Saturday, November 20, 2010

Still Grizzly After All These Years

I've been putting off writing about the Grizzlies partly due to competing priorities in my personal life and partly because I'm losing interest in writing about the Grizzlies.


I still follow all the news. For example, within hours of Acie Law missing the Grizzlies' flight to Denver, I was reading about his release at the dog park in my Twitter feed via Pete Pranica, Chris Vernon, and The Commercial Appeal.

I also still watch the games on NBA League Pass. I even splurged for tickets to a game at the Forum over the Thanksgiving Holiday. It will likely be the only game I see in person this year, and I came away disappointed even though the Grizzlies won. I didn't expect these Grizzlies to scrape out a victory at home against the Warriors sans David Lee.



Here was my view for the 1 game I'll attend in person this season. At home, the Grizz almost blew it to a Warriors team that was missing its best post player.

Despite watching the games and following the news I can't get excited about writing about any number of Grizzlies topics this year, including:
  • The improvement of Rudy Gay and Mike Conley
  • The struggles of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph
  • OJ Mayo's move the bench
  • The disappointment of Tony Allen
  • Wins over Miami and the Lakers
  • The tough early schedule
  • The regression of Sam Young (from sometimes good to always bad)
  • The regression of Hasheem Thabeet (from terrible to worse than terrible)
  • The regression of Demarre Carroll (Who is Damarre Carroll again?)
Any of these are worthy topics for one of the top 50 Grizzlies blogs of all time.

But these topics seem unimportant at this point. These all pale in comparison to what's at the front of my mind: the Grizzlies are exactly what everyone (Grizzlies & fans excluded) expected them to be, a mediocre basketball team.


This guy is a complete joke. I really feel sorry for him, but he has become a symbol for the Grizzlies' failures.

This team is just plain bad. They are the type of team that might make the playoffs if it weren't for all the other teams getting better all the time.

Owner, Michael Heisley, and the Management team, led by General Manager Chris Wallace seem to expend all of their energy trying to convince the public that the 'young core' is exciting and will improve at some point in the future.

These efforts seem to come at the expense of actually improving the team. Instead of fielding a team that is in the top half of the league's teams, the organization is determined to convince everyone that things aren't as bad as they seem. Meanwhile, the team continues to lose. The acquisitions and draft picks are more often than not a disappointment, and the arena sits half empty for almost every game.

This theme -that the Grizzlies are a complete and utter disappointment- has dominated the Grizzlies for most of their 10 years in Memphis. If team's performance is this consistently bad for the next 10 years, even the most passionate Grizzlies fans will stop caring about any of the stories Heisley and his Admins are peddling. I hope someone miraculously turns this ship around sooner than that.

In the meantime, I'll try to do my part by giving voice to one Grizzly fan's disgust.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

#Leh'Goooo!!!!!!!!!

I just finished watching Cavs vs Grizzlies. From December 8, 2009. Does that move me to the fringe of Grizzlies fans?


How could you not save this game on your DVR? This was the turning point in the season. When the top-ranked Cavs lost in Overtime to Memphis. When Haddadi "dunked that shit" on Shaq. When Haddadi hip-checked LeBron James across the Fedex Forum parquet.



About halfway through the third quarter I realized that I may have a problem. It's been a little over a week since I dropped a few dollars on some tickets to see the Grizz over Thanksgiving. I'm calling Comcast twice a week trying to order NBA League Pass. (Of course, NBA LP isn't 'in the system yet.) And now I'm watching games from a year ago like it's reruns of Law & Order.

If this is my excitement level after 10 seasons of playoff sweeps and lottery nightmares, then I think I might die if they actually have a winning season.

As Hasheem Thabeet might say, "#Leh'Goooo #Niceeeee".

Monday, October 11, 2010

10 Years in the Making

As we hit the mid-way point of the Grizzlies' preseason, one question comes to mind: "Who is the ugliest person on the Grizzlies' 10 year anniversary collage?"



Personally, I think the artist has a bias towards Stromile Swift, but I have to give him/her credit for finding a bad likenesses even for the most handsome Grizzly. (Eddie Jones, you know who you are.) I couldn't have done better if I had searched for "Memphis Grizzlies Open Mouth" on Google Images, but I guess they didn't want Jake Tsakalidis to stand out.

Two follow up questions might be: "Where is Hamed Haddadi?" and "Why are Chris Wallace and Jerry West smiling?"

This is why I'm here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Michael Heisley Enjoys Provocative Kids

One day Michael Heisley won't be the owner of the Grizzlies. I hope that when that day comes, the Grizzlies remain in Memphis and aren't so run into the ground that no one with enough talent is willing to build the franchise back up.


God, he blew it.

In the meantime, we are resigned to moments like Monday's Chris Vernon Show, when Heisley joined Vernon for a half hour discussion about Xavier Henry's contract negotiations, how to run an NBA franchise, and whether the Grizzlies' organization was filled with yes men.

If you want to know exactly what Heisley said, go to Vernon's blog and listen. You can also download it at Itunes under 'chrisvernonshow'. (It's also worth listening to Vernon's interview last Thursday with Coach Lionel Hollins. In the interview, Hollins sounds just like Heisley, on Opposite Day.)

My key takeways from the interview are below. Some of the statements are pure speculation on my part. (I did not check the facts!) If you find these bullets unbelievable, then listen to the entire interview, linked above, and decide for yourself:
  • Chris Wallace is a yes man.
  • Lionel Hollins is not a yes man.
  • Hakim Warrick is not a yes man.
  • Arn Tellum is not a yes man.
  • Tony Barone is a yes man.
  • Jerry West was not a yes man.
  • Jerry West encouraged Heisley to draft Hasheem Thabeet.
  • Xavier Henry did not attend Summer Camp.
  • Heisley has not read the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  • Heisley pays other people to read the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  • Heisley had more influence on the Allen Iverson signing that other personnel moves.
  • Heisley makes a lot of messes in his life.
  • Heisley doesn't care how the other NBA owners conduct their business.
  • Heisley isn't trying to please the press.
  • Heisley thinks Chris Vernon is provocative.
  • Heisley thinks Chris Vernon is a kid.
  • Heisley enjoys Chris Vernon.
  • Heisley enjoys provocative kids.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Grizzlies' Contract Dispute with Xavier Henry is Idiotic

The Grizzlies never miss an opportunity to support the narrative that the owner is cheap and the team is poorly managed. We should be celebrating Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol, who are representing their countries in the World Basketball Championships. Instead, the Grizzlies are making headlines as a result of a contract dispute with rookie Xavier Henry and his agent Arn Tellum.


