Saturday, December 13, 2008

Grizzly Streak to 9-15

Sorry it's taken so long to update David Loves the Grizzlies. I know you've been missing my in depth analysis. It's been a busy couple of weeks for both me and the Grizzlies, so I'll try to touch on all the latest.

Grizzlies win 4 straight and 5 of their last 6.
It's a lot of fun to watch the Grizzlies playing well. The offense is starting to look cohesive at time, Conley is showing some promise finishing under the basket, shooting threes, and distributing the ball, and even Darko is playing basketball at both end of the court consistently.
Next, I'd like to see the Grizzlies play this well against a team that's significantly better. The upcoming Lakers and Hornets games are two good opportunities.
I commend Heisley and Wallace for weathering the storm. The could have easily made a quick trade or fired Iavaroni, but they chose to wait and see. It's paying off for now.
During the recent stretch, I put David Loves The Grizzlies hard-earned money on the line while visiting Vegas for the weekend. The Grizzlies covered for the Clippers game and did not cover for the Hornets game despite a 14 point spread.
Grizzlies Trade Javaris Crittendon for the First Round Draft Pick They Traded Away a Year Ago for Juan Carlos Navarro. 
Yawn...
Grizzlies Sign Darius Miles.

I like this deal. At best, Miles is an athletic player that can contribute at a several positions. At worst, the Grizzlies just gain a bargaining chip over the Blazers. Playing Miles for 10 games will hurt the Blazers bottom line and their ability to compete with the Grizzlies in the free agent market. 

My only concern with the deal is that Miles is reportedly replacing Antroine Walker who will be bought out. This concerns me because Walker doesn't play. Whose minutes is Miles going to take? The only possiblities I can think of are Hakim Warrick and Quinten Ross. Do we really expect Miles will serve as an upgrade over those players?
I have a new favorite Memphis Grizzly.
Weeks ago, I called for the Grizzlies to waive Darko Milicic. I humbly ask for Darko's forgiveness. Darko has quietly picked up his mediocre play to a serviceable level. He's catching more (but not all) passes in the paint, he finishing more often, and he's getting dunked on less frequently. 

All that's great, but what I really like is Darko's recent tendency to spar with opponents and pick up technical fouls. Today against Miami, former All Star Jamaal Magloire was ejected for headbutting Milicic after being separated from the Serbian on the previous posession during a heated staredown. 

Even better, against the Rockets last week, Darko ripped his jersey in half a la Hulk Hogan. It was one of my favorite moments in Grizzlies history.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Post Game Thoughts on the Grizzlies Loss to the Thunder

Embarrassing is too nice a word to describe what transpired tonight.


The Grizzlies must be worried that the Thunder are going to have more ping pong balls next summer.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Post Game Thoughts on the Grizzlies Loss to the Spurs

I liked the way the Grizzlies looked tonight against the Spurs. They lost, but they kept it close despite relentless attempts by the more talented Spurs to put them away.


Also, I have to give credit to Darko Milicic and Mike Conley. If each player can play like they did against the Spurs consistently, they'll be solid players for the Grizzlies.

I appreciated that Coach Marc Iavaroni kept Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo in the game for extended minutes instead of going with the regular rotation. The bench looked pretty bad, and Mayo and Gay kept the team in the game.

Finally, one last note: OJ Mayo will score 40+ in a game this season.  Watch for it. It will happen.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Time to Give Thanks

How bad would the Grizzlies be if we had Mike Miller and Kevin Love instead of OJ Mayo?







Give thanks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Milsap Scores 24 as Utah Practices for the Dunk Contest.

I think the Grizzlies read my blog and decided they'd use it as a guide for their performance against Utah. 


Here's a recap of my most recent post with updated thoughts from tonight's embarrassment.

1. Fire Iavaroni

The Grizzlies looked lost on both offense and defense. One of the most telling sequences came after a time out in the 2nd half, when the Grizzlies struggled to run a set, and gave the ball up to a Utah steal that resulted in an uncontested breakaway dunk.

2. 'Starbury' Milicic

The Grizzlies interior defense was a joke. Though it wasn't entirely Milicic's fault, the center was a liability on both ends of the court. He certainly couldn't guard Milsap or Okur. 

I cannot fathom how Ron Tillery or Marc Iavaroni can refer to Milicic as a defensive specialist. 


You've got to be kidding me. An elite defender? Consistent rebounding? Darko played 18 minutes and pulled down 2 rebounds in a game where the Grizzlies were out-rebounded 44-30. 

The only times he wasn't getting dunked on was when he was so far out of position that he wasn't close enough to the basket to be dunked on. 

He wasn't the only player missing his assignment, but to call Milicic an elite anything is ridiculous. 


3. Trade for a shooter and move OJ Mayo to point guard.

Mayo was dominant with the ball in his hands for stretches. Lowry already gives it up to him whenever he's in the game. And both Lowry and Conley struggle to find consistency. Let's at least give Crittenton a look wat 2 with Mayo at the point.

4. The Grizzlies make average players look like All Stars.

Utah didn't need Boozer, and Williams eased his way back from an injury. That's because the Grizzlies were satisfied with perfromances from Paul Milsap and Ronnie Brewer that were among the best performances either has had in his short NBA career.

Not only did they have about 10 combined dunks (Okay I pulled that number out of my ass.), but both also tied season highs in points scored. (By the way, Brewer's previous season high was - you guessed it - 21 points against the Grizzlies.)

Milsap also increased his season high rebound total from 10 to 16. That is a 60% increase for those of you keeping score. 

Happy Thanksgiving from David Loves the Grizzlies.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back To Reality

The Grizzlies are back to being the Grizzlies. When the Grizzlies lost to a Tony Parker-less Spurs team last night, it confirmed what anyone with a brain knew 2 weeks ago: the early season success was a fluke.


Here are a few key strategies the Grizzlies should employ to turn things around. 

1. Fire Coach Marc Iavaroni.

He seems like a really smart, reasonable guy who is a hard worker. He's also lost a lot of games, including many close games, and he's been doing it for over a year. You don't lose with such consistency for this long and keep your job in the NBA. 

With this young team, a success would be getting these players to over achieve. Iavaroni has not done that. The Grizzlies have not only lost close games, they've also been blown out by mediocre teams and teams missing their best players. 

This is not a playoff team with any coach, but there's someone out there who can get more from the group, and I haven't seen any games where I thought, "Gee, this is good coaching."

2. "Starbury" Darko.

Remember when Al Gore gave a speech at Columbia University about Global Warming on the coldest day of the year a while back? I'm going to do the same thing and call for the Grizzlies to permanently bench Darko after his best game of the year.

As a Grizzly, Darko has proved to be good for one thing: guarding Tim Duncan and a handful of players like him. It's not worth it. It's time to move on. Bench him. Waive him. Or trade him.

3. Trade for a shooter and move OJ Mayo to starting point guard. Inevitably, either Conley or Lowry will have to be traded. The Grizzlies can make do with either in a back up role. However, Mayo has proven to be the best and only play maker of the back court.

Mayo is the best because, unlike the other point guards, when he penetrates, he actually finds his teammates or scores the basketball. Lowry scores occasionally, and Conley finds teammates occasionally, but neither does both with any consistency, and by the way, mostly they just stand at the three point line and pass the ball to Mayo.

Therefore, package one or two of them and any body else not named Mayo, Gay, or Gasol, and get a bonafide shooter. 

4. There's one more problem that needs to be solved, but I can't quite pinpoint it. It's related to making Roger Mason, Wilson Chandler, and Luc Mbah a Moute into all stars. 

These guys should not be scoring close to 20 points, especially not in the FedEx Forum. 

The Grizzlies have to stop allowing this. It is embarrassing. I'm not sure if it's a new defensive philosophy, added personnel, or a swift smack in the face, but the Grizzlies should set a goal from here on out. No one who averages less than 10 should score more than 20. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

OJ Mayo

It's easy to focus on the negative. And there are definitely reasons to be worried about Mike Conley. Furthermore, any optimism a Grizzlies fan might have should be tempered. After all, the we're only eight games into the season, and the Grizzlies are two games under .500.


