryant Reeves and Michael Dickerson) has missed more games due to injury than Brian Cardinal. In each of his three seasons, Cardinal played in 56, 38, and 28 games. Even when he has played, he's been hampered by injury.

Stromile represents a whole different set of frustrations. He has an athleticism that few players equal, yet at his best, he's never been more than a serviceable back-up big man. Every year it's the same questions: Will this be the year that Swift reaches his potential? Will Swift shake the criticism?

Those questions can be ask of the Grizzlies as a team as well. Every year: Will this be the year the Grizzlies break out? The Grizzlies have had some success. They've made the playoffs 3 of the last four seasons. However, they haven't shaken the label of a young developing team. They haven't been known as winner. Since the Grizzlies moved to Memphis, even when they were old, they were known as a young team with potential.

The Grizzlies need to demonstrate that they can perform at that next level. They are no longer an expansion team. It's no longer about the future.

The same can be said about Cardinal and Swift. If Cardinal matches his best season, and if Swift matches his best 5 game stretch with consistency, the Grizzlies cal reach that next level.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

How Long Will Damon Stoudemire Last?

If you were a sometime All Star who had played in the Western Conference Finals, would you want to spend the twilight of your career training your replacements while losing sixty percent of your games?

You'd probably rather play on a contender at that point. However, the Grizzlies shouldn't trade Stoudemire solely as a favor to him.

The Grizzlies should also do it for selfish reasons. Even if he's 100% healthy, at 34 years old, I'm assuming Stoudemire can't be good for more than a handful of wins. (I hope he proves me wrong.) Those wins - for a team that has no chance of winning a playoff series - aren't worth the cost in Conley's and Lowry's playing time that keeping Stoudemire create.

Stoudemire does add value both on and off the court as a leader. Undoubtedly, he can still perform well enough to make solid contributions and teach the young guard some valuable lessons. However, Conley and Lowry would probably learn more from the extra playing time, and a draft pick would be more valuable to the Grizzlies at this point in their development.

That's why the Grizzlies should trade Stoudemire to a team in Texas for a first round draft pick.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Grizzlies' Training Camp Begins

It's less than a month until the Grizzlies play their first game. Though I usually can't predict how good they'll be, this year their are more unknowns than usual. The team has changed more during this offseason more than any other since the offseason before the Grizzlies' first season in Memphis.

The result is that there is a different attitude coming into camp, and that attitude is overwhelmingly positive.

As a fan, I'm extremely pleased with what the Grizzlies have done. Though they still haven't acquired a bona fide superstar, they've clearly made a commitment to winning.

Michael Heisley is beginning to make up for last year's catastrophe by taking control of the direction of the team. He's dampened the distraction that his desire to sell has caused, and he's committed to a series of moves - the best of which was hiring Marc Iavaroni - that give the impression that he's interested in building a winning team instead of a team that's priced to move.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Grizzlies 2007 Draft Pick Moves from 4 to 3

It's not often that the NBA Draft is reordered 2 months later.

Today, the Grizzlies moved from the number 4 pick to the number 3 pick when number 1 pick Greg Oden announced likely season-ending and potential career-ending microfracture surgery knee surgery.

It's too early to say whether Oden will recover well enough to reach the potential so many predict he will reach. He could still be the next Hakeem Olajuwon. But there's a greater chance today than there was yesterday that he will never be a star.

Checking Wikipedia, I found a list of some NBA stars who did or did not successfully recover from microfracture knee surgery.










RecoveredDid not
Jason KiddPenny Hardaway
John StocktonAllan Houston
Zach RandolphTerrell Brandon
Amare StoudemireJamal Mashburn

Brian Grant

Antonio McDyess

Bob Sura


Most of those players had it much later in their careers than Oden, so we can hope for the best. Although I'm relieved that the Grizzlies aren't dealing with this, I'm sorry for the Trailblazers, the fans, and mostly Oden. I hope we'll get to see him reach his potential someday even if it won't be in a Grizzlies uniform and won't be as soon as we'd hoped.

Lastly, this is another reason teams shouldn't bank on winning the Draft lottery.

VOTING

Only one more day to vote in the poll located on the sidebar for where you think the Grizzlies will finish in next season's standings.

BLOCK PARTIES

The Grizzlies are throwing parties around Memphis to get fans excited about the Grizzlies. If anyone is able to attend, please post a comment about your experience. If you're able to get pictures of any Grizzlies or the event, email them to me, and I'll post them as well. Unfortunately, there is no party in my neighborhood.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Grizzlies Compete in International Competition

Alright, it's been a slow few weeks for Grizzlies new. But I guess that's ok given how active the Grizzlies were in June and July.

The biggest news has been that a few Grizzlies, Pau Gasol, Mike Miller, Darko Milicic and Juan Carlos Navarro, have been representing their countries in international competition.

Gasol is averaging 25 points and 6 rebounds in 25 minutes for Spain who was the national champion last year and has an automatic spot in next summers Olympics. Gasol was MVP of last year's tournament and dominated last year's competition. His statistics this year suggest he's continuing to play well in international competition though I haven't seen him play.

Miller provided mostly backup duty and garbage time for the Americans who dominated limited competition in the American tournament. I saw him play in three games. He hit a few threes, but overall he didn't impress, and is probably the least skilled wing player on the team.

Milicic is averaging 15 points and 9 rebounds in about 35 minutes. He recently lashed out at referees in a profanity laced tirade after a disappointing loss to Israel. Afterwards, the European league fined him and Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace and Coach Marc Iavaroni reprimanded him on the phone. His passion for winning is a great, but there's no excuse for berating the referees. It won't lead to more victories. (It is the responsibility of the NBA, both the Commissioner and the Board of Governors to clean up NBA refereeing.)

Navarro has yet to play because of an injury just before the tournament. I haven't read how the injury will affect his participation in the Grizzlies training camp, less than a month away. Reports didn't indicate that Navarro would miss any time.

Participation in international competition is great for players. Sure, we were screwed by Gasol's injury last season, but we were screwed by a lot more than that. When Charles Barkley played for The Dream Team, he said it rejuvenated him and kept him in shape. The following season was arguably his best. He led his team to the NBA Finals and was awarded the league's MVP.

Players are put in situations where they're at greater risk to injury when they play in a more competitive environment. But they also gain experience and conditioning that can't be replicated in the weight room, through drills, or in pick-up games. Hopefully, the four Grizzlies who participated in international competition will come to training camp better prepared than they would have otherwise.

Don't forget to vote in the poll in this blog's sidebar for where you think the Grizzlies will finish next season.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jerry West's Legacy

Before the Jerry West officially ends, when the first non-West team takes the floor, it's worth revisiting what he did for this franchise.

West may be the best NBA executive of all time. Unfortunately, his stay in Memphis isn't what solidified this position. Still, Jerry West was great for the Grizzlies. Though he didn't win a championship here or even a playoff game, West produced results that make his tenure a success.