For those who aren't familiar with the situation, here is a brief overview:
  • All 1st Round Picks have guaranteed contracts with only a few provisions that can be negotiated.
  • This dispute is over whether the Grizzlies will pay 120% of Henry's guaranteed salary (the max allowed) or tie payment of the additional 20% to incentives.
  • Most rookies receive 120% or are given basic incentives like Summer League attendance to earn the extra 20%.
  • Some of the Grizzlies' proposed incentives are more difficult to achieve than attendance.
  • The Grizzlies are publicly stating that they want the 20% incentive to motivate Henry.
The Commercial Appeal is reporting that three incentives that Henry must meet to receive the extra 20% include (directly quoted from the CA):
  • Participation in summer league.
  • A two-week workout program with the team's training staff.
  • Satisfying one of the following: play in NBA rookie/sophomore game during All-Star weekend, or earn an all-rookie selection, or average 15 minutes in at least 70 games.
On Chris Vernon's radio show, General Manager Chris Wallace told Vernon that requiring such incentives was "within our rights" and that (paraphrasing) offering a carrot to incentivize performance was a 'best practice'.

On the face, it sounds like the Grizzlies are making a smart move: Use money to motivate players to perform. The only problem is that the science of motivation contradicts the Grizzlies' strategy. Money is not a good motivator for something as complex as making the Rookie team or averaging 15 minutes per game. These aren't goals that Henry can complete using limited cognitive ability.

Thus, there are two options: Either Michael Heisley is incompetent or the Grizzlies are belying their true motivation -- to save money if Henry doesn't pan out -- with the false motive of offering Henry a carrot to perform.


The science says carrots and sticks don't motivate people to perform.

Money is really a great motivator for basic tasks that don't require cognitive skill like showing up to Summer League. However, as Dan Pink explains in his book Drive, summarized in the above video, science shows us that money is a poor incentive to do something as abstract as become a better basketball player. If Henry gets into the rookie game, it won't be because money drove him to do so. That logic is just plain dumb.

According to the video, Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose are the great motivators of performance and success. Top companies set lofty purposes about changing the world to help motivate their employees. The Grizzlies might set a goal like winning an NBA Championship or becoming the best basketball team. Instead, they take every opportunity to frame the discussion about money. Goals are salary cap flexibility or being financially responsible.

As a result, they're perceived as a cheap organization, and they've fostered a culture of losing. As the Grizzlies celebrate their 10th season in Memphis, I hope they reflect on the fact that they've only produced 3 winning seasons and Zero playoff wins. Of course, that won't motivate them to do something a complex as winning some games for the city of Memphis. But maybe it will help them realize that ending this dispute with Henry might help them drive towards a better purpose.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Rudy Gay: How to Earn $80 Million in 5 Seasons

Rudy Gay is about to ink a 5 year, $80 million contract with the Grizzlies.

We can talk about how Gay is being overpaid. About how he hasn't performed at that level in his career. About how he's unlikely to ever live up to his contract.

About how Heisley could have paid less. About how Heisley is repeating mistakes of the past. About how Heisley is unlikely to pay Marc Gasol, who has been better than Gay, or OJ Mayo, who might be better than Gay. About how Heisley clearly has no idea what he's doing.

And we will discuss these points. But what's the rush? We can rehash the latest edition of "Running the Worst Sports Franchise in Besides the Detroit Lions" next season, especially if the Grizzlies miss the playoffs as they have every season Gay has played.

Is this as close as Rudy gets to a star?

However, that's not what I want to talk about now. What I want to talk about now is how Gay can earn his salary.

It's not about his scoring average, his steals, blocks, or dunks. It has nothing to do with how he contributes to the communities of Memphis, Baltimore, or Haiti.

Earning his money also has nothing to do with his shaky 3 point shot, his ball handling, or his alleged ability to pass the ball to teammates.

It has to do with toughness and intensity. Rudy Gay can earn his contract by transforming the culture of this franchise from one of losing to one of winning with toughness and intensity.

Gay needs to be the guy leveling his friend Chris Paul when Paul tries to penetrate into the Grizzlies' paint. Gay must be the guy LeBron James is whining about to refs because Gay is pushing, pulling, and generally disrupting James for 48 minutes.


Kick his ass Rudy. Kick his ass like he just told you: "You ain't worth 80 million cause you never won anything".

When an opponent blows by OJ Mayo, or when Marc Gasol fails to play help defense, Gay should first look at Mayo and Gasol in disgust, and then yell at them during a timeout. And it should make sense because Gay didn't blow an assignment or take a break on defense.

When the referees call Hasheem Thabeet for his 5th foul for looking in Kobe Bryant's general direction, Gay had better be getting a technical before Kobe gets a chance to shoot a free throw. Even if Thabeet did foul him. And he probably did.

When the Grizzlies lose, Gay better be the guy throwing chairs in the locker room and stealing Geoff Calkins' pen.

Whether he deserves it or not, Gay was just awarded the burden of carrying the Memphis Grizzlies to respectability. He's going to battle with a 9-season legacy of losing, an owner who's doing his best to run the franchise into the ground, and a team that's badly under-staffed to challenge the league's best.

He's not going to succeed by sitting back and letting chips fall where the may. He's not going to succeed because he improved his jumpshot or added 10 pounds of muscle.

The only chance Gay has of succeeding establishing himself as toughest guy on the court leaving everything he's got on the floor every night. If Gay can pull it off, it will be $80 million well spent.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chris Wallace's Resume Leaked!