With that said, the Grizzlies are doing their best to turn this blogger into a believer, and it starts with OJ Mayo.

OJ Mayo has been fantastic so far. He's played like someone in his eighth season, not his eighth game.

If Chris Wallace and Michael Heisley haven't been right about anything in their entire lives, they're right about one thing: This team is worth watching.

If I was in Memphis, I think I would try to get tickets to the Knicks game on Wednesday.

Since I'm stuck in the Bay Area, I'll check in on the campaign to fire Kevin McHale. The Fire-McHale-O-Meter is indicating a status of "Nervous, but it's still early":











Sunday, November 09, 2008

Grizzlies Looking Better Than Expected

The Grizzlies looked better tonight in a loss to the Denver Nuggets than they did Friday night beating the Warriors.


They ddin't look like a team with three rookies starting, and they didn't look like a team that's comfortable coasting to the lottery.

In the first three quarters against the veteran  Nuggets in Denver, the Grizzlies looked like the team in control. 

It will be interesting to see if they can maintain their poise against an even more experienced and talented Phoenix team tomorrow. After that test, the Grizzlies have three winnable games at home. Just two weeks ago, I wouldn't have referred to any three games on the Grizzlies' entire schedule as winnable.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Grizzlies Remain Undefeated Against the Warriors

As I was sitting in Oracle Arena, I promised myself that I wouldn't be too negative if the Grizzlies won the game. After all, I've always tried to measure the Grizzlies by their ability to win more than anything else. And the Grizzlies won the game!


Therefore, I will only mention the Grizzlies' deficiencies briefy. 

First, they should run some plays that aren't isolations. Second, Conley passes when he should shoot.

Third: Darko. The Grizzlies should waive him. Don't even bother trading him. He was playing so terribly that the turning point of the game was his ejection after 12 minutes in the game. That's when Iavaroni was forced to give his minutes to Arthur and Warrick who were quite good.

Also, there were at least two times when no-dunk-Darko was above the rim with the ball, and instead of dunking, like any normal seven footer would, he dropped the ball through the hoop or flipped it in.

That's enough of that for now. The Grizzlies won the game: 

First, Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo are not only extremely talented scorers who can create their own shot, they also have the right attitude. In the third quarter, Gay became angry as the Warriors were making a run due in part to careless turnovers from the Grizzlies. His demeanor changed almost in an instant and he started playing aggressively drawing fouls and converting free throws. It reminded me of Pau Gasol on opposite day.

Second: Hakim Warrick. Unlike Darko, Warrick likes to dunk. He does it a lot, and he does it well. He does give up size on defense, and the Warriors, particularly Bedrins, punished the Grizzlies under the basket when Arther and Warrick we playing together. However, Warrick's athleticism and aggressive rebounding make up for his smaller size. 

Third and most important, the Grizzlies won. This is a team that wasn't supposed to win 20 of 82 games, and they have already won 3 of 6. They currently have a better record than San Antonio, Dallas, Denver, Portland, and Philadelphia. Think about that for just a minute - The Grizzlies are .5oo, and they have played more than 2 games. 

Furthermore, they are guaranteed to at least split the series with a Western Conference team. Many analysts projected the Grizzlies as the worst or second to worst team in the entire league, and they have a strong chance of winning the season series with a team that was over .500 last year.

This is the first time in a long time that I have gone to Grizzlies game with the feeling that they could win the game, and that is a welcome change.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Grizzlies Electing to Win for a Change

The early results suggest this year's Grizzlies are not only better than last year's 'team', but they're also fun to watch. 


They're fun to watch because, despite the expectations, they're winning. 

It is fun to have a team that's better than expected, and it's fun to cheer for a team that wins. 

With that said let's not declare victory until all the votes are in. We're only 4 games into the season, and there are still reasons to be concerned. The offense is incoherent at times. The team looks inexperienced at times, and Mike Conley has struggled or disappeared almost all the time.

With that said, there's reason to be optimistic. Marc Gasol is impressive, even when he's not putting up ridiculous numbers as he did against Golden State. Darrell Arthur and OJ Mayo don't look like rookies, even when they aren't playing at their best, and Rudy Gay has picked up where he left off. 

What stands out most about this team is its defense. Individually, Marc Gasol Kyle Lowry have stood out on defense. However, it also turns out that when you replace Darko, Miller, and Pau with Mayo, Arther, and Marc, your team defense and rebounding improves. Who knew?

I'm eager to see how our young team responds to two winnable games on the road this week against Sacramento and Golden State. I'll be attending Friday's game in person in Oakland. I never considered the possiblity that thr Grizzlies would be at or near .500 for their first trip to the Bay Area.

That is change I can believe in.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Grizzlies Win!

The Grizzlies proved me wrong. They won their first game tonight against Orlando when I predicted their first win would be game three against Chicago.


Thank you Grizzlies. 

As a side note, I love watching Marc Gasol play. How can this guy be related to Pau Gasol?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Your Questions about the Grizzlies' Season Answered Here

With the season beginning, you may have a few questions about our new (read: same old) Grizzlies. Luckily, I'm here to arbitrarily make up your questions for you and answer them without providing supporting evidence.

  1. How long will Iavaroni last?

    Remember on April 1 when I predicted that Iavaroni would be judged by the Grizzlies performance during the first 20 games of this season? Well, we finally get to see if I'm right. If the Grizzlies are better than expected (Imagine a 30 win pace.), then Iavaroni is safe. Given that this team doesn't look  better than last year's team, I think Iavaroni may be spending Christmas in Arizona.

  2. What's with the point guard situation?

    Mike Conley is the starter. There are four other players, Kyle Lowry, Javaris Crittendon, OJ Mayo, and Marko Jaric, who can also play point. The Grizzlies will likely trade Crittendon and Lowry for something insignificant. Conley will probably average 12 and 5, and next year, we'll continue to wonder if he's going to develop into Tony Parker. 

  3. What's with the big man situation?

    The first thing you should know about the big man situation is that Darko Milicic is terrible. Please do not tell me about his defense, his ability to block shot, or his 'potential'. He's seven feet tall and he can't even dunk. If I was seven feet tall, all I would do is dunk. Mililcic will never make meaningful contributions on a winning team so it is time to move on. 

    That means the Grizzlies have Hakim Warrick and two rookies in the post. I think you will find that the Grizzlies have difficulty rebounding and playing defense. The good news (yes, there is some good news) is that Darrell Arthur and Marc Gasol may develop into players that con contribute on a good team. 

    The Grizzlies still need an all star caliber big man to compete in the playoffs, and their current players won't develop into that.

  4. How good is OJ Mayo?

    OJ Mayo, unlike Darko Milicic, has the potential to be good. He should be good enough to make the Rookie-Sophomore game, and he's got a good chance of making the All Rookie Team. Mayo would exceed expectations if he won rookie of the year as there is stiff competition, but he's not going to make the All Star team this year, and I imagine we'll be asking the same questions about his potential this time next year.

  5. Will anyone attend any games?

    Yes! The Grizzlies might even sellout in Boston. In Memphis, the Grizzlies might set a record for lowest attendance in the modern era if such a record exists and 'modern era' is aritrarily defined. 

    As a result, there will continue to be questions about the viability of an NBA franchise in Memphis and whether owner Michael Heisley is going to sell the team to an owner that will move the team back to the Northwest. 

    Of course, the Grizzlies could be successful in Memphis. It remains to be seen whether they will be successful. If the goal is to test the franchise under the most dire circumstances to see if it can survive, then this season should be a success.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fire Kevin McHale



My biggest hopes for Grizzlies this season: OJ Mayo gets Kevin McHale fired. 


I hope that OJ Mayo outperforms Kevin Love (featured above doing his best Shawn Bradley impression) so that every sports writer across the country has to write a an article next April about what a lop-sided trade the Wolves made and what a genius Chris Wallace is.

