Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Thoughts on the Gasol Rumors

It seems that there are a few possibilities floating around:

1. Trade Gasol to Portland for Aldridge, Magloire, and Rodriguez. I know little about Aldridge or Rodriguez, or their potential. There stats aren't impressive, but they're both rookies who could develop and don't accompany a large investment.

I've lobbied to trade for Magloire since he played in New Orleans with Baron Davis (who I also thought we should have acquired). However, I wanted him when we needed a strong presence next to Gasol. Now, we'd only take on the flexibility that his expiring contract would provide. While I'm not opposed to that strategy, it doesn't offer much short-term hope given the weak up coming free agent class.

To take this deal, I'd want Portland's #1 pick and a strong likelihood that it would be one or two, which would get us much closer to making a huge jump with the draft.

2. Trade Gasol to Boston for Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, and the #1 pick. This one is similar to the Portland trade, and I'd take it on draft day if Boston's pick is low enough. Jefferson, though not established, has demonstrated quality play. Ratliff is Boston's version of Magloire, and Durant and Oden in Memphis is more likely with Boston's pick. Neither player is enticing enough especially given the likelihood that Gasol will decrease Boston's chances of a top pick. If the pick is one or two, I'd even throw in Will Conroy.

3. Trade Gasol to Chicago for Ben Gordon, Deng, New York's Draft pick, and PJ Brown. I like this trade. Gordon and Deng have a huge upside. The Knicks' pick, while not as good as Boston's will still be a lottery pick in a deep draft. I'd do the trade without Brown and would consider it without Deng (and with Brown) though I'd prefer to add a Grizzly and get both.

I've heard Warrick rumored as that additional player, but I'd hesitate to give him up. Instead, I'd give up a veteran like Stoudemire, who'd be nice backing up Hinrich in the playoffs. Acquiring Gordon makes Miller expendable. Perhaps he could be included in a three-team deal.

4. Gasol remains a Grizzly. None of these trades ensures that the Grizzlies get a superstar/franchise player in return, and I'm hesitant to give up one superstar for many less-talented players. However, as long as these deals include draft lottery picks, they give the Grizzlies an opportunity to take further advantage of this year's draft. Also, I like the financial flexibility the Grizzlies get, and I think they have solid young players in Gay and Warrick who could develop into stars.

That said, I'm happy to keep Gasol. His play, particularly his rebounding, has been inspired since these rumors surfaced. He's a star, and past experience suggests that it's difficult to get the better end (for the short term) of a trade when sending a star packing. Trading Gasol will most definitely mean no playoffs next year (with or without Durant and Oden) whereas keeping Gasol (and acquiring a player like Durant or Oden) could mean the Grizzlies' absence from the playoffs only lasts one season.

Trading Charles Barkley made the 76ers bad enough to get Allen Iverson, but they had to endure Shawn Bradley first.

I'm comfortable with the trades above with low draft picks because they give us the opportunity to get Bradley and Iverson in this years draft, but I'm also happy West has not been quick to act. I trust he'll ensure that even if we're on the wrong side of an Allstar trade, we'll still give ourselves a jump start on rebuilding.

Grizz Sign Will Conroy

The Grizz followed the buyout of Eddie Jones' contract by signing Will Conroy. I know nothing of Conroy, but I wonder why management would sign a player to share time with Stoudemire and Atkins.

It seems like those two veterans are contributing solid enough minutes that the team wouldn't need to take on another player who doesn't look to be around for long

Monday, January 29, 2007

Grizz Defeat Sacto

Gasol put together an all star performance. I didn't get to see the entire game, but he had several nice blocks during the 4th quarter. Most impressive was the fact that the blocks were against players that Gasol wasn't guarding. It's as if he's reading my blog.

Also, I enjoyed seeing my proposed starting 5 on the floor during long stretches in the fourth:


To see how far the Grizz have come, please also see this article.

Jones is gone

Apparently the Grizzlies agreed to a buyout of Eddie Jones' contract.

I hope they got a good deal.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Gasol Responds

Gasol responded to criticism from the media that he requested the Grizzlies trade him.

He criticised 'writers and journalists' for questioning his professionalism and desire to win.

I can't speak for other's, but I'll clarify my point.

I don't question Gasol's desire to win or the fact that he plays hard every night and works to improve his game. In addition, I don't blame him for playing for Spain, breaking his foot, or the Grizzlies' record.

I'm disappointed in his reaction to the Grizzlies' situation. There are many responses he could've had to this frustrating season. He could have demanded Jerry West improve the team through trade. He could have challenged Heisley's strategy of 'wait and see' during the Brian Davis fiasco. He could have challenged or worked to motivate his teammates to play more defense.

He could demonstrate a concerted effort to improve his own game. (Everyone can always work harder.)

Gasol's response was to demand a trade 20 games after returning from injury without trying any of these strategies.