Griz Owner Michael Heisley resigned General Manager Chris Wallace, and it's no wonder why. Says Heisley, "I feel he's done a decent job." And if wasn't enough, Wallace recently reworked his resume to highlight some of his achievements.


An anonymous source close to the organization sent us Wallace's resume, pasted below, with Wallace's contact information removed. As you can see, Wallace's list of accomplishments is a clear indication that he's the best candidate for the job.

CHRISTOPHER WALLACE
901-xxx-xxxx
xxxxxxxx@grizzlies.com
Germantown, TN


PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Memphis Grizzlies
General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations (2007 - Present)
  • Team record Regular Season: 86-160 (.350) / Playoffs: 0-0 (.000)
  • Average Attendance: 13,000 (cap. 18,119)
  • Traded Pau Gasol (2x NBA Champion, 3x NBA All-Star, 2x All-NBA 3rd Team, Rookie of the Year, FIBA World Championship MVP) for Marc Gasol (NBA All-Rookie 2nd Team) and Cash Considerations.
  • Optimized the Draft process by cutting Scouting Department by 100% and reducing the number of top prospects with in-person workouts
  • Drafted Hasheem Thabeet, Kevin Love (traded), Mike Conley, Donte Green (traded), DeMarre Carroll, Sam Young
  • Traded for OJ Mayo (All-Rookie 1st Team), Zach Randolph (1 Time NBA All-Star), Ronnie Brewer, Marko Jaric, Greg Buckner, Antoine Walker, Darrell Arthur, Chris Mihm, Adonal Foyle, Mike Wilks, 3 suitcases of cash, and a conditional 2nd Round Draft Pick
  • Signed Free Agents Darius Miles, Allen Iverson, Jamaal Tinsley, Darko Milicic, Hamed Haddadi
Boston Celtics
General Manager (2000 - 2007)
  • Team record Regular Season: 267-307 (.465) / Playoffs: 16-21 (.432)
  • Average Attendance: 16,382 (cap. 18,624)
  • Drafted Joe Johnson (Traded), Al Jefferson, Delonte West, Tony Allen, Darius Songalia, Randy Foye, Dahntay Jones (Traded), Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Kendrick Brown, Troy Bell (Traded)
  • Traded for Vin Baker, Rodney Rogers, Tony Delk
AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS
  • Named to Sports Illustrated's list of Most Influential Members of the College Basketball Media, 1991

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Why I Cheer Against Pau Gasol

This is the the time of year when it's most difficult to be a Grizzlies fan. It's been over 2 months since the Grizzlies won a game. There's no longer hope that the Grizzlies will miraculously win the Draft Lottery. (Or win the second pick and blow it on a sure fire bust.) And Jeff Van Gundy is reminding the world 3 times weekly why Pau Gasol is the most skilled player in the game.


Call me negative, but every time the elder Gasol excels, my hopes that the Lakers lose grow a little bit.

People often ask me: What's my problem? How does it feel to have so much hate? Isn't it time to move on? By all accounts, Gasol is a nice guy. He's one of the top offensive big men in the NBA. He has a high basketball IQ, a strong work ethic, and is devoted to his teammates. What's there not to like?

Allow me to explain.

1. He plays for the Lakers. Hatred of the Lakers is independent of Gasol - the Lakers are the Yankees of the NBA . They're perennial front runners, who inherently have advantages over most other NBA teams (appealing destination, large TV revenue). That doesn't discount the hard work of the Lakers' players, coaches and front office. You can't be good without hard work, skill, and luck. (Just ask New York.) But it's easy to cheer against frontrunners, especially when they have advantages over their competition.

There are other teams that could be considered front runners. (Boston is one of them, and Cleveland is not.) But none is as much of a front runner as the Lakers, and Pau is a casualty of this.

If Pau played for Cleveland, Miami, Houston, or Denver, it would be more difficult to cheer against him.

Aside: It's worth noting the more subjectively unappealing aspects of the Lakers. The glitter, the Hollywood scene, the bandwagon fans, the perceived effort to ability ratio (except Kobe). Doesn't it seem like the Lakers lose because they didn't try hard enough whereas other teams lose because they're not talented enough?

Of course there's someone parading the streets of LA as a Pau Gasol lookalike.

2. The better Gasol looks, the worse the Grizzlies look.

It's not easy to make the Grizzlies look worse than they already do. We might be approaching a threshold. Until then, Gasol's success keeps pushing the boundary.

Trading a borderline All Star who can't guard Leon Powe during his prime for Kwame Brown is a lot better than trading the second best player for an NBA Champion during his prime. With every additional championship, All Star game, and statistically successful season, Gasol undermines the Grizzlies' credibility a little more.

You don't want to be known for trading a Hall of Famer during his prime. People will start to question your judgement.

3. He's Pau Gasol.

As previously stated, Gasol seems like a good guy, and he's the most offensively dynamic big man in the NBA. There's a lot to like.

But his game is finesse, and he makes those horrid faces. For a 7 footer, his rebounding and help defense are weak, and for such a dynamic scorer, his 4th quarter presence is not great. It just so happens these skills are typically associated with effort. In an unfortunate twist of fate, the Lakers also have the perfect remedies for this: Andrew Bynum (rebounding, help defense) and Kobe (4th quarter).

And that's why it was so difficult to build a successful team around him in Memphis. It's not easy to find a center like Andrew Bynum that fits well next to Gasol. Especially when you draft Drew Gooden and trade for Brian Cardinal. The team needed top notch perimeter defenders (James Posey & Shane Battier) to compensate for poor interior defense, which meant the team couldn't sacrifice perimeter defense for scoring (Rudy Gay). Also, unlike the Lakers management, the Grizzlies management wasn't good or lucky. The funny part was that the Grizzlies management was the Lakers management. Or maybe that wasn't funny.


When you type "pau gasol look" into Google, 2 search queries that come up are: "pau gasol looks like a llama" and "pau gasol looks like an ostrich". I'm just sayin.