It's nothing personal. I'm sure Kevins Love and McHale are fantastic human beings. However, I want the Grizzlies to 'win' something. They aren't going to 'win' in attendance or in the standings. I'm confident that Marc Gasol, Javaris Crittendon, Darrell Arthur, and Michael Heisley's extra cash aren't going to out-perform Pau Gasol. 

I think our best bet at winning something will be the draft day trade with the Timberwolves.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's All Part of the Plan



Commercial Appeal Sports Editor Geoff Calkins sat down with Grizzlies Owner Michael Heisley for a facinating interview.

As always, Heisley seems genuine and reasonable. He sounds like a guy with a plan. In fact, he spends some time talking about this three year plan to get the Grizzlies back to respectability as well as his plans to keep the Grizzlies in Memphis.

I appreciate Heisley's commitment to keeping the team in Memphis, and I can't fault him for admitting that he can't stop another owner from moving the team. As an aside, I liked Bill Simmons' response to the Sonics' 'relocation':
SG: Here's my contribution to the poor Sonics fans: You know the team Kevin Durant plays for right now? I'm never mentioning their "new" name in this column. Ever. For as long as I have it. I'm alternating between these four names …
1. Kevin Durant's Team.
2. The Seattle SloppySeconds
3. The Bennett City Hijackers
4. The Team That Shall Not Be Named
The most interesting part of the Heisley  interview for me, in part because I haven't heard it said explicitly, was Heisley's take on the Grizzlies' efforts to change the tempo at which they play:
MH: No. I'm talking about when we decided to go up-tempo because the fans didn't like the style. I think the slow-tempo team Mike Fratello put out there, when your guards are 30-something guys, you don't run. Because they can't run. I'm not saying Mike Fratello wasn't a slow-tempo guy, I'm saying he won 49 (bleeping) games. When you win 20-something games, it's a lot worse than winning 49 games. And, believe me, it was worse.
Heisley is right. The Grizzlies had players and a system that won 45-50 games per season. Instead of tweaking that system to improve, the Grizzlies upset the established order, and the result has been chaos. 

I would have rather seen the Grizzlies win a playoff game than seen them implement a fast tempo. That tradeoff may be the biggest mistake the Grizzlies have made.

We can only hope that this short term setback (1 year and counting) will generate long term gains that compensate. After all, struggling while these young players develop into stars is all part of the plan. Or are we like a dog chasing cars?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Don't Stop Believin



With the economy spiraling down the drain, there are few reasons to celebrate.


Today I have my first reason to celebrate in a long time. The Grizzlies have won their first game of the 2008-2009 season. Detractors might say that this is only the preseason, but in these uncertain times, we have to make do with less, and look to the small things.

With that in mind, I was looking to the Grizzlies upcoming schedule to see when I thought the Grizzlies might win their first regular season game. In the spirit of Hubie Brown, I thought I'd circle game three at Chicago. It's an away game, and Chicago has more talent and experience than the Grizz. But for all it's talent, Chicago might have less chemistry, and I'm trying to be optimistic.

When do you think the Grizzlies will win their first game? 

Sunday, September 28, 2008

An Open Request of the Memphis Grizzlies

As training camp begins with Media Day on Monday September 29, there will be lots of questions for the Memphis Grizzlies. 


I have one request. 

My request is directed at Michael Heisley, Marc Iavaroni, Chris Wallace, Rudy Gay, OJ Mayo, and everyone involved with the Memphis Grizzlies today or any time throughout this season.

WIN.

I don't care about trading Pau Gasol for Kwame Brown as long as we win.

I don't care about 0-12 in the playoffs as long as we win.

I don't care about the mismanaged 'sale' of the team as long as we win.

I don't care about 2 straight seasons of 22 wins if we win now.

If we win this season, I don't care about the beginning of every season prior when I've raised my hopes because of our 'pontetial' only to have those hopes crushed.

If we win this season, I don't care about the end of every season prior when I've raised my hopes about winning the draft lottery only to have those hopes crushed.

If we don't win, I don't care about developing young talent.

If we don't win, I don't care about anybody's potential.

But if we win, the entire slate is wiped clean.

If we win, I won't have to hang my head around my friends from LA and Detroit. 

If we win, we are not the laughing stock of the NBA (along with the Knicks).


It is time for change we can believe in. 

Win.

Now.

Please.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Coming Down from my Buzz

Apparently, Darrell Arthur did not smoke weed. Perhaps Zach Randolph can help. 


Either way, what I really care about is that Arthur and Randolph, should the Grizzlies trade for him, play better than Pau Gasol did. (Do you think a toke or two before the game would have improved Gasol's defense or slowed him down? Please comment below.) 

Last year sort of felt like a really bad trip. Maybe it's paranoia, but I have this nagging feeling that the team is going to lose 50-60 games this year as well.

Even worse: the Grizzlies might trade for Randolph, who doesn't play defense or win basketball games, but does take away a great deal of salary cap flexibility...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Let's Get High

ESPN broke a story today about Grizzlies rookie Darrell Arthur (and former teamate Mario Chalmers) being caught with Marijuana in their room at a rookie orientation program.


This may result in a suspension and a lecture from Michael Heisley. Personally, I don't care if Arthur smokes weed. Some of my favorite people smoke weed. As long as it doesn't affect his performance on the court, I'd rather Arthur smoke weed, than participate in more dangerous activities like snowboarding or motorcycling.

In fact, the NBA should only test and punish players for using substances that enhance performance or give an unfair advantage. 

Unfortunately, the NBA does repremand players caught using marjuana. My disappointment with Arthur is that he took the risk given that he knew the consequences of getting caught. If you work hard enough to make it to the NBA, you may as well give up weed for 10 years so you don't screw up your shot. 

Other than being suspended, it's not that big of a deal. After all, Damon Stoudamire was caught carrying marijauna wrapped in tin foil though an airport metal detector. If Arthur proves to be a good player and shows some toughness, then a boneheaded move like this won't mean anything. There are many great players who have been caught doing much worse.

In the meantime, there are some amusing comments from fans over at the Commercial Appeal.

On a completely unrelated note: In an earlier post, I mentioned that John Hollinger is the only good writer at ESPN. The folks at ESPN must be reading my blog because they responded today with one of the worst chats I have ever read

Who is this David Thorpe guy? Does he think it is funny or informative when he answers questions with 'Zzzzzz'? If he doesn't like the question, perhaps he could pick another and provide some actual insight. Or maybe he doesn't have any insight to provide. 

Here's another example of an exchange: 

josh (paris, France): Denver is rebuilding some are saying... Iverson (in his juicy final contract year) could be on the move in the next few months ? 

David Thorpe: I agree. 

I don't get to read these chats often because they are usually exclusive to folks who pay for an ESPN Insider Membership. If the editors at ESPN think I'm going to pay for this crap, they must be smoking weed.

Monday, September 01, 2008

200:1

Those are the odds that the Grizzlies will win the NBA Championship next season according to the sports book at Reno, NV's Silver Legacy Casino.


I didn't place a bet.

The Grizzlies, along with Oklahoma City, had the worst chance. New York's odds were 100:1, and I *think* the Wolves came in at 150:1.

Pau Gasol's Lakers have the best odds: 12:5. If you're in Reno, I recommend sticking to the Blackjack tables.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Some Rumors to Pass the Time

Ron Tillary posted some Grizz rumors at the Memphis Edge today. I thought I might dust off the keyboard and comment on them. What are fan blogs for if not commenting on trade rumors?


The rumor with the potential to have the biggest impact on the Grizzlies involved Zach Randolph. Tillery reports that the Grizzlies are considering a package that includes Darko Milicic. 