In one season, West transformed the Grizzlies from a lottery team into a playoff team. In NBA terms, that amounts to instant results. Additionally, the attention West brought benefited the Grizzlies. West's stay brought national media coverage of Memphis that would've otherwise been focused elsewhere, and he lured players and personnel that would have otherwise laughed off the idea of relocating to Memphis. (Heisley deserves some credit here. After all he not only lured West out of semi-retirement, but has also lured West's successors.)

West's management of the Grizzlies was not without fault. His strategy (much criticized here) of pursuing old veterans produced short term results at the detriment of long term goals. Many of his moves (Drew Gooden, Brian Cardinal) turned out to be complete duds. Others (Eddie Jones, Bobby Jackson, James Posey Bonzi Wells, Damon Stoudemire) at times seemed solid, but quickly fizzled out. He never made a blockbuster acquisition that filled the Fedex Forum or raised the Grizzlies to the next tier.

Still, three playoff appearances in five seasons for a team that had been eliminated from the playoffs in November during every season of its existence is a clear success. The fact that the Grizzlies never won a playoff game is painful for fans and players alike, but many (not all) of the factors were out of West's control (most notably the fucked up seeding that resulted from the league's reorganization into 6 divisions). The fact that the Grizzlies made it to the playoffs were a direct result of West's moves, his best of which, hiring Hubie Brown, had the biggest impact.

Finally, for all of their faults, West's strategies have had one last result that could yet solidify his influence as genius and excuse his final and worst season. That result is to give the Grizzlies the financial flexibility to rebound with relative ease and quickness. Though West has no control over what happens moving forward, if his replacements find a way to get back to the playoffs and win a game within the next two seasons, West can still take credit for putting the pieces in motion to get to that point. However unlikely, if the Grizzlies win a playoff game this season, it will be West's greatest achievement.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Grizzlies Will Finish 18th During 07-08 Season

That's my prediction give or take.

In order guess at the Grizzlies' rank, I've made a guess at whether the Grizzlies are better or worse than each team.

Obviously, injuries and trades will play a part in determining how good each team is. Still, I'm guessing the Grizzlies will finish within a couple of spots of 18. This puts them at 10th in the West, just out of the playoffs.

Last year, New Orleans was the 18th team with a record of 39-44. Michael Heisley has said he expects the Grizzlies to win somewhere in the 30s, so this seems close to his prediction as well.

Below is the complete list. The further above or below the Grizzlies a team is on the list, the better chance the team has of finishing better or worse than the Grizzlies.

For example, the Suns and the Spurs are both almost definitely going to finish above the Grizzlies. Still, San Antonio's chance's are slightly better than the Suns.

Similarly, the Clippers and Charlotte both have a slightly better chance of finishing worse than the Grizzlies than they do finishing ahead of Memphis. I think the Clippers are more likely to finish above the Griz than the Bobcats, so I've ranked them above.

Let me know where you think the Grizzlies will finish by voting in the poll just under the Fedex Forum and posting a comment on this post.

The following teams are:

DEFINITELY BETTER THAN THE GRIZZLIES
San Antonio
Phoenix
Dallas

BETTER THAN THE GRIZZLIES
Chicago
Detroit
Boston
Cleveland
Houston
Utah
Denver

SLIGHTLY BETTER THAN THE GRIZZLIES
Miami
Golden State
LA Lakers
New Jersey
Washington
New Orleans
Toronto

GRIZZLIES

SLIGHTLY WORSE THAN THE GRIZZLIES
LA Clippers
Indiana
Charlotte

WORSE THAN THE GRIZZLIES
New York
Sacramento
Milwaukee

DEFINITELY WORSE THAN THE GRIZZLIES
Atlanta
Seattle
Portland
Philadelphia
Minnesota

Monday, August 20, 2007

Readers Pick Hiring Iavaroni As Top OffSeason Move

Fans who voted in this blog's poll, chose hiring Iavaroni as the Grizzlies' best offseason move.

Hiring Iavaroni beat Signing Darko by 4 votes and Drafting Conley by 5 votes.

Releasing Atkins, Roberts, and Johnson received 5 votes total and Hiring Wallace had no votes.



I personally chose Drafting Conley because I think he has the chance to be a star. He could be the Grizzlies' point guard in ten years, while no coach has lasted longer than 2 years. Still, I think Hiring Iavaroni is a close second.

I found it surprising that readers think Darko has more potential than Conley. Even more surprising is the fact that Hiring Wallace received no votes. He's seemingly played a significant part in both drafting Conley, and negotiating with players and teams to complete this summer's deals. In my eyes, he at least deserves some votes for going after and getting reasonably priced, young players with big upsides.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Blog Readers Split Over Best Grizzlies' Offseason Move

Which of the Grizzlies' offseason moves has helped the team the most?

Readers have been voting in the poll on the sidebar of this site for the past few weeks to answer that question.

Readers are split on whether signing Conley or hiring Iavaroni have had a bigger impact. Conley took the lead by one vote today with 18 out of 53 votes. Many voters also think signing Darko was a great move.

Few have voted for dropping Atkins, Roberts, and Alexander. They all made solid contributions last year. Not one reader has voted for the hiring of Wallace. Jerry West is a tough act to follow, but Wallace or another executive only needs to oversee the winning of the Grizzlies' first playoff game to escape West's long shadow.

The poll was created before the Grizzlies signed Jacobson or Brown or (allegedly) traded for Navarro, so we'll have to guess about how readers feel about those moves.

There are 5 more days to vote, so please feel free to add your choice for the Grizzlies' best offseason moves before the it closes.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Grizzlies Trading for Juan Carlos Navarro

Though not official yet, it seems like the Grizzlies are going to add Spanish guard, Juan Carlos Navarro. Reports from the Commercial Appeal claim the Grizzlies are going to trade a lottery-protected first round draft pick for Gasol's friend.

This confirms what Wallace and Iavaroni have already insisted, that the Grizzlies don't plan on trading Gasol.

While I don't know much about Navarro's game, it seems like he may do more than placate Gasol. He was a top contributor on the World Champion Spanish National Team. He's been a strong three-point shooter, and presumably Gasol and Navarro have strong chemistry together.
This deal is a no-brainer.

However, there are two issues I see. One, the Grizzlies just signed Casey Jacobson as a back-up three-point shooter. Now, it seems like he'll be fourth string shooting guard.

Two, Navarro isn't Kevin Garnett. Trading for Garnett is risky. His contract is huge and he's approaching the end of his career. The Celtics traded a good amount of future insurance for Garnett. Still, The Grizzlies consistently acquire mid-level role players while their peers (Two games separated the Celtics' and Grizzlies' records.) take chances on players who the sports writers say will get them to the finals...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Grizzlies' Lineup Set

This will be my last post for about two weeks as I'll be traveling out of the country. Please continue to post your thoughts about the Grizzlies here.

Before I go, since the Grizzlies have just finalized their lineup with the signing of Casey Jacobson, I thought I'd give a first draft of the depth chart. It looks like the Grizzlies are set with their roster for training camp, and I must say they've done very well given potentially one of the best drafts ever and one of the worst free agent classes.

Every acquisition has potential at little cost.

Point Guard: Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, Damon Stoudemire

Lowry looked more mature and refined during the Summer League games I saw, but Conley definitely has room to take over the starting job.