4. Then there was Spain. Not the country. But the Basketball team.

Gasol seemingly gave more effort for the Spanish National Team than he did for the Grizzlies. (I believe this was perception and not reality, but it still impacts likability.) Even worse there was the time Gasol broke his foot, contributing to the Grizzlies' transition from playoff team back to lottery regular. Breaking his foot didn't actually contribute to Pau's likability, but privately asking for a trade shortly after his return did.

Pau's success with Spain (and LA) was probably more circumstance than effort or desire, and his request for a trade was a minor blunder in a 6.5 season stretch in Memphis. But the fact remains that the max contract, franchise player demanded a trade after giving 110% to another team. Now, he's in LA, and he reportedly won't be playing for Spain in the summer.

So I hope Marc Gasol will forgive me if I'm not cheering for the Lakers in the Finals. They're an unlikable team, and their success, along with Pau's, makes the Grizzlies look bad.

Beat LA.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Grizzlies' Strategy is Still the Wrong Strategy

In a recent chat with Chris Vernon, Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace explained which deficiencies the team is looking to improve during the offseason:


Wallace said: "We need to strengthen the pitching rotation we have at the point guard position because you need more than one player [at point guard]. Other needs in no particular order are more outside shooting, ... more overall athleticism, ... size, length, and athleticism at the perimeter, ... and a veteran presence."

This isn't the first time that Wallace or Heisley has suggested that the Grizzlies are looking for role players to add to the core starters from last year, and it's still the wrong approach to improving the team.

This is the type of strategy that produces 0 playoff victories in 15 seasons. The Grizzlies don't need a backup point guard and a three point shooter. They need a top 15 player. They need someone with the potential to make an All-NBA team, not someone who can help them win one or two games.

Last year's squad didn't win half the games it played and didn't even make the playoffs. The team was better than previous teams which sparred for the league's worst record, but these players aren't going to spontaneously improve to top 5 in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies earned the 10th seed in part because of their own health and other teams' injuries. (#11 New Orleans and #12 the LA Clippers both had injuries to their stars / potential stars that derailed their seasons.) They may digress if not as healthy next season.

As Jamie Vann Struth explains at OpposingViews.com, the Grizzlies' stats suggest they weren't as good as their record indicated. Their performance was equal to that of a 37 win team, not a 40 win team, so they weren't as close to making the playoffs as it may seem.

Lionel Hollins wants to reap the benefit of developing the young players, and it's true that is has been painful to watch Gasol dominate in the playoffs. It's also true that the Grizzlies are young, but 3 of their 4 best players, Randolph, Gasol, and Gay, are old enough that there is little chance of each developing into more than a borderline All Star. Mayo is young enough that there's an outside chance he could make strides, but I'm not mortgaging the house on the chance that he'll be the best or second best player on an NBA Champion.

Don't get me wrong. I like all four of the Grizzlies' top four, and I'd be happy to have any of them on the team. But the idea that this team is going to take the Grizzlies to relevance is wrong.

The Grizzlies need to be looking for opportunities to acquire a perennial All Star, not a backup point guard.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Core Grizzlies, Part 2

There are 3 types of Hollywood sequels:


1. There's the type of sequel where the cast and crew replicates the original exactly. Think Jaws 2 or Batman Returns. This almost never works. Everybody is usually just going through the motions so they can get paid.

2. There's the type of sequel where you take the original and add one twist to try to keep things interesting. Add water and get Halloween H20. Give Indiana Jones a son and get Indy 4. Add Revenge and get Jaws the Revenge. These work sometimes if the twist is interesting enough, as was the case with Leprechaun in the Hood, but they're almost always worse than the originals.

I'm hoping The Human Centipede sequel, The Full Sequence, is even better than the original. Incidentally, this is the face I make whenever the Grizzlies are about to make their selection during the NBA Draft.

3. Then there's the type of sequel where you build on what happened in the original. These are a continuation. The build upon and advance the story in ways that the original couldn't. The originals set the stage, and the sequel gives the payoff. Batman Begins sets up The Dark Knight. Star Wars sets up The Empire Strikes Back.

The point is that you can't keep the same formula in place an expect different results. Everybody is going to want more money, and the results are likely going to be worse. That's why keeping the core Grizzlies together is a mistake.

Do you really think keeping this core together, along with a new bench player or two, is going to make a difference?

Coach Hollins himself admitted that these guys don't practice: "None of them will be in gym once that two-hour block of practice is over. They’re not going to come early unless you make them, they’re not going to stay late." How are they going to match teams like the Blazers and the Thunder if they aren't dedicated enough to practice?

The Grizzlies might improve marginally if they're lucky, but this group of players won't be much better than this group of players was last season. And I don't want to undermine last season's "success". I liked last year's team better than most Grizzlies squads. They barely lost more than half their games.

But paying Rudy Gay $15 million per year, extending Zach Randolph at $15 million per year, and starting Mike Conley at the point next season would be a mistake.

Instead the Grizzlies should trade for Elton Brand and Evan Turner. Or package our young guys for someone else's young guys. Anything. Just don't bring the same old formula. This team is not good enough to franchise. The original wasn't that good.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

I don't mind losing now.

With the Grizzlies' recent elimination from the playoffs, there's been talk of how great a moral victory it will be to have a winning season. It will help the team build towards next season so it's been said. Sorry if I don't plan a parade down Beale Street.

While I'm busy not planning parades, let me share three reasons why losing these next few games will help with next season more than winning the games.

1. Grizzlies losses can move their draft picks up several positions. When Tuesday's Grizzlies-Rockets game ended with a Grizzlies loss, it also resulted in the two teams swapping their respective draft picks. The Grizzlies moved from 14 to 13 while the Rockets moved from 13 to 14. You should know that the 13th pick is better than the 14th when you're selecting players to help your team in following season. The Grizzlies probably won't overtake the Bulls for the 12 spot (1.5 games separate them), but losing the next 4 games will help.