He claims he's loyal to the team and loyal to Memphis, and I respect Gasol for playing hard even though he'd rather be elsewhere. But his actions, his request for a trade, don't demonstrate loyalty.

I'm sure he's grateful for what Memphis and the Grizzlies have done for him.

Gasol should demonstrate what he can do for the Grizzlies. Isn't he the franchise player?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Gasol Demands Trade

Gasol demands trade?

Is this the guy who damned our season by breaking his foot in the World Championship Games? We paid this guy for 22 games where he sat on the bench and his teammates suffered because of his LOYALTY to his home country, Spain. That's 3.3 Million per game. Assuming he plays in preseason games and goes to training camp for free. Which he doesn't. And NOW he demands a trade?

We endured years of development as Gasol matured into one of the dominant back-to-the-basket players in the game. Now, as he enters his the peak of his career, he demands a trade?

At this point in his career, with no obvious conflict with management, I can't believe Gasol is demanding a trade. He's not Allen Iverson. He's Steve Francis. A one-time All Star. (Steve Francis was actually an All Star 3 times.)

After this, we should be demanding that he get the hell out of Memphis. We should demand that he learns how to play help defense, or any kind of defense. (It's embarrassing to watch Nene weave his way through our defense like he's Allen Iverson.)

Gasol is 7 feet tall and supposedly passionate about winning. Help defense and rebounding are effort. If he devoted the effort on defense that he did on offense the Grizzlies wouldn't be a porous team. They wouldn't have lost 12 straight playoff games. (Tonight Gasol had 17 rebounds. He's either auditioning all of a sudden or 17 misses happened to bounce his way.)

Gasol is a dominant offensive player. He scores and passes at will. However, he's been ridiculed by many as soft. I've always defended Gasol because of his professionalism and devotion to making his team and himself better. Now, I see I was wrong. Gasol IS soft. He's not strong enough to take this franchise (which has named him its player) and make it a contender. Gasol has given up on Memphis, and Gasol has given up on himself. He thinks he's a star that deserves to be put in a situation where he can win. This situation was his. He could have made the team win. These demands demonstrate his disloyalty and lack of professionalism.

A beard does not make a player great, and throwing your hands up in the air doesn't make the play a foul.

Here's my proposal. First, if I were Rudy Gay or Hakim Warrick, I would never pass the ball to Gasol.

Second, trade him to Toronto for Chris Bosh. In Toronto, Gasol will be two teammates away from having the starting 5 of the Spanish National Team.

The only problem is Chris Bosh is better than Gasol, so the Raptors would never accept that trade. Luckily, the Grizzlies have plenty of other players to make the deal attractive. (Judging from tonight's game, management has decided to play Brian Cardinal so he can be included in a trade.)

Once Gasol is gone, the Grizzlies can rebuild in earnest. It will be a lot easier to be competitive when we have 5 players at both ends of the court.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Grizzlies Embarass Themselves in LA

The Grizzlies embarrassed themselves against the Clippers on Saturday. Their defense was non-existent.

Gasol doesn't play help defense and he doesn't rebound. His rebounds are misses that go directly to him; he doesn't go after the ball the way great rebounders do.

Still, he continues to impress on offense, and the Grizzlies would've been in the game if anyone besides him and Rudy Gay could have contributed.

Speaking of Gay, he looked impressive. He should take the ball to the hoop every time. There's no need for him to settle for his streaky outside shot. I was able to attend the Cavs-Warriors Overtime game, and Lebron's ease of navigating through traffic to the basket brought to mind what Gay's value to the Grizzlies should be. Gay has certainly demonstrated the athleticism.

Gay is not Lebron James, but he can definitely contribute to the Grizzlies something they lack, and James provides: an athletic small forward that can get to the hole.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Possible Trades for the Grizzlies

You may wonder what the Warriors-Pacers eight player trade has to do with the Grizzlies.

Not much.

But it does demonstrate that anyone, regardless of contract, can be traded. Mike Dunleavy, who'll make 8-9 million during the three seasons after this one, has consistently
averaged about 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists during his 6 year career. Modest numbers for a number 2 draft pick, who should warrant more than 30 minutes per game. The Warriors finally succeeded in getting rid of Dunleavy and managed to acquire better players in return.

(Insert Knicks joke.)

Luckily for the Grizzlies they don't have any contracts as bad as Dunleavy's. However, they do have some players who make more than their contributions suggest they should. Brian Cardinal is the obvious example. Cardinal is a solid player and by all accounts a model citizen. He could definitely contribute (maybe not at the 7 million level) for another team, but there just aren't enough minutes in Memphis.

Big Jake on the other hand probably has peaked in his NBA career. Still, he's serviceable enough to be thrown into a deal.

So who should the Grizzlies trade for?

My picks tonight are Richard Jefferson or Andrei Kirilenko.

