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:

San Antonio


Golden State
LA Lakers
New Jersey
New Orleans


LA Clippers

New York


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...