Giving up Milicic isn't a problem. By John Hollinger's* Player Efficiency Rating, Darko is the 48th 'best' center in the league. That's 2 positions above Kwame Brown, and 21 positions below Stromile Swift for those of you keeping score. While PER isn't the final authority on a player's value, directionally, it's a decent indicator of whether a player is good or bad. Anyway, I don't think there's much of an argument that Milicic is good. He'd be a perfect fit in NYC.

The real costs here are:
  1. Zach Randolph is egregiously overpaid with a max contract.
  2. His biggest weakness is also the Grizzlies' biggest weakness: defense.
  3. He loses basketball games with unmatched efficiency.
If the Grizzlies are going to continue to lose (and they are), they may as well do it without paying for Zach Randolph.

The second rumor involved Travis Outlaw. According to Tillery, Mike Conley is a dealbraker in that scenario. 

I like Outlaw, but I can't blame the Grizzlies for not wanting to give up Conley for him. Outlaw is an upgrade at power forward, but I'm not sure he's got as much upside as Conley five years into his career.

*John Hollinger is the best (perhaps only good) NBA writer at ESPN. 

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Grizzlies Don't Add Josh Smith to the Team

It's been a while since there has been an update at DavidLovestheGrizzlies. Frankly, there hasn't been much Grizzlies news to report on. But that changed briefly yesterday.

The Grizzlies failed to add Josh Smith to the team yesterday when the Hawks matched the Grizzlies' offer to the restricted free agent.

It has been suggested that this was strictly a PR move (eg Chad Ford), and the Grizzlies were confident that the Hawks would match the offer. 

It's probably true that the Grizzlies were confident the Hawks would match their offer. That said the Grizzlies have incentive to drive up Smith's value so the Hawks don't get Smith for less than he's worth. The Grizzlies need as few teams as possible with the salary cap flexibilty to compete with them for other free agents.

Also, I believe the Grizzlies wouldn't have extended the offer to Smith if they weren't happy to add him to the team. Even if they were confident the Hawks would match, they couldn't guarantee it 100%.

Finally, I don't think the Smith signing, or attempted signing, works as a PR move. It's not going to fill any seats or win any games. I don't care what their motivation is for extending an offer to Smith. I only care what the result was. They didn't add anybody to the roster or improve the team, but I hope they keep trying.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Marc Gasol Signs with Grizzlies

By now, you probably know Marc Gasol signed with the Grizzlies. 


I'm no Gasol hater. I hate the Gasol trade though I agree Gasol needed to be traded.

With that said, signing Gasol gives the Grizzlies another opportunity to prove me and everyone else in the world wrong about the trade. 

I have to admit that I don't really have any idea how to project Gasol's impact.

In fact, with Gasol, Hakim Warrick, Darko Milicic, Darrell Arthur, and Antoine Walker anchoring the Grizzlies' front line, there a lot of questions yet to be answered. 

Which of those players can provide more than 20 minutes of offense and defense? The older Gasol provided about 30 minutes of consistent offense and 5 minutes of consistent defense.

I look forward to finding out what the second Gasol can do.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Grizz Draft a Success

THE ROOKIES


The Grizzlies didn't get Michael Beasley, but the draft was still a success.

Key Takeaway: OJ Mayo + Darrell Arthur have a better chance of being more valuable than Mike Miller + Kevin Love.

They traded for the player with the third highest chance of being a star in OJ Mayo without giving up Michael Conley, who has the second highest potential of the returning Grizzlies, or Rudy Gay, who is on his way to being a star.

Additionally, they were able to maximize the value of their 28th pick by acquiring Darrell Arthur, a player that slipped due to misinformation about a kidney ailment.

The only value they lost was Kevin Love, who has an excellent chance to be good but not a great chance of being a star, and Mike Miller, who will probably be a zero-time All Star. Miller was a valuable trade asset because he was well regarded by other teams, but his defense was suspect, and has shot 68 for 170 from the field in 20 career playoff games. Plus, he didn't even drink the beer I bought for him pictured below moments before being discarded.


The Grizzlies jumped on the opportunity to use Miller to get Mayo, and I think it's a great use of Miller's value.

MARKO JARIC

Less significant, but also good for the Grizzlies were the asterisks involved in the deal. Marko Jaric can contribute on the court or serve as a trade asset whereas Cardinal is worthless until his contract year, when he becomes an expiring contract. Jaric has some potential to contribute on the court while Cardinal and Collins struggle to contribute even on a team as terrible as the Grizzlies.

ANTOINE WALKER

Antoine Walker is less likely to make significant contributions, though I still think there is an outside chance he can play better than he has the last two seasons.

I am fond of Walker, who I followed when attending school in Boston during his best years as a Celtic. My opinion of him then was that his quickness and ability to finish in the lane allowed him to dominate in the post with his back to the basket.

His biggest problem is he is a medicre-to-average outside shooter who thinks he's Reggie Miller. If he had the discipline to play to his strengths, I think he could have added a couple of All Star appearances to his resume. That said, his role for the Grizzlies will be a post injury Damon Stoudemire role. In fact, he may be bought out like Stoudemire.

GREG BUCKNER

Greg Buckner fills a gaping hole in the roster left by Aaron McKie.

SUMMARY

We don't know who got the better end of the Grizzlies' moves, but, unlike the Gasol trade, based on the current state of the Grizzlies, they made great moves. Only time will tell if the moves improved the team.

I'm happy with Heisley, Wallace, et al's work. They are still responsible at the end of the day for building a winning team, and from my perspective, they made a move that has a great chance of puting them in position to improve the team. They will still be responsible if Mayo doesn't pan out and the Grizzlies are still terrible, but I won't blame them.

(On the flip side, if they draft the next Michael Jordan with the Lakers' 2010 pick, the Gasol deal is still the wrong move at the time even though they become a success because of it.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Guarded Optimisim

The Grizzlies acquired OJ Mayo last night. It's not the homerun that everyone was hoping for, but it's also not the usual crap we've come to expect. If the Grizzlies had stood pat with Love, I would have been disappointed (though I expect Love is solid).

I'm happy the Grizzlies made the deal. Mayo could turn out to be a star. The chances are great that he'll be better than Kevin Love. The question is whether he'll be better than Love and Miller. I'm not sad to see Miller go, but as with Gasol, Miller was a valuable trade asset.

Trading for Darrell Arthur seems like a no brainer. The 28th pick usually doesn't pan out, and selecting Arthur seems like a solid way to maximize the chances that the 28th pick will turn into value.

The Grizzlies have given me optimism from what promised to be an uninteresting night. Regardless of whether Mayo and Arthur turn into the players we hope, I think the Grizzlies did a solid job on draft night.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

ByeBye La Bomba



I remember like it was yesterday when we met at $2.75 pint night at the Flying Saucer.

Next thing I know, I'm hearing Chris Vernon tell our General Manager he's signed a 5 year deal with F.C. Barcelona, which has produced such standouts as almost NBA champion Pau Gasol, almost NBA player Marc Gasol, and almost two year veteran Juan Carlos Navarro.

I'm not worried however, because I know the Grizzlies are going to extend a qualifying offer to JCN. That way, in five years, when La Bomba is 33 and through with his Spanish contract, we can sign him!

If you're interested in seeing Navarro's stats, you may want to visit this page. I'm not sure how much longer it will be available, but apparently, JCN's birthday was on June 13th. Five days later, he signed a $25 million contract. Happy Birthday La Bomba!

Next time we meet, it's your turn to buy the beer.

Monday, June 16, 2008

David Loves the Grizzlies

I have recently received feedback that davidlovesthegrizzlies.com has been a bit of a downer. In response I can only say that it's been tough to be optimistic given recent Grizzlies history.

That said, I thought it would be worthwhile to review some of the good basketball achievements the Grizzlies have made during their stay in Memphis. Doing so doesn't excuse the current state of affairs or the bleak outlook, but it does perhaps provide some perspective about what can happen to turn things around.

This list isn't exhaustive, but here are a few solid moves that stand out in my mind.

  • Hiring Hubie Brown: Brown is a class act, and took the franchise from lottery to playoffs.