Shooting Guard: Mike Miller, Tarence Kinsey, Casey Jacobson

Who is gonna play defense? I guess the Grizzlies tried a defensive-minded backup in Dahntay Jones, and it didn't work too well. Jacobson will be able to match Miller's three point shooting and has the potential to be a solid backup.

Small Forward: Rudy Gay

Gay won't play 48 minutes. He'll probably get spelled by Warrick, who I like better in the post, and Miller and Jacobson, who I like better at guard. Gay's a lock for the starting job though.

Power Forward: Pau Gasol, Hakim Warrick, Brian Cardinal, Andre Brown

The MVP of the world will also spend time at center. I wonder if Warrick will improve as much between season 2 and 3 as he did between season 1 and 2. I wonder if Cardinal will play.

Center: Darko Milicic, Stromile Swift

The two Grizzlies centers share something in common: they have never lived up to their expectations. The sun is setting on Swift who is a serviceable big man. Milicic has one more chance to prove he's at least as good as Dino Radja.

This lineup is a definite improvement over last year. Lowry and Conley are upgrades over Atkins and Stoudemire. Jacobson is an upgrade over Jones. Milicic is an upgrade over Tsakaliedis. Warrick, Kinsey, and Gay could be significant upgrades over last year's versions.

This seems like more turnover than the Grizzlies have had during a Memphis offseason (other than the offseason during which they moved), and I'm excited about the youth, as well as the prospect of winning 10 more games than last year.

I think this team has a better chance of beating expectations than any other squad. (Of course, some will remember last season I predicted the Grizzlies would win their first playoff game...)

Grizzlies' Poor Season A Result of Refs 'Fixing' Game

Okay, maybe they were just bad...

One argument that I continually have with my father, who prefers baseball to basketball, is that referees do or do not determine the outcome of games.

I argue that refs, though they influence the game, don't ultimately decide the outcome. Sure, they blow calls. Yes, they interpret rules differently at times. (For example, they call a game close, where every touch is a foul, or they 'let them play'.) But generally, the better team wins, or at least, the team that plays better on a given night wins.

Dad argues that referees are frustrating because they are not a constant. A foul against Alexander Johnson isn't a foul against Shaq. Traveling seems to be called based on time - "How long has it been since Lebron was called for travel? He must be due." During the last play of the game, the same contact that got Greg Oden his 8th foul is a no call. During any play, a foul on Kobe Bryant is incidental contact on anyone else.

In reality it's somewhere in the middle. For the most part, refereeing is a constant during a given game. Different teams perform better given different officiating crews. Great players like Bryant learn how to draw contact (and referees may learn to expect it). Great teams, like San Antonio, learn what works (what they can get away with) and manipulate those learnings to their advantages. Some call it dirty; others call it strategy.

With the recent referee scandal, it's likely, that at least one referee has been using his authority to determine the outcome of games. However, the problem may not end there. Perhaps this is representative of a worse problem, that referees have too much control of the game.

Now would be an ideal time for the league to present solutions to this problem that will lessen (not eliminate) the subjectivity of refereeing. A combination of removing certain guidelines (that are inherently subjective) and explicitly describing others (that could be less subjective) may take some control out of referees' hands. Releasing statistics on the number of fouls called on all players, given the referee, the players involved, etc may go a long way towards demonstrating that referees are more 'accurate' than they're perceived to be.

Of course, any changes made need to done so without diminishing the excitement of the competition. That includes both allowing fans - people without insider knowledge or control of the outcome - to bet when they want to and letting the players play.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Grizzlies Filling Out Roster with Experienced Young Players

So far I've hear the Grizzlies are pursuing Casey Jacobsen, Ime Udoka, and Matt Barnes to fill out their roster with Andre Brown.

I like that the Grizzlies are going after young guys at a low price. Hopefully, these players will be less injury-prone than the older Grizzlies have been and will allow more financial flexibility in the next few off-seasons. I also like that the Grizzlies are leaving their last two spots open. I've never understood why the team has insisted on maintaining 15 players.

I also don't understand why the Grizzlies opted for Brown over Lawrence Roberts or Alexander Johnson. Both Roberts and Johnson were solid end-of-the-bench players. Still, Brown could develop into a better player, and it's hard to fault Wallace and Iavaroni for identifying who fits into the system and acquiring them.

As for the potential swing man the Grizzlies are looking into, Barnes is my favorite, but he's too pricey for what the Grizzlies need so I wouldn't sign him. Jacobson strikes me as one-dimensional, and I don't know anything about Udoka.

Adding any of those three won't make or break the Grizzlies, and regardless, it's been a solid off-season so far.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Grizzlies Sign Andre Who?

The Grizzlies signed Andre Brown. That's all I know.

Does anybody know who this guy is?



Career Season Averages
Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
06-07 SEA 38 0 7.1 0.568 0.000 0.600 0.7 1.3 1.9 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.76 0.70 2.4

Born: May 12, 1981
Height: 6-9 / 2,06
Weight: 245 lbs. / 111,1 kg.
College : DePaul
Years Pro: 1


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pictures from the Grizzlies' Summer League

Here are some pics from the Grizzlies warm-up before the last summer league game vs the Wolves. Thanks to Evan for the photos.

Also, be sure to vote in our latest poll on the right column under the Fedex Forum.

Here's rookie Mike Conley practicing his lay-ups:



Here's Rudy Gay and Kevin McHale. Can you spot him?



Here's Conley practicing his free throws. According to yesterday's press conference, Rudy Gay lost to Darko Milicic in a free throw shooting contest.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Back from Vegas

Two of my friends and I attended Saturday's loss against the Timberwolves.

The Grizzlies looked lackluster and over-powered during the first three quarters. They looked like they needed Alexander Johnson. Without access to the internet, I hadn't realized he was released. (I'll be interested to see who we pick up to replace him. Seemed like a bargain to me, but I guess there are better players...)

Here's my report:

1. I'd like to get an exclusive interview with Mike Conley.
Didn't get the exclusive interview, but I enjoyed my first glimpse of his play. He can get to the lane and finish better than any Grizzly guard or wingman.

2. I'd like to meet Chris Wallace and Marc Iavaroni.
I saw Iavaroni from a far, but couldn't spot him during the game. Not sure why he wasn't coaching...

3. I want to make money off of a Grizzlies victory on Saturday vs the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Didn't get a chance to place a bet, but I'm glad I didn't.

4. I'd like my picture taken with Rudy Gay
Didn't get a pic of us together, but my friend, Evan, got a few pics which I'll post as soon as he sends them to me.

5. I'd like to attend a Chris Mihm workout.
I wasn't able to scout Mihm. With AJ being dropped, I probably should have made this a priority.

6. Place a small wager on the Grizzlies winning the Championship.

I kept forgetting to do this, but on Sunday, I was wearing a Grizzlies shirt, and someone from Memphis in the parking lot of the Bellagio noticed me. He had just placed a bet with the odds of 300:1. Apparently, the odds are getting worse.