The Grizzlies have other picks they can impact as well. There's an outside chance the loss to Orlando on Sunday will help move the pick owed to the Grizzlies from the Lakers from 29 to 28. Likewise, 2 losses to the Mavericks in the past week have given Dallas a chance to improve the pick owed to the Grizzlies by the Nuggets.

The big story for teams that actually play in playoffs is that very few games separate 2nd and 8th place. The big story for the Grizzlies is that their Denver pick could swing several positions, the Grizzlies have games against Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Denver that could impact the swing. The Denver pick could easily jump from 27 to 24: There's less than a game separating those positions. There's even a possibility that the Denver pick could move as low as 21. (Fewer than 3 games separate those positions.) And it's mathematically possible (3.5 games) that the Denver pick will be 19.

If you had trouble following that, let me summarize: The only game I want the Grizzlies to win for the rest of the season is next Monday against Denver.

Sorry if I think draft positioning is more important than moral victories, but the difference in one position can be the difference in swinging a trade or drafting an impact player. Of course, if you're busting at #2 on a consistent basis then #13 ain't gonna help.


A strategy of "tanking games" is usually most effective when coupled with a plan for using the resulting draft picks to improve the team.

2. Do we really think winning meaningless games is going to help with building on the "success" of this season? If anything, it will lead to complacency. I propose a separate theory: the worse the team does, the more inspired it should be to make a bold move to improve. For some reason I keep thinking Heisley will be embarrassed into improving the team. Of course this is the guy who says he's happy with the team, and will probably bring back the same group next year.

Luckily, that means this time next year, I can just republish the above paragraph in a new blog post.

3. Maybe a losing record will bring down the price tag of Rudy Gay. That's the biggest stretch of the three, but a fan blogger can dream, can't he?

At this point, we're looking at 3 or 4 teams that are going to strike out on signing a top free agent this summer. Will one of those teams be desperate enough to give Gay a max contract? I can't say for sure, but I can say that the last time the Grizzlies gave out a max contract it turned into Kwame Brown. And, by the way, Gay isn't as good as Pau Gasol. We're on course for a very difficult situation with the Gay contract, and until then I will latch on to any crackpot idea that helps me sleep at night.

Rudy Gay will be able to afford a new couch next year. Also, if you're searching for images of Rudy Gay on Google, I recommend 'safe search'.

So I stopped watching games religiously a few weeks ago. And I've noticed losing doesn't ruin my night any more. Maybe 9 seasons and no playoff victories is wearing on me. Maybe I know that losing is better, but I can't bare to watch unless I'm 100% behind the team winning. Maybe I'm just ready for this season to be over. It wasn't a success, four games won't change that, and you can't tell me differently.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Memphis Grizzlies vs Golden State

I don't have the heart or the energy to write an extensive recap of the Grizzlies game against the Warriors, so I'll just post this random collection of thoughts, pictures, and videos:

  • It was really great to be sitting on the 6th row, cheering for the Grizzlies, wearing Grizzlies gear, while the team gave up a franchise record 78 points in the first half to one of the 5 worst teams in the league. Thanks guys.
  • I enjoyed the banter from the gentlemen next to me who were eventually escorted out by security when they attempted to enter the Warriors locker room in the 4th. By the 3rd quarter, I was feeding them ammunition for their jeers like "Graceland is in Memphis." That led to: "Hey Gay, Why don't you go to Graceland?"
  • Next time the Grizzlies decide to draft a shot blocking specialist, they should check to see if he can jump more than once in succession.
FYI, in case the Warriors call you about season tickets, you can get Row 6 seats for $50 each on Craigslist. I talked Craig down from $60. Warning: It's embarrassing to pay $50 for tickets and cheer for the other team, when the Warriors destroy them.


The Warriors in full tank-a-polooza mode started Anthony Tolliver and Chris Hunter. Guess which one they drafted #2 overall.



Rudy Gay can shoot free throws, but he didn't seem too bothered by the massacre on the court. Maybe he's just used to it?



In an attempt to turn things around for the Grizz, I gave my lucky hat to Evan. It didn't work.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Success in Sacramento

The Grizzlies rewarded my 1.5 hour drive to Sacramento with a 102-85 win at Arco Arena.


The trip was almost a disaster: For those looking to tailgate in the Arco Arena parking lot, Beware. The Papa John's closest to Arco (Blue Marker) is not located West of Interstate 5 (Red Marker) as Google Maps would have you believe. On the contrary, Papa John's is located East of 5 as shown by the Green Marker.


View Papa John's Near Arco in a larger map

After a few phone calls, My GF, Jen, and I located PJs, picked up my medium half-sausage (for me), half-pineapple (for Jen), and headed to the Arco Parking Lot.


The first thing I noticed was that, despite their team's terrible performance, the threat of relocation, and the fact that their best player was recently shipped out for loose change, Kings fans have spirit. More fans were decked out in team gear than at Memphis or Oakland home games. I hope the citizens of Seattle feel bad when Kings move to Washington.

I was the only person wearing an Iverson jersey and a stuffed bear hat, and Jen was one of two people wearing a Rudy Gay jersey. I did see one other guy wearing a Vancouver jersey, but he was wearing an unbuttoned Kings shirt over it.

The second thing I noticed was that it's really obvious why the Kings want a new arena. The arena feels half the size of Oracle or the FedEx Forum, and there might be a third the number of luxury boxes. It's gotten so bad at Arco, that this was their half-time show:



On the way inside, a season ticket holder who had been given courtside seats for the game offered to sell me his seats in Row E for $10 each. That was an upgrade over Row W, so this was our view:


Our premium vantage point meant Jen was more engaged than usual. As a result, she chose Gay, Zach Randolph, and Hasheem Thabeet as her favorite players. (On Thabeet: "The way he walks around the court like he doesn't know what he's doing is endearing.") Her least favorites were Hamed Haddadi (He had a rough game.) and Marcus Williams (I think she's biased because he blocked me on Twitter.)