  • Hiring Jerry West: West's tenure wasn't a success by the standard he sets as basketball exec. However, the Grizzlies should be commended for pursuing (and successfully de-retiring) the greatest exec in NBA history, even if he didn't turn out to be the greatest in the twilight of his career.

  • Trading for Rudy Gay: Time will tell how good a move West's last significant player personnel change was. So far, the outlook is promising.

  • Drafting Pau Gasol: 2001 turned out to be a deep draft, but Gasol is as good as anyone taken behind him. Anointing Gasol the franchise and awarding him with a max contract was a mistake, but Grizzlies wouldn't have been better off with Jason Richardson, Richard Jefferson, or Zach Randolph. Besides, if the Grizzlies hadn't drafted Gasol, they couldn't have turned him into salary cap flexibility 8 years later. Then, where would we be?

  • Achieving 4th best record in the Western Conference (2006): The Grizzlies' history might be different if they had played the LA Clippers with home court advantage in the first round of the 2006 playoffs. 2006 wasn't their best season by record, but in terms of relative position by rank, the Grizzlies finished as close to the top as they have, above teams like the Lakers and the Kings. The Grizzlies finished 3 games behind the NBA Champion Miami Heat, who coasted to 2nd place in the East against a weak conference. Instead of playing the Clippers, who tanked their way to two games behind the Grizzlies, Memphis was swept by Dallas, who had won 11 more Games than the Grizz, and lost to the Heat in the Finals.
NBA Commissioner David Stern says the playoff format should allow the best teams to advance. Davey: In the words of Vice President Dick Cheney,"Go Fuck Yourself."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pipe Dreams

According to Wikipedia: "A pipe dream is a fantastic hope or plan that is generally regarded as being nearly impossible to achieve."

That's right, GENERALLY REGARDED.

Examples include:

  • A Dream of winning the NBA draft lottery.
  • A Dream of trading for Michael Beasley.
By the way, Mr. Wallace, if you can pull off a trade for Michael Beasley, by all means, please step off of the Love Train. If Beasley doesn't pan out, you can put that one on me.

This is a dilemma that won't keep me up at night.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

3 Shade of Verno

My fellow Grizzlies' masochists (Verno, 3shadesofblue) have been up in arms over some comments from Grizz part time owner Michael Heisley about the Gasol trade (reported by Adrian Wojnarowski).

To summarize:

  • Wojnarowski interviewed Heisley about the Gasol trade.
  • Heisley admitted that the Grizz may have not received the best value for Gasol.
  • Wojnarowski and later GM Chris Wallace went on Verno's show, where Verno ripped Heisley for questioning Wallace's due diligence.
  • Heisley called 3shadesofblue, who then reported that Heisley has full faith in Wallace and does not question Wallace's work.
  • Verno accused 3shadesofblue of pandering to the owner.
  • 3shadesofblue defended their report of Heisley's defense.
One good thing has come out of this. It's a lot more entertaining than talking about which Drew Gooden and Javaris Crittenton caliber players the Grizzlies are going to draft at 5 and 28.

Recently deemed one of the 50 greatest Grizzlies blogs of all time, I think it's time for davidlovesthegrizzlies to throw it's opinion in the ring in the form of a bulleted list:
  • Based on my reading of what Heisley said, It doesn't seem like Heisley believes the Grizzlies made a mistake and that any mistake was Wallace's fault.
  • I think Heisley was admitting what is true of every trade: you never know if you could have gotten a better deal.
  • Heisley is pleased with the trade, and knew what he was getting himself into.
  • Both Heisley and Wallace are delusional to think this was a good trade.
  • They have large balls for pulling it off, and I hope to god that, despite themselves, they are able to turn this thing around.
In summary two points about my friends (friends in the 'I don't know them personally' sense):
  1. Verno: I don't think Heisley threw Wallace under a bus, though I'll grant he certainly left himself open to that interpretation out of context. (I thought he was working on his 'media relations'.)

    It seems to me that he's completely satisfied (insane) with the deal and Wallace's work, but that he admits you can never be certain, and he chose his words poorly.

  2. 3SOB: Heisley is not to be blamed for Jason Williams being a dipshit. He cannot control everything that happens. However, like any CEO, he is responsible for everything that happens, including whatever Williams did for example.

    It's Heisley's responsibility to make the Grizzlies a success through his own actions and by bringing in people to act for him, from management down to the players. Its his responsibility to ensure Williams is of good character, punish him when he's bad, or ensure he doesn't do something moronic (or have someone [ie a general manager] do it for him).

    Starting with the 2006 playoffs, by any measure, except those of public service, he is a failure.
Poor word choice is the least of Heisley's problems.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Who Cares? (Or Why I Don't Give a Shit About the Draft.)

I'm not excited about the upcoming draft. You won't find an analysis of the top prospects here.

Call me a pessimist, but I've been through this before.

For every Dwayne Wade, there are 2 dozen Shelden Williams and Raymond Feltons. Maybe Williams and Felton will turn out ok. But they didn't have a huge impact in their rookie years, and they're more likely to become a run of the mill NBA journeyman than an important piece of the puzzle.

Then, there's always the Nikoloz Tskitishvili scenario...

Whether it's Felton or Tskitishvili, there's almost no chance any player the Grizzlies pick at #5 will lead the Grizzlies out of the cellar. Drafting Dwayne Wade is even less likely than getting the top pick in the lottery.

I'm reading that OJ Mayo may have star potential, but even if he does, how long will we have to wait? Rudy Gay took a full season to show signs of stardom. Haven't we waited long enough?

The only scenario that peaks my interest is the possibility that the Grizzlies will trade a few players (eg Miller, Lowry, and Mayo) to the Heat for Michael Beasley. However, it seems more likely that Anthony Randolph is the next Chris Bosh.

So here's what everyone should expect on June whatever date it is:

The Grizzlies will draft someone who has a 'ton of potential'. He'll be the next (insert former 5 time allstar here). We'll get pumped up about him while we wait three months for the season to start. We'll wonder why he doesn't look like Michael Jordan playing against the scrubs in the Vegas Summer League. When the season starts, he'll show some promise. He may hit the twenty point mark against the Timberwolves. At the end of the season, he'll average about 12 points in 25 minutes, and the jury will still be out on whether he's the next Rudy Gay or another Drew Gooden.

Rinse and repeat.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Fallout, Part 1

Here are some what ifs to make you feel worse:

  • If the Grizzlies had kept Pau Gasol, perhaps they could have traded him to Chicago for the draft pick instead of giving LA the championship. Maybe not, but wouldn't they have a really nice bargaining chip at this point?
  • Minnesota, which beat the Grizzlies in a coin toss, moved up one position, instead of down two like the Grizzlies (when you consider the Grizzlies tied for the third worst record but are drafting 5th).
  • Now that the Grizzlies don't have sure bet, we get to see if this cap room experiment will pay off. Can Wallace build a winner through some incredible drafting, trading, and signing? Can Iavaroni do something with what he's got?

Let's just say it lived up to my expectations.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Getting Excited...

...For the worst day of the Grizzlies pitiful season: May 20, 2008, when the NBA selects the order of the draft via lottery.

This time of year I get nostalgic.

For this time last year.

When Greg Oden and Kevin Durant were our saviors.

And then they weren't.

Wasn't that fun? Last year Greg Oden and Kevin Durant turned into Mike Conley. This year Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose turn into Kevin Love. The world keeps turning, and the more things change, the more they stay the same.

At least it can't get worse than turning Pau Gasol into Kwame Brown.

Oh yeah, and cap space.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Iavaroni In

It's been a while since I posted. I've still been following Grizzlies news from my favorite sources (Here, here, and here), but I have been trying not to think too much about the Grizzlies other than that.

The only news is that Marc Iavaroni is returning as coach. That's not a bad move. Still, I don't understand why many other media personalities (eg Geoff Calkins and Chris Vernon, both of whom do great work) continually berated Michael Heisley for not fully supporting Iavaroni.