Other celebrity sitings included Kevin McHale, Tony Barone, Kurt Rambis, David Aldridge, and Steve Kerr.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Off to Vegas

In a few hours, I'm flying to Vegas, where bookies, according to CNNSI, have given the Grizzlies a 1:150 chance of winning the NBA Championship.

I'm not sure how the acquisition of Darko will affect that line, but I have a few goals while I'm there:

1. I'd like to get an exclusive interview with Mike Conley.

2. I'd like to meet Chris Wallace and Marc Iavaroni.

3. I want to make money off of a Grizzlies victory on Saturday vs the Minnesota Timberwolves.

4. I'd like my picture taken with Rudy Gay

5. I'd like to attend a Chris Mihm workout.

6. Place a small wager on the Grizzlies winning the Championship.

Look for me on Saturday at the game. I'll be wearing a retro 2003 Pau Gasol away jersey. I'll be with three friends: 2001 Michael Dickerson, 2001 Lorenzen Wright, 2004 James Posey.

Also, look out for an update Monday when I return.

Grizzlies Take a Chance on Darko

The Grizzlies appear to be set to sign Darko Milicic. If this were Ebert & Roeper, I'd give this move a mild thumbs up.

Milicic is unproven after 3 seasons. Most players have started to show glimpses of their potential after three seasons. However, Milicic's situation is somewhat unique given that he was buried on the bench in Detroit for most of the time.

My biggest concern is that Milicic doesn't address the biggest need for the Grizzlies: someone who can crash the boards and police the lane defensively.

His contract appears to be in the $21 million over 3 years range. This is more than he's been worth so far, but it's also not terrible considering the relative amount big men make. We'd be worse off with Zach Randolph's bloated contract even if Randolph is much better.

I like the fact that the Grizzlies are going after young talent that has the potential to develop rather than veterans who are too old to make a difference. A year ago, the Grizzlies would've signed Alonzo Mourning or Theo Ratliff instead...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Grizzlies Summer League Report

I just finished watching the Grizzlies vs Team China recorded on my DVR. The Grizzlies looked fantastic. Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry, and Tarence Kinsey looked particularly great, and Mike Conley and Alexander Johnson looked good as well.

The Marc Iavaroni era began as promised with a lot of running. What stood out to me were the number of steals (16) and dunks (alot) the Grizzlies had. The Grizzlies did a great job of playing the passing lanes and getting out on the fast break.

Once they were out on the break the Grizzlies had some spectacular dunks. A one-handed dunk over a Chinese player by Kyle Lowry stood out. The most spectacular play was Rudy Gay's 180, double pump, two-handed slam on Bucks rookie Jianlian Yi for which Gay received a technical after taunting the taller Yi. He also demonstrated his improved outside shot scoring 2 threes and a couple of mid-range shots.



Tarence Kinsey was on fire with his jumpshot from all over the court. He wasn't afraid to shoot it either. Mike Conley looked confident too. His most spectacular play was a layup where he changed hands in midair in traffic. He also hit a Tony Parker-patented floater.

It was nice to see Scooter McFagdon playing as well. I remember watching him play in high school though none of the non-Grizzlies stood out.

I'll be in Las Vegas next weekend, and I'll have to opportunity to see the team in person. Look for another report here when I get back the following Monday.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Will the Griz get a Big Man?

The Commercial Appeal reported that the Grizzlies won't lure Andres Nocioni from the Chicago Bulls this summer. Nocioni is likely to re-sign with the Bulls and I'm disappointed. Nocioni is a nice player. He adds toughness, energy, 3 point shooting, and defense. However, I must admit I'm not too disappointed.

To get Nocioni, the Grizzlies would probably have to offer 8 million a year. That would put the Grizzlies at the salary cap and give Nocioni more than he's worth. What the Grizzlies don't need are overpaid role players. (Nocioni will never be an All Star.) They already have Brian Cardinal.

If Nocioni was 7 foot and averaged 4 more rebounds and 2 more blocks, he'd be worth 8 million to the Grizzlies even if he wasn't an All Star. He's not as tall as Brian Cardinal. Therefore, though the Grizzlies need to take risks on players that have the potential to be great, letting Nocioni slip is not terrible.

Now for the back-up plan - Anderson Varejao. Like Nocioni, Varejao is a nice player. Unlike Nocioni, Varejao could play center next to Gasol. He's not as dynamic as Nocioni, but he fills a void the Grizzlies need. If the Grizzlies can get him for a reasonable price (6 million?), they should go for him. That would still make him the 3rd highest paid player on the team, but what else is going to convince an average big man to move from the Eastern Conference Champions to the worst team in the conference with the best big men.

The problem is that after Varejao and Nocioni, there is no one left. The Grizzlies will then have to trade for a big man, and Stromile Swift and Damon Stoudemire aren't going to return much of a big man.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

React: Grizzlies Select Conley

As predicted at Sportprojections.com, the Grizzlies selected Conley with the fourth pick. I'm happy about this pick. Conley seems like the best player available and he addresses a major need for the Grizzlies.

I like that he's young - only a freshman, and has the potential to develop into a star.

I hope that this doesn't stifle the development of Kyle Lowry, and I hope they're able to coexist.

Seems like a solid move from our young management.

What do you think? Comment below...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Less Than 24 Hours To Go

Tomorrow the Grizzlies will select the fourth player in the NBA draft...or trade the fourth pick for other players or draft picks.

A poll of readers at DavidLovesTheGrizzlies.blogspot.com demonstrated what other news sources have reported: the Grizzlies could choose any one of about half a dozen players.

Horford, if available seems like an obvious choice, and he won the poll by one vote. However, Horford might be taken with the third pick, and even if he's available, there's no guarantee that the Grizzlies will take him.

Conley Jr., second in the poll, is also a likely pick for the Grizzlies, who are in need of a point guard.

Unless there's a trade, Yi Jianlian, who tied Conley Jr. for second is almost certain to be available after the Grizzlies pick. The Grizzlies didn't attend Jianlian's workout in Los Angeles, and he could return to China if drafted by a team for which he didn't want to play.

Brandon Wright who came in fourth with 2 votes seems less likely for the Grizzlies, given that he may be a few years away from making strong contributions.

Jeremy Hunt and Marc Gasol are each received a vote, but Gasol will be lucky to make it into the first round, and Hunt will be lucky to get drafted.

A player, who received no votes, Joakim Noah, seems like the most likely choice at this point. Reports are that West is high on Noah, and he addresses the Grizzlies' need for a rebounder next to Gasol. Noah's has been questioned for his lack of offensive weapons, and many don't see a huge upside - will he be more than a role player?

Still, maybe even Grizzlies management don't know who they'll draft. Everyone predicted West would pick Mickael Pietrus during the 2003 draft, and Pietrus was eventually drafted by Golden State.

In less than 24 hours, we'll know...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sportprojections.com Predicts Conley Jr. at #4

Sportprojections.com has created a mock draft featuring projections from bloggers representing each team. The Grizzlies' pick was selected based on readers' choices in a poll at DavidLovesTheGrizzlies.blogspot.com.

Horford has received the most votes in the poll so far. However, the Hawks took Horford with the 3rd pick in the mock draft, so I had to choose between Conley Jr. and Jianlian. Given that the Grizzlies didn't work out Jianlian and the Chinese prospect would probably return to his homeland before making Memphis his home, I chose Conley Jr.