I like these players because they're versatile, Kirilenko on both offense and defense. Both can be All Stars, and both, from an outsider's perspective, seem to be available.

The main reasons to be wary are both players have injury issues, and both players play positions where the Grizzlies are too deep. (Read: Forward)

That said, let's consider the possibilities.

According to, Kirilenko could be traded for Cardinal, Jake, and Dantay Jones. Jerry Sloan would no doubt love Jones' defense and Cardinal's hustle, and Utah would drop a huge contract that's under-performing. says Jefferson would work for the same trade, and I'm sure Jake is the big man Jason Kidd wants to play with.

Sure these trades are probably unlikely. Still, worse have been made. Charles Barkley was traded for Jeff Hornicek, Andrew Lang, Tim Perry, and someone else that I'm not going to bother to look up.

One recurring theme of this blog which this trade does not address is the lack of minutes the Grizzlies have to distribute. Both scenarios involves 3 players who don't play many minutes in exchange for 1 player who demands 35. The Grizz may be better suited to include Stromile Swift, Hakim Warrick, or Lawrence Roberts in one of these trades. They'd make the trades more appealing and cut down on the number of players who demand minutes. Roberts and Warrick can be added. Swift can be substituted for Jake.

Thanks to CNNSI,, and Realgm for all the data.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Grizzlies' Style Highlights Strength

With all the changes that have taken place, it seems like the same problems haunt the Grizzlies: defense and rebounding.

They had scorers even when the played a slowed-down style. Now their scoring is the focal point of their style rather than a compliment. It's easier to see that their scorers aren't as talented as the Suns and the defense isn't as good as the Spurs. (The good news is that they're better than the 76ers.)

It's also easier to see that when they were 50-32 they weren't too far from 10-30. As Kelly Dwyer explains, the slowed-down style only kept the game close enough to allow the Grizzlies to win it with their offense at the end; it didn't make them a good defensive team.

This may be why the Grizzlies were swept in the playoffs, where defense wins games, three years straight. This may also be a wake-up call for management. The Grizzlies need radical change before they compete with the top teams.

That said, they may have played better defense when Brown and Fratello were counting deflections, and they can probably play defense better now with the players they have than they currently are.

I'm content to watch them run up the court for this season and win a few exciting games. I hope this strategy will allow Gay, Warrick, Johnson, and Roberts to develop into strong, consistent contributors next season, and I think they'll improve over the next 42 games.

However, I also hope the Grizzlies will work harder in the offseason than ever before. Bonzi Wells, Brian Cardinal, and Bobby Jackson won't get the Grizzlies to their first playoff win.

Thanks to the Critical Sports Blog for the shout out.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Grizzlies to Release Jones?

The Commercial Appeal is reporting that the Grizzlies may release Eddie Jones.

In the same article, the CA says the Jerry West isn't likely to make a major change before this summer. It makes sense to wait until the summer to make a major investment. Any increase in payroll this season won't result in a playoff berth and will reduce the Grizzlies' chances of getting a low draft pick.

Since the Grizzlies shouldn't pick up additional players this season, they should only buyout Jones' contract if they'll save significant money through the buyout.

Since he comes off the books at the end of the season, the Grizzlies aren't likely to make significant gains from buying out the contract, and Jones isn't taking significant minutes (18
minutes per game) from the younger players or (likely) causing conflict in the locker room.

In fact, Eddie Jones can probably more help mentoring the younger Grizzlies that he can giving up his minutes.

Buying out Jones' contract does have one benefit: it gives a classy player who has had a great career the chance to contribute to a championship contender.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Big Pussy Adds Excitement to the Grizzlies

I was lucky enough to witness Fratello's last game live at the Fedex forum. It was almost as depressing as Season 6 of the Sopranos. Luckily, Big Pussy aka Tony Barone has turned the Grizzlies into what I throught they'd be when I challenged just about every sports writer's prediction.

If only Fratello had lasted two more games, the Grizzlies could've blamed the first 32 games on the new ball.

The difference we've already seen is a testement to Fratello impact on the team. While Fratello is a great coach, his style clearly wasn't working.

After three games almost everyone is performing significantly better than before. (Gasol was doing well both before and after.) Miller, who was effective from three before, is incredible now. Stoudemire and Atkins are actually accumulating assists. Rudy Gay looks more like a steal and less like Patrick O'Bryant.

Stromile Swift is even showing promise after so many years of disappointment. Granted it's early, and the Grizzlies still probably won't win many games. They're playing like a team, and it's exciting to watch.

The only downside is that Hakim Warrick seems to have become somewhat lost in the shuffle. Hopefully, he'll carve out a role where he can contribute. Otherwise, I'd bet on him being traded during the summer. He's a steal with his contract, so I'd vote for finding significant minutes for him.

It's clear that coaching the Grizzlies is a better job right now.