I understand that coaches need the respect of their players, and if there's a perception that Iavaroni's job is vulnerable that respect may be undermined. However, I think Iavaroni's performance did more to undermine respect. It's not like Iavaroni did a stand up job, and Heisley should be on his knees in praise.

Nobody can fault Heisley from questioning whether to bring Iavaroni back. I appreciate that Heisley didn't throw full support behind Iavaroni while he reviewed his performance. In my mind, that demonstrates that Heisley is the straight shooter he always says that he is. If he'd brought in Larry Brown after supporting Iavaroni, everyone would have called him a liar.

What's disconcerting to me are reports that Heisley hadn't made a decision until he spoke with Iavaroni, but then agreed that Iavaroni would return during the meeting. If I was in his position and I had doubts about whether to bring back Iavaroni, I wouldn't have taken a day or two to consider the meeting. You never make the decision during the meeting.

In the full body of mistakes that Heisley has been building of the years, this is quite small. What's really important here is that my prediction - that Iavaroni will be judged on the first 2 months of next season - still may be right.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Memphis Grizzlies-Where Amazing Happens

To celebrate the Grizzlies' season, I created this video inspired by the NBA's best marketing campaign that doesn't include Michael Jordan. I hope you enjoy it.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Who's Optimistic About Next Season?

I think I have seen this article in one form or another every season:

http://www.nba.com/grizzlies/features/grizzlies_looking_to_finish_strong-080415.html

"Just wait, next year the Grizzlies are really going to turn things around." Last was no different. remember how Tarrance Kinsey was the next Cuttino Mobley?

One year, when Hubie Brown actually turned the team around, this article actually meant something. Does anyone think the "big picture ... seems much brighter these days"?

Monday, April 14, 2008

3shadesofblue Interviews Michael Heisley

Go read this interview now:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

This is truly an amazing piece of journalism from the guys at 3shadesofblue.blogspot.com, and as much credit, if not more, should go to Michael Heisley for agreeing to participate.

This interview, more than any other I've ever read, gives insight into Heisley's thinking.

You learn that despite what the record indicates, he might know what he's doing:

  • He has a plan, and he thinks it will work. He also realizes there's a great deal of luck needed.
  • He knows the Grizzlies are not a success by any metrics (save those related to charitable work) including wins, fans support, profitability, and ability to successfully sell the team.
  • He also points out that while the partnership with the local ownership has not been a success, it's also not as contentious as has been reported. Though the local owners have made similar remarks in the Commercial Appeal, it would be interesting to hear them respond as candidly as Heisley.
  • He has a realistic picture of what he thinks can and will happen. He thinks the Grizzlies can turn a profit and compete. Only time will tell if he's successful or if his honest effort is a good effort.
Two really interesting themes that Heisley returned to throughout were that he hates the media (though he explicitly states he doesn't hate the media) and small market teams are at a disadvantage.

The Media

Heisley clearly dislikes the media's coverage of the Grizzlies. More specifically, he thinks that they don't represent the reality of Grizzlies basketball well. Tangentially, they don't place much emphasis on the Grizzlies' strong charitable work.

Heisley claims to understand that this is the way the world works and admits he did a poor job of navigating the media throughout his tenure. It's also clear that this upsets Heisley outright, and I don't fault him for being upset. I think Heisley's interview with 3shadesofblue goes a long way in helping the public's perception of Heisley, but the reality is that Heisley will always get a bad rap (in part deservedly) until the Grizzlies are a success given the above metrics.

Competitive Advantage in the NBA

Even more interesting is Heisley's take on the disadvantages that come with being a small market team. Heisley clearly articulates that small markets are at a disadvantage because of how revenue sharing works.

He goes on to talk about an initiative that Bobcats owner, Robert Johnson, is undertaking to petition the NBA to change the rules so the playing field is level. While probably a long shot, changes to revenue sharing would provide the Grizzlies with a better chance of success than anything Heisley can orchestrate on a local level.

I challenge Heisley to get actively involved in working on this, and in the meantime, I'm interested to see how Heisley's plan for the Grizzlies turns out.

Thanks to Heisley for taking the time and being candid. This insight gives Grizzlies fans a glimmer of hope and something to talk about during a dismal season.

Here's to hoping for some luck.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Pictures from the Nuggets Grizzlies Game

A picture montage of the Nuggets Grizzlies game. Thanks to Evan for photographing.

The Marquee.



That is a fancy jumbotron, but why do they stretch the image when they're showing the game?



Maybe I will get to see the Grizzlies new big man Kwame Brown.



There he is!



Number 1 vs Number 2



The Future, Brian Cardinal.



For 3.



We almost had Carmelo. Instead we lost our pick to Detroit, who took Darko. Who has Darko now?



Trinh.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Iavaroni Out?

There's been a lot of speculation that Iavaroni is on his way out. Ron Tillery wrote one of his best articles today explaining the situation.

Here's my prediction, and you can trust it. No, I don't have inside sources, but, more significant, I'm number 1 in both my NCAA pools. If Memphis wins the tournament, I'll be the victor.

Iavaroni won't be fired during the offseason. Iavaroni's job depends on the first 20 games of next season. If the Grizzlies make a decent improvement - they don't have to be a playoff team - Iavaroni will stay on. If they maintain this winning percentage or worse, Iavaroni will be gone by Christmas.

There's no rush to fire him. He's not making a ton of money, and Larry Brown doesn't come cheap nor does he work miracles.

In my opinion, Iavaroni hasn't done a great job. I'm basing my astute analysis on the winning percentage and the style of play. By style of play, I mean they don't play defense or pass the ball (please see number of assists).

To be fair, Iavaroni hasn't had much too work with. I was glad Heisley took a chance on Iavaroni. I don't think it would be a mistake to keep him on through the beginning of next season. I also don't think it would be a mistake to mix things up if the right opportunity came along. Hubie Brown showed us that the right coach certainly can make a difference.

Here to hoping Iavaroni is the right coach...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Grizzlies Beat LA

Normally I wouldn't take the time to post about a particular game at this point in such a terrible season. However, the Grizzlies win over LA is the most important win of the season.

The Grizzlies win is so important because the Grizzlies own the rights to the Lakers' draft pick. The top teams in the league have records that very close together. One loss can theoretically mean the difference or three or four positions. Since the draft order is determined by record for playoff teams. A loss for the Lakers could mean a 23rd draft pick as opposed to the 26th pick.

For the Grizzlies, at this point, it's the small things...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Finally!

Something interesting to talk about. (Not that the on court action isn't titillating.)

It seems that the local ownership is at odds with Michael Heisley. To make a long story short, the local owners want to buy the team, but Heisley thinks their offer is too low.

People on both sides think the other is being unreasonable. The tension is escalating, questions about relocation are beginning to surface, and the franchise is spiraling deeper and deeper in to an pile of shit the size of the Pyramid.

For me all of this talk raises a couple of interesting questions.

1. If the local owners aren't going to buy the Grizzlies, then who will?

There can't be many Memphis natives with an interest in owning a sports franchise that both have half a billion to spare and aren't already part of the local ownership group.

2. What does it mean that the Grizzlies can't or won't relocate now?

The local owners lost their right to match any offer in the latest standoff. This opens the way for an outsider to purchase the team. An outsider may have a vision of Memphis in another city. (Are there any billionaires native to the Seattle area?)

Calkins suggests that the Grizzlies can't be moved. (He also writes off those who think differently as ' gloom-and-doomers'.) Calkins says that the Grizzlies can't leave until 2020.

He also says that if the Grizzlies do try to move, Memphis and Shelby County can seek an injunction. Let me get this straight. The Grizzlies can't move, but if they do, we can 'injunct' them.

According to Wikipedia:

An injunction is an equitable remedy in the form of a court order, whereby a party is required to do, or to refrain from doing, certain acts. The party that fails to adhere to the injunction faces civil or criminal penalties and may have to pay damages or accept sanctions for failing to follow the court's order. In some cases, breaches of injunctions are considered serious criminal offences that merit arrest and possible prison sentences or death.