Jen was also an OJ Mayo fan after he dominated four straight possessions in the 4th to seal the game. He scored 10 straight, including 2 three pointers, and made it look easy. Mayo, Z-Bo, Gay, and even Thabeet made it look easy at times. There's nothing I enjoy watching more than Thabeet dunks, blocks, or made free throws. For example:



When you observe Thabeet's game from about 10 yards away, you realize that the limitations of his game really are experience and effort. There were at least three occasions where Beno Udrih pulled up for a 10 foot jump shot in the lane, Thabeet looked close enough to contest, but he either didn't attempt to contest or he didn't affect the shot. I don't know whether it's conditioning, a learning curve, confidence, or being coached to play conservatively. But for Thabeet to be a success, he's going to have to play with more energy than this.

Rudy Gay's athleticism also stands out. His inside game has vastly improved since last season. He gets to the rim, and finishes. Why the Grizzlies rarely run set plays that get Rudy the ball near the basket, I'll never know. He's the most dynamic scorer on the team, and he dribbles up to his neck. Why should dribbling through traffic be his best move? Teach him to move without the ball, and get the ball to him in the post with Z-Bo on the weak side. Is that too much to ask?

This is the first time in 5 years in the Bay Area that I've felt it was worthwhile to drive to Sacramento to see the Grizzlies, and I'm glad I did. If they improve next season, I'll be back. Hopefully my trip across the Bay to Oakland Wednesday will be just as good. Look for a post game report later this week.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Back and Off to Sacto

Has it been almost a month since my last post? First, please accept my apologies.


Since my last post, Thabeet ventured to and from the D-League, the Grizzlies' hopes for making the playoffs fizzled out, Brewer returned from injury, and Heisley conducted interviews with 3sob and Ron Tillery.

What have I been doing? First, I went to Vegas, where I vaguely recall betting on the Grizzlies Bobcats 1st half and final scores. I lost $20 on each. Then, I bet $50 more dollars on the Grizzlies Knicks 1st half and final scores as well as the under. I won the lines, but lost the under. (Thanks Curt & John for advising to take the under!)

It was touch-and-go at times, but thankfully the Grizzlies did not play me out of house and home.

Of course, I spent the next week or so in a haze, recovering from my hangover. Since then, I spent time entertaining college friends, Claude and Atrain, in the Bay Area, saw Obsessed, starring Beyonce and Stringer Bell, visited Portland with my girlfriend, and watched this video about 300 times:



Hit replay. Now do it again, and tell me you can't see this playing as the Grizzlies perform lay-up drills before games. What would it take for the marketing guys in Memphis to try this out? Someone please let me know.

The good news is that it's time to get back to blogging. Monday, I head to Sacramento to see the Grizzlies face the Kings without future Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans. (I'll give you a hint: Tyreke was not assigned to the D-League.) On Wednesday, I travel with the team back to Oakland, where I'll have the chance to assess whether the Grizzlies have improved since I saw them lose in Oracle arena on November 4th.

I hope to get my post game thoughts on both games up this week. Later on, I hope to put together thoughts on Heisley's public comments and the Rudy Gay conundrum. In the meantime, please do look for me on TV. I'll be one of the fans wearing an Iverson Grizzlies jersey and a plush stuffed grizzly bear hat.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

First-Half Bets Are Back!

Thursday I depart for my semi-frequent trip to Vegas, staying at the Signature MGM Grand.


My goal: channel Tim Donaghy and win ~$20 betting on Grizzlies first half scores. The Griz play the Bobcats at home on Friday and the Knicks in NYC on Saturday. Please comment with any inside info.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lakers-Grizzlies: Live DVR Blogging

Pau returning to Memphis. Kobe's first game back. NBA TV HD. First time trying the new Dominos Pizza. Watching the game 2 hours late on the West Coast.

That's the perfect combo for Live DVR Blogging. Let's get to it.
PREGAME
McHale is wearing a Marc Gasol jersey, and Jose has put my order in the oven. This is shaping up to be a good night.


FIRST QUARTER
Conley just put the worst Laker FG shooter on the free throw line 13 seconds into the game. He continues to amaze.

The commentators are Pete Pranica and some guy named Hank. Where is Sean Tuoy? By the way, Pete is heating up: "Conley playing hide-n-seek." or " Conley rings the bell." or "Nothing but sweet string music for Mayo."

Lots of cheers for the Kobe Bryant after the free throw. These fans make me sick.

4 minute mark: Conley missed layup count 1.

End of First: 27-16 Lakers
SECOND QUARTER
Haddadi sighting. Assist, block, scores. Already playing as well as any Grizzly not names Gasol.

9 minutes: HADDADI: and 1. The first of the season?

7 minutes: Farmar alley-oop tp Bynum. The crowd erupts.

6 minutes: Sam Young makes a 3. Don't encourage him.

5 minutes: Haddadi at the free throw line, and the pizza has arrived.

Initial take on Domino's: A step up, but not as good as Papa John's.

Just got a text from reader John: "I want to die." I hope he's talking about Camby's injury. Note ot John: DON'T TEXT ME ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES.

1 minute: Mbenga in the game before Thabeet. Trivia question: Who draft selection what Mbenga?

THIRD QUARTER
9 minutes: Conley missed layup count: 2.

8 minutes: Kobe blocked. Mayo with a fast break dunk. The Laker bigs look terrible. This pizza is getting better.

5 minutes: Rudy Gay blocks Gasol underneath, and Fisher gets a 3. Definitely worth it.

3 minutes: Pete's back into it. I think he just said "Bango" after a Mayo 3.

2 minutes: Was just about to compliment Conley for the steals, then he threw it to Kobe. Memphis up 7.

1 minute: Pete informs us the Z-bo has just passed Pau for most offensive rebounds in 1 season.

Grizzlies up at the end of the third. At this point, John's text must be related to something else. There's no way the Grizzlies blow this.

FOURTH QUARTER

Haddadi picks up the 5th foul on Bynum. Trivia question: What draft selection was Haddadi?

7 minutes: Grizzlies up 9. Almost too nervous to live DVR blog. I was never this nervous when they sucked.

Pau Gasol missed a free throw with less than 5 in the fourth. Is this 2005?

