Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Calkins is Right

I couldn't have said it better myself.


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...



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.