Based on the Grizzlies contract, the injunction would require a fine of over $100 million if they leave before 2012. The Grizzlies are losing $20 million a year in Memphis. Doesn't it make sense to pay the fine and turn a profit elsewhere?

If the Grizzlies can't leave before 2020, why is there an injunction with a fine attached?

It seems to me that the Grizzlies will be able to move for the right price. It's just a matter of whether someone will be willing to pay it.

Let's hope that the Grizzlies transform into a watchable team with a devoted following before then. Let's also hope someone with a disposable income doesn't show interest.

Perhaps the City should have negotiated death as punishment for breaking the injunction. I guess most Memphians wouldn't consider the Grizzlies leaving to be a 'serious offence' at this point.

The Grizzlies and Heisley have put forth some effort into trying make things work. Still, I'm betting that relocation would be exactly in line with what a lot of folks have come to expect from a franchise that has turned out to be quite a disappointment so far.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I Met Juan Carlos Navarro

After the Grizzlies vs JR Smith game on Monday, in which Smith was victorious, (pictures to follow at a later date), I went to $2.50 Pint Night at the Flying Saucer as promised. (It has actually morphed into $2.75 Pint Night since I last attended.)

Unfortunately, I didn't see Kwame Brown there. However, I did see Juan Carlos Navarro, who was nice enough to take a photo.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I Met Mike Miller

I was out at Silky O'Sullivan's on Saturday night, and Mike Miller showed up after the Grizzlies second straight win. They defeated the Kings and Knicks. I bought Mike the beer, Miller Lite, that he's holding in his right hand.

On Monday, I'll be at the game against the Nuggets who are struggling to make the playoffs. Hopefully, the Grizzlies can extend the streak to three. Afterwards, I hope to see Kwame Brown at $2.50 Pint Night at the Flying Saucer.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sam Smith Doesn't Like Me

Sam Smith was on the Geoff and Gary show last week. Sam Smith is an NBA writer who famously writes for the Chicago Tribune, and the Geoff and Gary Show is a Memphis Sports Talk Radio Show.

On the show, Smith admitted that he doesn't like Bloggers. He clarified that he doesn't dislike people who write for blogs. After all, there are many people who are affiliated with respectable organizations like newspapers and other media that write for 'blogs'. Smith was clear that he doesn't like the average joe who 'doesn't go anywhere' and 'comment on the news'.

Although I do leave the house occasionally, I think Sam's comments were aimed at me. After all, I comment on the news, and I don't have a relationship with any organization, or inside contacts from whom I can get a scoop about the Grizzlies.

However, I don't think that means Bloggers are bad or useless. Blogs allow fans like myself to express themselves in a public forum. Bloggers don't report the news. They give a voice to individuals who consume the news. They engage in public discourse.

Reporters report the news and editorialize on the information they report. Blogs provide an medium through which the public can express criticism of that work. This sounds like something healthy to a democratic society to me.

Sure, there are bad bloggers - bloggers that don't offer any insight or perpetuate what's wrong with all media. There are bloggers that are stupid, mean, ignorant, boring, and useless. There are reporters like this too.

That doesn't outweigh the value bloggers bring.

Personally, I enjoy writing about my favorite team. When they are as bad as they are, it can be therapeutic. If you don't think my blog adds any value, please feel free to comment below.

When you're done, you may wish to visit this blog, which is better than mine. Even the worst team in the history of the NBA has good bloggers.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Grizzlies are really bad (against the Warriors)

I went to the Warriors - Grizzlies game in Oakland on Saturday night. The Grizzlies lost by 3, but the game wasn't really as close as the score suggested. The Warriors were definitely mailing this one in.

For Instance, CJ Watson got many minutes over Baron Davis and Monte Ellis. You could also tell the Warriors weren't giving the same effort they do when the big teams are in town.

I will spare you of a detailed analysis. It been covered for numerous other posts about other games. As Chris Vernon has said, the Grizzlies need to fix this team.

I'm excited about seeing the Griz in the Forum against the Nuggets next Monday. Until then, here are some picks from our not so close seats:










Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Is There a Tanking Problem in the NBA?

Steve Aschburner thinks tanking is a problem, and apparently some academics have devised a system for rearranging the draft order such that it incentivizes winning toward the end of the season, instead of losing.

It's true that there is incentive to lose. Your chances of winning the draft lottery improves as you move closer to last place. However, I'd argue that the incentive to tank isn't that strong. Your chance of winning the lottery is still not huge, even if you're the worst team.

Furthermore, there's a difference between planning for the future and trying to lose. Resting you veteran franchise player is strategic if you won't make the playoffs. Giving your young players experience is strategic.

Playing a game with the intention to lose is something completely different, but I'm not sure there's evidence that players and coaches approach any game with the intention of losing.

From my perspective - the perspective of a fan who has followed one of the worst teams closely for several years - I want my team to consider the future, but also make an honest effort at winning.

I haven't seen any effort that the Grizzlies aren't trying the best to win.

According to Aschburner's article, Boston and Memphis, last year's worst teams would finish one and two respectively. This suggests that the worst teams in the league weren't tanking last year.

Finally, I think a bigger problem is how difficult it is to improve your team when you're one of the worst in the league. Parity in the league is reaching new lows, and the same teams are consistently the best. How many teams have won a championship within the past 3 decades?

Philadelphia, Boston, LA, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, San Antonio. Am I missing any?

I think a bigger problem than tanking is how difficult it is for terrible teams to get better.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Grizzlies Adding Value to Season Tickets

There's not much hope that the Grizzlies will be a very good team next year, or much fun to watch.

However, the Grizzlies are making season ticket deals more attractive for fans.

You can read all about the details at the Commercial Appeal. If I lived in Memphis, I'd definitely buy season tickets.

In fact, while I was checking out season ticket pricing, I was amazed to see how cheap they were.

I can't believe you can sit in the closest section outside of the floor for $7,605 per season. I was checking out tickets for the Warriors (my closest team), and saw you can buy single game tickets for $1700. I assume those are on the floor, but Grizzlies tickets by comparison are $667.

Granted, I'm comparing one of the poorest NBA markets to one of the richest. Still, you can't say the Grizzlies are grossly overcharging. (OK, based on their record, I guess you could make that case.)

The point is that, compared with other NBA ticket prices, these ticket prices aren't astronomical. They aren't what you expect to pay when you go to an NBA game. (Of course, the Grizzlies don't play like you'd expect an NBA team to play either.)

On a slightly unrelated note, I've been listening to Chris Wallace on the Chris Vernon Show. I have to say that Wallace sounds like he knows what he's talking about. He seems to genuinely believe that what he's doing will turn the team around.

He also seems very down to earth. He's not unrealistic about how terrible the team is or how difficult it will be to turn them around.

To summarize:

  1. The Grizzlies seem to be making a concerted effort to turn things around.
  2. They're making a strong effort to make tickets attractive even when the team is terrible.
  3. They need to turn their efforts into wins next season. Otherwise, concerted translates to failed.
  4. The Pau Gasol trade was a terrible deal.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Calkins is Right

I couldn't have said it better myself.

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/feb/27/certain-empty-feeling-with-nba-franchise/

I will support / root for / watch / read about / write about the team no matter what (unless they leave Memphis), and I'll attend every game a Bay Area transplant can attend.

But in my business, we use metrics to judge how well we are doing our jobs. The two most important metrics to judge Michael Heisley's job performance are wins and ticket sales.

I'd say he's doing a terrible job so far.

But cut him a break, he's only had the better part of a decade.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Watching the Cavs / Grizzlies Now

This may be fairly obvious, but I was just noticing something while watching the Grizzlies game. (Does watching the game make me a masochist?)