3 minutes: McHale, Webber, and EJ ripping on Artest. 1-9, and a badly missed 3 pointer. Also, Lakers have missed 5 free throws, including 4 straight.

2 minutes: Bryant 3, and Gay drives to the hole, with Bynum fouling out. Gay: 1-2 at the line.

1:40: Technical on Lionel Hollins: "I want to die."

1 minute: Conley missed layup count: 3. (It was more like a 8 footer.) "I WANT TO DIE."

OJ MAYO missed free throws. "I WANT TO DIE."

Laker ball 8.8 left. Down 2. "I WANT TO DIE."

Kobe for 3. Wide open. Mayo still thinking about his missed free throws. The crowd erupts. "I WANT TO DIE."

Mayo misses. "I want to die."
POSTGAME
Saddest part of the Grizzlies' season is their 1st playoff win won't come against Pau. They match up as well against the Lakers as any other playoff team: bad point guard, bad 3 forward offensively, bad bench, bigs who play down low, but aren't terribly physical. Would have been a good series.
For those of you looking for audio of the post game presser, where Hollins yells at Jarvis Greer, listen here: http://www.grizzliesonline.com/index.php/calendar/event/grizzlies_vs._lakers3/

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I like the Brewer Trade, but I'm still Disappointed.

The Grizzlies lose in double-overtime at home to the Miami Heat with Dwayne Wade in street clothes, and Ronnie Brewer goes down with a Hamstring injury in his first game as a Grizzly. What a great way to start the weekend.


I wanted to critique the Brewer trade after seeing him play (aka I had plans on Thursday night). Now, I don't even know when Brewer will play again. Brewer is a restricted free agent this summer, so it's conceivable that his career as a Grizzly will be 5 minutes long.

This is what Ronnie Brewer looks like in street clothes sitting on a bench.

Despite the injury, the trade was, for once, about improving the team rather than solely about the bottom line (though it was still conservative from a cost perspective). The Grizzlies took advantage of a team looking to cut costs, and gave up very little in the process. It's like opposite day in Memphis.

My only wish is that the Grizzlies had done more. The Grizzlies are rumored to have tried to acquire longtime David Loves the Grizzlies man-crush Monta Ellis, further evidence that Chris Wallace has turned to fan blogs since firing his scouts. Though I still favor trading Gay over Mayo, Ellis is exactly the caliber of player the Grizzlies. Almost as important, he plays for a terrible team that should be looking to cut costs.

I can't fathom why the Grizzlies would trade their best long range shooter for a guard that penetrates and creates shots for outside shooters. This is another example of poor player evaluation on the part of the Grizzlies. (One other example might be the #2 pick in the 2009 draft, but hey, you can't teach height.)

Speaking of which, I have two final thoughts:

#1 When will Lionel Hollins learn the make strategic substitutions in a late game situations? What makes him think that Zach Randolph should guard Michael Beasley when:
  1. Zach Randolph is a poor defender.
  2. Zach Randolph is a poor perimeter defender.
  3. Zach Randolph was getting torched by Michael Beasley.
  4. Zach Randolph had 5 fouls.
  5. Other teams have taken advantage of Zach Randolph in late game situations. (eg Charlotte)
  6. The Grizzlies could have called a timeout to get Zach Randolph back in the game on offense.
#2 Mike Conley is done. I don't understand why the team won't admit this. Why would you want the worst player on the floor handling the ball and initiating the offense? Why would you want a guard whose supposed strength is quickness handling the ball when he can't finish at the rim or penetrate and dish?

I like the Brewer trade, but I'm still disappointed. The Grizzlies didn't move Conley. They're shopping the wrong wing player, and they didn't make a big move like some many other teams did. I want to be excited about the Brewer trade, but I don't feel like it's enough.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Am Embarrassed To Have Bought This Hat

Dear Michael Heisley and the Memphis Grizzlies,


I bought this hat from Amazon in celebration of your great success this season, and now, with your recent struggles, I am embarrassed. Please rectify the situation. For example, One idea is to make a trade before 3 PM EST Thursday that at least appears, partially, to make basketball sense, sort of.


Another idea would be to acquire a point guard that makes layups.

Please don't tell me you are saving money to pay Rudy Gay this summer. We are not going to get better with the same players minus Steven Hunter next year. And we are not going to be better next year when you tell us you can't afford more players because you are paying Rudy Gay $15 million per year.

Love,
David

PS Dorell Wright does not count.

PPS I heart Hasheem Thabeet.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A New CBA That Could Help The Grizzlies

One of the last places where unions and employers still negotiate the terms of employment is professional sports. (It turns out that most employees in America can be replaced more easily than LeBron James for example.) During All Star Weekend those negotiations heated up as the players and owners sat down to discuss a new collective bargaining agreement.


The previous agreement led to $40 million contracts for the likes of Marko Jaric. As you can imagine, when you're busy paying Marko Jaric $40 million, you don't have time to worry about details like whether your costs exceed your revenue. However, owners have decided this isn't such a good idea, and they want to make more teams profitable. Believe it or not, the players, on the other hand, don't want to give up their diamond studded swimming pools just so a few billionaires can make a buck.

Of course, not all franchises are unprofitable. For a number of reasons (poor management, small markets, bad luck), some franchises are more likely to lose money. Large TV markets, savvy basketball people, and/or luck can make a franchise profitable even with enormous expenses. (Or their billionaire owners are willing to subsidize losses in which case, who needs a budget?)

Here are three possible outcomes of the CBA that could help (or not help) more franchises become profitable:

1. Remove the salary cap and let franchises pay whatever they want to players. (For example, baseball) NBA owners have shown they aren't capable of restraining themselves when it comes to giving players excessive contracts so I'm not sure how balance sheets would improve if the current restraints were removed. I imagine Isiah Thomas would have signed Eddie Curry to a $500 million dollar contract if there was no salary cap.

Still, let's imagine the owners are able to spend only what they can afford. That wouldn't be good for the players. On average, they may get a share of revenue equal to what their getting now, but the premium contracts (in theory) would be reserved for a few roster spots in the biggest markets. Welcome to the New York Yankees.