Read more about my selection in the mock draft at sportprojections.com, and don't forget to vote in our poll before Thursday's Draft.

Also, check out Kelly Dwyer's ranking of Chris Wallace among NBA executives at CNNSI. Note his position two places below Dream Team II star, Isiah Thomas...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

These Players Could Stay or Go for the Grizzlies

Don't forget to vote for your #4 pick in next Thursday's Draft! Horford is winning by one vote.

Stromile Swift

For all his faults, Swift can be a decent back-up big man. The Grizz should shop him, but keeping Swift wouldn't be the end of the world. Solid big men are difficult to find, and Swift can still provide shot-blocking, rebounding, and scoring off the bench. His contract isn't a bargain, but it doesn't break the bank either. (2 more years, ~$6 million)

Mike Miller

Miller's trade value is high. Because of his offensive ability, he could be a solid piece on a winning team. Because of his defensive weaknesses, he's not fit to be the second best player on a team. He's still young, and can help the Grizzlies win games. However, if the Grizzlies can get a young player who can develop into a leader of the team, Miller could be a valuable trade asset.

Hakim Warrick

Warrick had a great year. He demonstrated that he's willing to work in the offseason to improve his game, and he can be a solid contributor in a starting role on a good team. However, he's also a player without a position. He's not strong enough to play the 4 and too slow to play the 3. If the Grizzlies can get someone who better fits their need - at point guard and in the paint, they shouldn't be afraid to part with Warrick.

Lawrence Roberts & Alexander Johnson

Roberts and Johnson are solid contributors, but at this point, they haven't demonstrated that they'll be any more than a slightly different version of Swift. If either or both can sweeten a deal, than the Grizzlies shouldn't be afraid to part with them. If they're still in Grizzlies uniforms next year, they'll be able to provide solid minutes off the (end of the) bench.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Who Should the Grizzlies Drop?

Damon Stoudemire

Stoudemire is another unlucky break for the Grizzlies caught. Bringing the veteran point guard on two years ago was a good move by West. The Grizzlies looked good with Stoudemire, but one reason why West's strategy of surrounding Gasol with veterans past their prime was a bad strategy is that older players are more injury prone. Stoudemire's injury leaves him too slow to provide what the Grizzlies need. He should move on to an older team where he can provide back-up support. Stoudemire still has a couple of clutch moments in him, which is just what the top teams need.

Chucky Atkins

Atkins did a great service for the Grizzlies. He also helped himself out by demonstrating what he's capable of. Like Stoudemire, Atkins would look good on a team the needs a veteran point guard to help them in the playoffs. How about the Lakers?

Dahntay Jones

Jones has a place in the league, but he gets lost in the shuffle for the Grizz. He is a solid back-up defensive specialist. He'd look good on a team like Phoenix, but there's not room for another athletic guard on the Grizz.

Brian Cardinal

Like Stoudemire, Cardinal's Grizzly career has been hampered by injury. It's time to cut our losses. Cardinal reinforces that the Grizzlies don't need veteran role players, and Cardinal is ridiculously overpaid. It's time to move on...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Grizzlies Should Keep These Players

In addition to drafting a new player who can contribute next season, the Grizzlies have some work to do on their current roster. Here are the players they should keep:

Pau Gasol


Ok, if the right deal comes along maybe he should go. I think the Grizzlies aren't likely to get fair value for Gasol. They're likely to get a collection of young guys who have potential, but that's moving in the wrong direction. The Grizzlies need to start turning their collection of good players into fewer, better players... That said, Gasol has some areas to work on. Hopefully Coach Iavaroni will help with that.

Kyle Lowry

Lowry gave us glimpses of his ability before he went down at the beginning of the season. It looks like he's going to be a good point guard with the potential to be great. Since he's on his rookie contract, the Grizzlies should keep him and see if he's as good as they hope he is. I'd hate to see him go, only to become the star point guard we need.

Rudy Gay

The next two seasons are critical for Gay. The amount of effort Gay puts into developing his game during the offseason will determine whether he's an All Star or another uber-athletic wing man. The Grizzlies should hang on to him. They can't afford to find out Gay is the second coming of Tracy McGrady after anther botched trade.

Tarence Kinsey

Kinsey reminds me a little of Cuttino Mobley: a little undersized, but talented enough to pull it off. He seems like he's good enough to fill in the blanks, and may turn out to be better than that for some seasons down the road.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Who will the Grizzlies Choose?

I follow NBA basketball pretty closely, but I'm not too familiar with college players. The Commercial Appeal published an article similar to one I wanted to publish here.

That article listed the players that the Grizzlies are likely to pick at 4. The three I like best are Al Horford, Mike Conley Jr., and Brandon Wright in that order. Wright may have the biggest upside, but The Grizzlies already have Rudy Gay and Mike Miller. Unless he looks like he's going to be the next Tracy McGrady, I'd go for Horford to shore up the Grizzlies' front line or Conley to help out at the point.

Many of you probably know better than I who the Grizzlies should draft. I've added a list below. POST A COMMENT stating which player you like the most, and I'll add your vote.

Feel free to mention a player not listed, and I'll add him.

PLAYERVOTES
Al Horford 6-10, 245, F/C5
Brandan Wright 6-9, 205, F2
Joakim Noah 6-11, 232, F/C
Corey Brewer 6-9, 185, F
Mike Conley Jr. 6-1, 180, PG4
Acie Law 6-3, 195, PG
Yi Jianlian 7-0, 242, PF
4
Marc Gasol 7-0, 270, C
1
Jeremy Hunt 6-5, 210, SG
1

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Grizz hire Iavaroni

The Commercial Appeal is reporting.

I think this is a good move for the Grizzlies. If Iavaroni doesn't pan out, it won't be Heisley's fault. I like that Heisley is taking a chance on someone who has potential to have a big impact.

Let's hope this is the start of more to come...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Adding a Superstar: Part Five: Kobe Bryant

A report from Fan Nation claims Bryant says he'd only agree to a trade to one team. We can guess those teams aren't the Heat or the Spurs, so that gives us a 1 in 27 chance of being a potential destination for the best player in the league. Not quite as good as our chances of getting the #1 or #2 in last week's draft lottery, but slightly better than our chances arranging a trade with Portland or Seattle between now and late June.

While many dislike Bryant's character, his talent is undisputed. Like Michael Jordan, Bryant is arrogant and an asshole. Also, like Jordan, he's unstoppable, and makes those around him (read:Smush Parker) better. It turns out being an asshole helps out when motivating a group of 20-something professional athletes. Unlike Jordan, Bryant hasn't maintained a favorable image in most news media, but that's a story for another blog.

Like the other superstars examined, Bryant would have an immediate effect on the Grizzlies. He'd compliment Pau Gasol's post game. He can create plays for himself and others. He's proven he can play without a dominant play-making point guard (even when he was winning championships). He'd also shore up the Grizzlies porous perimeter defense and open the paint on offense with penetration and outside shooting, allowing the Grizzlies' weak rebounders to move up from the bottom of the league.