Kwame Brown + Darko Milicic + Jason Collins = Terrible

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Grizzlies Stay Put At Trade Deadline

The Grizzlies are finally entering that time of year where other teams think about playoff positioning while they consider which pick they might get during the draft.

They didn't make a move at the trade deadline. (That's right, they didn't do anything. Not a peep.) Many rumors predicted that Mike Miller or Kyle Lowry might be moved, but the Grizzlies opted to go to war with the army they have, and I'm not one to complain. After all, last time the Grizzlies made a move, it didn't turn out so great.

So what is there to talk about in this blog?

That is a good question.

1. We could talk about how much potential the Grizzlies have. They have some young talented players, and now they have some financial flexibility. However, writing a new post on future potential wouldn't be as easy as just clicking one of the links to an earlier post that says the same thing.

2. We could talk about all the great prospects in the up coming draft. I remember thinking about that last year as well. Then it came to bite me in the ass. My girlfriend says she hasn't seen me as upset as I was on the day the draft order was announced.

3. We could talk about the chances that the Grizzlies will leave Memphis, but that's just seems depressing. That's about the only thing I can think of that would make this situation worse. Anyway, I don't want to hunt down the stipulations just so I can make some uneducated guesses about how Heisley is going to screw Memphis next.

4. We could talk about what a terrible business Michael Heisley is running. I guess even billionaires run a few into the ground. Again, this seems like a dead horse that's been beat to a bloody pulp.

5. We could talk about how exciting all the other teams are with their new looks. How does davidlovesthesuns.com sound?

6. We could talk about what a downer this blog is. I guess that's what happens when your team is the worst in the league going on 15 years (with a brief period of merely mediocre to spice things up). At least, we're not the Knicks.

I am open to suggestions. What is a good topic for a Memphis Grizzlies blog?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Life After Gasol

It's been almost a week after Gasol was traded for cap space, so here are a few reflections.

First, Gasol needed to go. Few were sorry to see him go. He's been a true professional in Memphis with the exception of his ill-advised trade request halfway through a season he started late due to injury. He's also a offensive big man. However, he's not the leader the Grizzlies need to get to the next level. Last year, sports writers said that the Grizzlies awful start was the result of Gasol missing the first 20 games. But when he cam back, they didn't improve, did they?

I've been back and forth about trading Gasol over the years, but I'm convinced now (after reading analysis and Wallace's own comments) that it was the right thing to do.

Gasol will be a great 2nd or 3rd man for the Lakers.

With that said, was this a good trade? There are two parts to the trade: Aaron McKie and Kwame Brown's expiring contracts, and 4 young prospects.

First the young prospects - Wallace has said that he got 4 first rounders out of this deal. What he's not saying is that these are four late first rounders, which aren't that difficult to come by. The Grizzlies have no trouble acquiring solid contributors like Crittenton. In order to turn those four prospects into a great value, one of those four players will have to emerge as a very good player, and it's difficult enough turning high draft picks (read: Brown and Milicic) into very good players.

Turning low draft picks into good players requires exceptional scouting and a lot of luck (though there are numerous examples of All Stars coming out late in the first round).

The expiring contracts are also valuable to the extent that Wallace is skilled and lucky. Wallace has given himself flexibility by giving up a valuable trade asset. Now, the onus is on him to turn that flexibility into more than just help with the bottom line.

The two big challenges now are for Wallace to identify what players will help Memphis win, and get those players in a Grizzlies uniform. For whatever reason, Wallace thought financial flexibility would allow him to do that more easily that brokering a trade involving Gasol.

Now he's got to prove it.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Grizzlies Trade for Stephon Marbury; Management Reacts

Ever since they bought out Damon Stoudamire's contract, the Grizzlies have been missing veteran leadership in the locker room. In an effort to shore up that leadership, they have traded Rudy Gay and Michael Conley for Stephon Marbury.

In a press conference on Saturday, Marc Iavaroni said that he liked Marbury's fearlessness. 'Marbury's not afraid to take the big shot at the end of the game. He knows how to play this game and he fits well into our system.'

Wallace added 'The Marbury trade really gives us some flexibility for the future. Marbury is going to teach Javaris Crittenton how to be an elite point guard in this league. Then at some point, Marbury's contract will expire. Think about that for a minute.'

Reached by phone, Majority owner Michael Heisley stated, 'I'm not going to be influenced by public opinion.'

He added: 'We want to try to develop a team along the lines that Phoenix has done -- more crowd-pleasing and upbeat, and we have a better chance to do that with Marbury. He played in Phoenix, and he's a quality guy and a great leader in the locker room."

'Listen', Heisley reiterated, 'I'm the owner, and Wallace is the general manager. I'm not making the basketball decisions, and I'm not selling the team, but if the right buyer came along, I'm listening. I mean I'm not going to refuse to sell to someone who overpays for this franchise, but I really think someone who lives in Memphis should own it. The problem is I don't want to live in Memphis, and the people in Memphis who can afford to buy it don't want to over pay. We're not having a fire sale here.'

When asked where this addition put the Grizzlies' plans for rebuilding, Wallace emphasized,'We have a lot of nice pieces and Iavaroni has a long term vision for this club. If we continue to save cut payroll, we're going to have a lot of money to work with during the summer of 2013. That puts us in a good position to really develop our players to the point where we'll be competing with the best teams in 2014 - 2015. I see us as the Phoenix Suns of 2015.'

What Happened to 'No Fire Sale for Gasol'?

Since my last post, I've been thinking more about the Gasol trade. I remember last year when Gasol demanded a trade, Jerry West and Michael Heisley said there'd be 'no fire sale'. They weren't giving Gasol away for nothing.

...

One year later...

...

Hmmm

According to the rumors, they turned down Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Andres Nocioni, Tyrus Thomas, Josh Smith, Amare Stoudemire, and others. Apparently there were multiple offers, including offers that included draft picks and standing offers from teams like Atlanta.

Instead they traded for one of the worst players in the league and a draft pick that's all but guaranteed to be in the range of 20 - 30.

Looks like a 'fire sale' to me. Looks like the Grizzlies gave Gasol away for nothing except salary cap flexibility.

My question is why accept that offer? Was there really no better offer? Minnesota was able to get a better deal even after Boston, their trade partner, had dumped players to get Ray Allen. We got no promising players or draft picks.

Were those other packages not available? Was there no young exciting player that could be packaged with expiring contract? Would love to hear more about the reasoning behind holding a fire sale for Gasol.

ByeBye Gasol & Swift

You can't say they're afraid to try something new.

I'm not sad to see Gasol leave, though I think he's a great player. Instead, I'm sad that I'm not excited about what we're getting in return.

If I was the Lakers, I'd be excited about getting Gasol. Gasol can immediately help the Lakers compete with the best teams in the league. Wouldn't it be great to have a game changing player coming to join our squad?

Any benefit to the Grizzlies won't be realized until next season at the earliest. The Grizzlies are betting on being able to sign a big name free agent during the summer with the cap space they've freed up. However, there's no guarantee that any big name free agent will want to sign with the Grizzlies.

If no star is signed, then the Grizzlies come away with a better bottom line and a late first round draft pick. That pick could turn into a good player, but not a good player that is likely to increase wins next season. In other words, we could be waiting years for this trade to return any benefit, and there's no guarantee this trade will ever benefit the team.

On the other hand, the Lakers, barring a career ending injury or the unlikely event that Gasol is unable to integrate, will receive immediate returns.

Let's just hope Wallace is ready for the months ahead. He and Iavaroni have created the flexibility to go their own direction. They've bet the franchise that they'll be able to make their vision work. If they don't it will look like a terrible trade. If they do, I'll be thankful that they had the balls to put everything on the line.

Finally, perhaps this deal makes the franchise more affordable or more desirable for someone looking buy the team. That's the type of change that may make this deal worth it. If we can bring a visionary owner on that will turn the team around, no one will remember that 2008 was the year we collected disappointing top 3 draft picks.

PS I would've made the Lakers take Cardinal, even if it meant bringing in a third team to make the salaries work.