Bryant would have a bigger impact than any other player. Besides being a top player at both ends of the floor, Bryant would bring much needed leadership. Perhaps Bryant could motivate the Grizzlies bigs to improve defense in the paint. With Bryant, the Grizzlies would likely advance to the second round of the playoffs, however, the Grizzlies have enough talent to compete with the top teams if Bryant's leadership motivated the Grizzlies to improve as a team in the right areas.

What do you think? Are their other players on this list or other players not mentioned who'd have a bigger impact on the Grizzlies? Add a comment with your thoughts.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Adding a Superstar: Part Four: Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan is the most dominant big man in the league. He scores at will around the basket, with an arsenal of back to the basket moves. With Duncan and Gasol, the Grizzlies would have two players that teams must double team in the post. The Grizzlies would have 45 points per night from low post scoring, which is almost unheard of in today's guard-dominant game. (Points in the paint today come from athleticism, slashing guards or high-flying forwards, not post-up offense.)

Duncan is also consistently one of the best rebounders in the league and provides solid interior defense. He's been on the All-Defensive First Team seven times in his 9-year career.

With 3-4 assists per games, Duncan would have no trouble finding Mike Miller, Rudy Gay, and Pau Gasol for open shots.

Unfortunately, the Grizzlies wouldn't win the championship with Duncan. They'd certainly be a top team, but the Spurs aren't assured the championship and their team is much deeper without Duncan than the Grizzlies. Manu Ginobli and Parker could both be All Stars any season, while only Gasol is an All Star for the Grizzlies.

Like the Grizzlies, the Spurs have some aging stars, but Michael Finley's current level of play fits his role better than Damon Stoudemire's. Similarly, it's better to have specialists whose skills are defending wing players (Bruce Bowen) and hitting game-winning threes (Robert Horry) than specialists whose skills are dunking (Stromile Swift) and jumping (Dahntay Jones).

Duncan would definitely make the Grizzlies a top team, but one other player in the league would have a bigger impact on the team.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Two days later...

It seems like the consensus is that the Grizzlies will definitely get a good player at #4, maybe even a great player. Certainly, great players have come from the #4 pick or even later.

However, I don't find much comfort in this. The Grizzlies are still the worst team in the league. Last time they added a 'good' player in the draft, it turned out to be Drew Gooden.

What's more troubling is Geoff Calkin's report that Michael Heisley is looking at PJ Carlisimo because Marc Iavaroni is too expensive. Now, I'm not certain Iavaroni is the best candidate (he's seems like a good choice.), and over-paying is not a great strategy (though it's probably one the Grizzlies will need to employ), but is PJ Carlisimo the great innovator that's going to bring the Grizzlies out of the cellar?

The Grizzlies will probably have to hire additional agents to handle all the season ticket requests once they announce Seton Hall's Coach of the Century will be taking the reigns. Stars will be begging to come play for the coach that drove Latrell Sprewell to attempted murder. (Okay, maybe that wasn't a big step for Sprewell.)

Carlesimo's NBA record speaks for itself: 183-222 (.452). He does have one thing the Grizzlies don't - post season wins. 3 of them. He was 3-9, and one time, he was one game away from winning a 5 game series with the Trailblazers.

I'll grant that Iavaroni's record is 0-0. However, he also doesn't have baggage. He's coming from a winning organization,. He has a vision that's exciting. He's a fresh new face that the Grizzlies will be able to declare their own (if he makes good). People will know Iavaroni as the guy who coached the Grizzlies, not the guy who got choked, the guy who interviews during the season, the guy who has a Russian nickname from his TV job, or the best NBA executive ever (for the Lakers).

Heisley is going to have to do better than PJ Carlesimo. He's going to have to invest some effort and money into the Grizzlies future since he didn't win the draft. Then, maybe someone will want to buy it from him.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Nightmare Continues...

Ever wonder what it feels like to have a sphincter the size of the Liberty Bowl?

At this point, the Grizzlies know that feeling.

Just like the Suns, the Grizzlies were just on the receiving end of a swift kick in the ass by the league. It kind of reminds me of that time the Grizzlies were the 4th best team in the West and played the 2nd ranked Dallas in the first round of the playoffs instead of the fifth ranked Nuggets. Dallas won 11 more games than the Grizzlies and Memphis won 5 more than the Nuggets that year.

As asinine as David Stern is (There's a reason no one cares about the NBA.), he's not the individual who deserves the bulk of the blame for this recent shit storm that has rolled into Memphis, and no one wants to hear multimillionaire and their fans whine about their plights.

Instead we should place the blame on the individual who had control of the situation: Michael Heisley.

Tonight reinforces something most people learn shortly after they turn 21. Winning the lottery is a terrible strategy for improving your situation.

Also, when you're trying to up sell the value of your business, you shouldn't reverse development and growth.

So what can we do?

Don't buy season tickets. Don't buy tickets at all. Don't even buy NBA league pass. Wait until this organization puts forth a valuable product.

Tonight, the Grizzlies are franchise no one wants to own , running a team no one wants to watch, playing in a city where no player wants to live.

I guess there's always next year...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tomorrow Night & An Explanation

In honor of the biggest day in the history of the Grizzlies, davidlovesthegrizzlies will be taking a break from the 'Adding a Superstar' posts.

However, I understand from the feedback of some faithful readers that there is confusion and frustration over this series. I just wanted to clear up the point of the series.

The purpose of these articles is to consider what superstars would have the biggest impact on the Grizzlies, not consider the following:

  1. which players the Grizzlies should pursue
  2. which players the Grizzlies have a (any) chance of acquiring
  3. the top 5 players in the league
I realize that speculation with no basis in reality represents all the worst of fan blogs. However, perhaps by considering the impact that some of the league's best would have on the Grizzlies, we can learn what to look for in the players that the Grizzlies should and can acquire.

Even if there's no chance that Lebron will ever suit up as a Grizzly, knowing that his play making ability benefits the Grizzlies more than Dwayne Wade's ability to get to the hoop tells us something about the types of players the Grizzlies should pursue.

Also, it may be some help for those of you with NBA Live 2007 Franchises.

So what current stars do you think would have the biggest impact on the Grizzlies? Click 'comment' below and add your votes.

Let's hope luck bounces the Grizzlies way Tuesday, and they're able to add a star that exhibits some of the qualities of the league's current best.

Adding a Superstar: Part Three: Lebron James

The Grizzlies were one pick away from Lebron James. Had they won that lottery, they wouldn't have forfeited their pick to Detroit (which turned into Darko). They'd also be competing against the Jazz in the second round.

James brings help to all the areas where the Grizzlies need it the most, mostly because he does everything. He's a play-maker from the forward position, which makes up for Stoudemire's and Atkins' deficiencies. He's also be the Grizzlies' second best rebounder behind Gasol. He can shut down the best of scorers in the league, and he can score at will.

The Grizzlies' without James are better than the Cavs without James. Larry Hughes is a solid player, but not as good as Gasol. Z and Gooden aren't much better, if at all, than Mike Miller and Rudy Gay. Plus, the Grizzlies are much deeper.

In the East, the Grizzlies would be second only to Detroit. In the West, they'd be able to compete with Dallas, Phoenix, and the Spurs. Whether they beat those teams would depend on how dominant James was. He sometimes disappears from games when he should be willing his teams to victory the way Steve Nash and Baron Davis do. He has the skill to beat anyone in the league, so with James, the Grizzlies would be just outside of the league's best teams.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Adding a Superstar, Part Two Steve Nash

Steve Nash is the best point guard and the best play-maker in the league, and the Grizzlies are in bad need of a dominant point guard and play-maker. Not only would Nash make every Grizzly a better player, but he'd be an unstoppable threat in the paint and from the three point line.

Nash's play making ability would transform the Grizzlies' fast break experiment into a lethal offense. Imagine alley-oops to Rudy Gay and Hakim Warrick, drive and dishes to Mike Miller for three, and low post feeds to a seven foot Spaniard who can finish with both hands.

There are two problems with adding Nash. First, he doesn't help the Grizzlies' interior defense or rebounding.

Second, the Grizzlies minus Nash aren't as good as the Suns minus Nash. Even during the season before Nash arrived, the Suns finished with a better record (29 wins) than this year's Grizzlies (22 wins). Nash would instantly put the Grizzlies back into the playoffs, and they'd certainly break their playoff losing streak, but they'd still lose to this year's Suns, so they wouldn't win the championship.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Adding a Superstar, Part One: Dirk Nowitzki

The first player that would have the biggest impact on the Grizzlies is also the biggest dud of the 2007 playoffs: Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk would instantly make the Grizzlies a top five team. Combined with Gasol's back to the basket game, and Miller's three point-shooting, Dirk would give the Grizzlies an unguardable offense.

Additionally, Dirk would add much needed rebounding. Though he panders to his outside game, he still manages to rebound the ball extremely well.

He also doesn't need a strong play-making presence to be good. His best seasons have been with Jason Terry, not Steve Nash, so Dirk could dominate for the Grizzlies even though Damon Stoudemire and Chucky Atkins aren't All Star play makers.

Anyone who saw this year's playoffs knows that Dirk wouldn't lead the Grizzlies to a championship. Still, Dirk would easily get them to the playoffs, and out of the first round. With Gasol in the post, the Grizzlies might even have a better shot at beating the Warriors (though the Mavs still probably match up better against the Suns, Spurs, and Pistons).

The probably wouldn't have won 67 games, but with Dirk, the Grizzlies would have been a top team.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Adding a Superstar: Intro

I've posted many times that the Grizzlies need a superstar to get them to the next level. In the next 5 posts, look at some of the superstars and how they'd affect the Grizzlies if they joined last year's squad.

For the purposes of this list, I won't look at players from all of the best teams, only individual's I think would make the biggest impact. For instance, Chauncey Billups, the best player on the Pistons, would definitely make the Grizzlies a much better team. However, he's not a superstar; the Pistons rely on his ability to lead a strong group of players who have all been All Stars and different times in their careers.

Similarly, Baron Davis wouldn't impact the Grizzlies in the same way he's impacted Golden State because of Golden State's style of play, and Jason Kidd's age reduces his impact on the young Grizzlies' team.

In fact, of the five I'll examine, only one player would solidify the Grizzlies at the top of the league, though each of the five would help the Grizzlies compete with the top teams.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I had a Dream

This morning I had to wake up at 6:15 for an early meeting at work. As a result, of the change in my sleeping schedule, I remembered my dream. It involved a trade:

To the Heat
Mike Miller
Dahntay Jones

To the Grizzlies
Shaquille O'Neal

First the obvious:

  1. The salaries don't match up.
  2. The Heat would never trade a sports legend for someone with hair that bad, even if he's a University of Florida legend. Even if you throw in Dahntay Jones.
  3. The Grizzlies are better off without the aging superstar and his $60 million contract. (Still, the thought of Shaq next to Gasol is intriguing, and they'd be hard pressed to say no. Shaq has proved doubters wrong in the past and therefore deserves the benefit of the doubt.)
Now the less obvious, but more troubling:

Shaq would never agree to play in Memphis.

Shaq, and other veteran superstars don't want to play for the worst team in the league, even if it has a bright future, especially if the worst team calls Memphis its home. A Veteran superstar will only take a chance with a bad team (ie The Knicks) if it affords them the opportunity to play in a large market (ie New York).

A younger superstar may take a chance in Memphis if another team can't match the Grizzlies' offer. The chances that a more desirable market can't outbid the Grizzlies are slim.

A second tier (or lower) player would be happy to be overpaid in Memphis. The Grizzlies have a great group of these type of players most of whom aren't overpaid (yet).

So how do the Grizzlies obtain a superstar player when they're an undesirable market losing one of their biggest attractions in Jerry West?

There are three options:
  1. The Number 1 Draft Pick
  2. The Number 2 Draft Pick
  3. Trades
All three options are tough to pull off, but let's hope the Jerry West's last move is more Hubie Brown than Brian Cardinal.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Winning the Lottery

So much of the Grizzlies' fortunes depend on their ping pong ball being drawn on May 22. Only fans' good luck charms can help the Grizzlies' in their goal.

Greg Oden and Kevin Durant have the potential to make the impact that Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and and Dwayne Wade have made on their teams. The Grizzlies would instantly change from the worst team in the league to a top ten team. They already have a solid base of players. With a superstar, they could contend with the best if not compete for a championship.

However, chances are better than 50% that the Grizzlies won't get either player. They only have a 46.5% chance of getting either the first or second pick. In fact, few teams with the worst record in the league have actually ever received the number one pick.

So what should the Grizzlies do if they don't get the pick?

They are almost certain of another lottery pick next year if they don't get a top pick. Therefore, they should trade Gasol. His trade value is peaking, and he can't lead them to further than the first round without significant help. The Grizzlies should trade him for young talent with potential and draft picks. That will give them a chance to get a superstar in another draft lottery. Additionally, it will free up cap space to sign a legitimate superstar. Perhaps the Bulls will be ready to gamble on Gasol once the Pistons sweep them out of the playoffs.

Unfortunately, even if they free the cap space, convincing a Lebron-James-caliber-player to sign with Memphis may be less likely than the winning the NBA draft lottery...

Monday, April 30, 2007

Calkins is Wrong

Geoff Calkins is the sports editor for the Memphis Commercial Appeal. I love reading his articles, and nearly always agree with him. He isn't afraid to contradict conventional thinking or upset his subjects. While he sometimes tries to be too clever in his style, he also plays the tuba (a characteristic he shares with this writer).

However, recently Calkins was wrong. Two times. In one week.

He wrote two columns where he argued that hiring Larry Brown is a good idea. In Calkin's defense, he admits that many will challenge this opinion. However, the problem with Calkins' editorial is that hiring Brown is a terrible idea.

Yes, Brown is a great coach. You can't argue against his record.

You also can't defend Brown's character. Even Calkins admits (and CA writer Ron Higgens explains further) that Brown is famous for interviewing for new teams while coaching their competitors. While that's fine for most professions, when you're making $5 million a year and supposedly leading a team, that's poor sportsmanship.

If we were looking for poor sportsmanship, we'd have kept Jason Williams and Bonzi Wells.

However, there's a bigger reason not to go for Brown. It's time to look beyond veterans past their prime. Not only does Brown favor those veterans, but Brown is himself a veteran past his prime.

Hubie Brown, Jerry West, and Larry Brown are legends and hall of famers. Eddie Jones, Bobby Jackson, Jason Williams, and Bonzi Wells are savvy veterans with boatloads of playoff experience. It's time for the Grizzlies to move on.

It's time for us to be excited about young talent who make their name taking the Grizzlies deep into the playoffs, not players or coaches who made their names before Greg Oden could grow a beard.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Next year will be different

The only certainty about next year's Grizzlies is that the status quo is unacceptable.

Here's what we know will be different:

Jerry West will be gone. He'll help Michael Heisley decide who will be taking basketball decisions next year, who will be coach, and who will be drafted. However, he's essentially a lame duck.

Michael Heisley will take a more active role in the franchise. Heisley says he will take the team 'off the market' in a month. However, he's not actually going to take it off the market. He's still working to sell the team, and every decision he makes will be influenced by that goal. However, he realised during this disaster of a year that you can't run a team by freezing all activity. The best way to market a team is to offer the best product, and you have to be active to do so.

Player acquisition will focus on young talents and veteran superstars. The strategy since Jerry West took over has been to get old players past their primes who know how to win. These players can get you to the playoffs, but they're not exciting or talented enough to get the support of the fans or win a playoff game.

With this change in strategy, Damon Stoudemire, Chucky Atkins, and Brian Cardinal will likely be shipped out of town. Dantay Jones and Stromile Swift may be around, but they will likely be gone after this season if they make it to the February trade deadline.

The biggest change that could affect the Grizzlies is the draft. The Grizzlies have the chance to pick up a superstar that could affect the team the way Carmelo and Lebron have changed the Nuggets and Cavs. However, this outcome is not guaranteed. The Grizzlies' future is dependant on chance. The Grizzlies will certainly get someone who can impact the team. However, they may only get another strong contributor of which they already have too many.

Monday, March 19, 2007

This Year's Team is Different

This year's team looks much different from last year's. Analysts predicted the Grizzlies would tank this year because of the loss of Battier and Gasol. I thought these predictions were ridiculous. The Grizzlies had promising young rookie Rudy Gay and a healthy Stoudemire. Lorenzen Wright's play had been bad. Surely, Swift could replace him. Bobby Jackson was frequently injured and didn't play much anyway.

I was wrong. Several changes transformed the Grizzlies from a first round loser to the worst team in the league.

1. The Grizzlies had no All Star. Although Gasol continued to produce All Star numbers, he missed 21 games this season. That absence was enough to prevent another All Star appearance, and establish a losing mentality.

2. The veterans didn't age well. Stoudemire has slowly but surely regained some form, but it took a month or two, and he's not as good as he was. Eddie Jones was injured, and looked like he didn't care. Stromile has been consistently inconsistent.

3. The young players weren't able to contribute immediately. Rudy Gay has been improving throughout the year, but my enthusiasm clouded my optimism. Gay wasn't destined to be an All Star his rookie year or even Rookie of the year. Kyle Lowry could have helped at point guard but was hampered by injury. Lawrence Roberts and Alexander Johnson have a lot of energy and can be solid role players, but they don't possess the experience or the talent to win ball games alone.

4. Mike Fratello lost the support of his players. Once the slide began, Fratello wasn't able to adapt his style to fit his players. He wouldn't accept the fact that the Grizzlies weren't a playoff team so he continued to coach them like they were. As I've written before, his style may have masked the fact that the Grizzlies weren't a playoff team to begin with. The reason they made the playoffs last year is Fratello slowed the tempo to the point that they had a chance to win games. (Don't mistake this for good defense.) Last year, they had just enough talent to win those games. This year, they're just short of that talent, and when the tempo speeds up, only the margin of victory increases.

5. This may be the most significant difference between last year's squad and this years: The ownership changed it's strategy. First, Michael Heisley decided that the Grizzlies couldn't be successful as a business by investing significant money in basketball costs. Second, he contributed to a public and poorly executed attempt at selling the team to Brian Davis and Dream Team Star Christian Laettner. This not only served as a distraction to fans, players, and other personnel, but also prevented Jerry West from taking risks that could have turned the team around. This strategy may help the Grizzlies in the long term, but it certainly hurt them this season.

6. Players have been asked to perform above their current abilities. Mike Miller, Chucky Atkins, and Hakim Warrick have all had career years. Resigning Atkins seemed like an afterthought last summer. I was skeptical of his ability to perform for more than 10-15 minutes per game. I was wrong. Atkins has proved me and probably others wrong. He's a solid contributor. However, he's still not a star point guard, and he's been asked to be that this season. In order for the Grizzlies to make up for the loss of Gasol they needed other players to step up and lead. Miller, though not the one-dimensional player he was earlier in the season, is not quite a star. Warrick has impressive offensive skills but gets beat up on defense. He shares Gasol's weaknesses: he's not a strong rebounder or help defender.

These characteristics that distinguish this year's team from last year's have resulted in strikingly different results. Instead of finishing with one of the best records in the league, the Grizzlies have the worst. Hopefully, this will allow the Grizzlies to make the necessary changes in the offseason that will make next year's team look strikingly different from this year's.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Last Year's Team Was Different

Just one year has resulted in significant changes in the performance of the Grizzlies. The record of this year's Grizzlies team is remarkably different from last year's team. With a high probability of a high draft pick in a deep draft, trade demands from the franchise player, a new coach, and possible changes in the front office, next year holds the potential for another big change.

In this article, the first of three, I'll remember last season, in hopes that it will shed some light on the huge difference in the results the Grizzlies have produced.

Here are some of the characteristics that distinguish last year's team from this year's. What's interesting is that they aren't dramatic.

1. Last year's team had three veterans that made significant contributions.

Shane Battier
Bobby Jackson
Lorenzen Wright

None of these veterans were flashy. Two of them were past their primes. None of them made statistical contributions that stand out among the 5th, 6th, or 7th men of the league. However, each of them provides intangibles that aren't quantifiable and contributed significantly, though not exclusively, to the difference between last year's playoff team and this year's league-worst squad.

2. Only one coach led the team. Mike Fratello conducted his first training camp. In the previous season he'd inherited a team from Hubie Brown. Last year's team benefited from consistency throughout the year from one coach.

3. The Grizzlies had their first All Star. Previously Shareef Abdur-Rahim put up All Star numbers. However, coaches and fans consider team performance when they select All Stars, and none of Abdur-Rahim's teams won more than 23 games. Pau Gasol was the best player on a Grizzlies team destined for its third straight appearance, and improved upon numbers that in the previous two seasons were borderline All Star numbers.

These characteristics don't seem like the missing pieces that would turn the worst team in the league into a playoff team, and they aren't the only variables that affected the Grizzlies' decline. However, they had a significant impact on the Grizzlies' appearance in the 2006 playoffs.