2. Lower the percentage of profits paid to players so that even franchises with small revenue can turn a profit. Basically, force all owners to pay what the least profitable owners can afford to pay in player salaries. This is what the owners are reportedly proposing.

The result would be that more teams would turn a small profit, and a few teams would turn an even bigger profit than they do today. On the other hand, the overall amount of money going to the players would be smaller.

3. What's best for the players and for Memphis is a third scenario: Take profits from the most profitable franchises and distribute them among all the franchises. If some of the Lakers' profits were distributed across the league, then fewer teams would be unprofitable, and players could still get a large percentage of revenue. (Though some reports say that the total amount of player salaries must come down slightly for the league to be profitable as a whole.)

"Ultimately, it seems, the union wants to discuss some form of revenue sharing in which small-market teams would be propped up by larger-market teams which have higher television revenue and gate receipts. That would replicate the NFL's model, which has been largely successful because of enormous television revenue."
I can imagine a number of reasons why owners wouldn't want this to happen. Of course, the large markets don't want to give away their money. Philosophically, the idea of subsidizing someone else's business, maybe even someone else's poorly managed business, is probably disgusting for most of the owners. After all, we know that no one subsidized their billion dollar pocketbooks. Every penny was earned by old fashioned blood, sweat, and tears. I promise. Look it up.

I can also imagine opposition from owners who, like poor Americans who vote for Republicans because they lower taxes, want to preserve the possibility of winning the LeBron lottery. If you all of a sudden find yourself with someone who prints season tickets, like LeBron James, you don't want to pay 70% of your ticket sales to Indiana.

Of course, Grizzlies fans should realize that the chances of winning a LeBron-type prize are slim, and even when you come close, you're likely to trade away the consolation prize for Otis Thorpe. Or draft Hasheem Thabeet. Therefore, I respectfully request that Michael Heisley take a break from squandering away opportunities to improve the team via trade, and convince his fellow owners to increase the amount of revenue that's shared between franchises.

It would be good for the players, good for the league, and good for Memphis.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Griz Need Help

Regardless of the outcome of this season, the Grizzlies have developed a style of play with which they can win basketball games. That style is characterized by rebounding, toughness, and inside scoring.


The benefit of having established a style of play is that if you're savvy and you have resources, you can start acquiring players that fit that style. Houston has found success using MBAs to determine who fits their style based on analysis of player stats. Charlotte has found similar success by sheer luck.

The Griz of course have neither the resources to hire MBAs nor luck. This is the team that only has one 'stats geek', they hired him this year, and he's part time. Not to mention they fired all their scouts. Luckily, the Grizzlies have fan bloggers like me to make armchair recommendations:


Who am I to question the judgement of the folks who drafted Hasheem Thabeet when he was a consensus bust BEFORE they drafted him?

1. Don't prioritize re-signing Rudy Gay over all else.

Rudy is by far the most athletic Grizzly, but of the 4 good players, he's the worst fit. The Grizzlies are an inside outside team built on rebounding, scrappy defense, without the benefit of a play-making guard.

Rudy Gay's weakness are scrappy defense, rebound, and ball-handling. The Grizzlies need a spot up shooter at the 3 position who can stay in front of his man. Gasol and Randolph aren't good enough shot blockers / help defenders to compensate for Rudy's defense (though Gasol has shown flashes).

Can the Grizzlies be successful with Rudy Gay? They've demonstrated they can.

Is he their most tradeable asset? Yes, he's the one Grizzly who would likely benefit from a different system. He's the most conventionally talented player on the team, and he's likely to be overpaid this summer.

The elephant in the room for the Grizzlies is that they won't be able to keep all four of the starters due to salary constraints in the long run, and moving Rudy now makes more sense than moving anyone else.

Yes, I said all four starters on purpose.

Rudy Gay, The Knicks' 2011 All Star

2. Take advantage of all the teams that are selling.

It's absolutely ridiculous that the Grizzlies won't accept a contract that goes beyond 2010. They aren't going to acquire a big name free agent. Even the second and third tier free agents will be off the market when New York and New Jersey realize they have nothing left to do but throw max contracts at mediocre players.

The one strategy that can work for the Grizzlies is acquiring players that teams, who are cutting salary, will trade for less than equal value. Remember Zach Randolph? Do that again. Package Mike Conley, Steven Hunter, and even Hasheem Thabeet for a good player on a bad team with long contract.

Did you know that Mike Conley and Steven Hunter for Jose Calderon works? If the Raptors made that deal, they wouldn't be stuck with Jose Calderon when Chris Bosh abandons them. Of course, they won't take that deal because they don't want Chris Bosh to know that they know he's booking it. Does that make sense? I'm not sure.

Did you know that Monta Ellis for Conley, Hunter, and Marcus Williams works? Even though John Hollinger recently called Ellis the most overrated player in the league, I don't care. I'll trade the most accurately rated crap player for the most overrated good player any day.

Now, I'm going to conclude this blog post before I recommend trading for Gilbert Arenas again.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

All Time Top Grizzlies All Stars

I'm not a huge fan of the All Star Game. I just don't care that much, and I'd rather see spectacular plays when it matters. That said, I'd definitely watch Saturday night's competitions if if only 7+ footers were eligible. What, you wouldn't prefer to watch Thabeet vs Mbenda in the Skills Competition?


Anyway, I thought I'd pay homage to Zach Randolph's trip to the All Star Game by listing all the Grizzlies' All Star selections in sequential order.



Player Year
Win %
PER
MPG FG% FT% RPG APG PPG
Pau Gasol 2006
.598
22.76
39.2 .503 .689 8.9 4.6 20.4
Zach Randolph
2010
.520
21.80
37.5
.497
.796
11.5
2.1
20.5


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Gasol Trade Anniversary

February 1 is the 2 year anniversary of the trade that sent Pau Gasol to the Lakers for salary cap flexibility. And since I'm bitter and I'll never get over the trade, I thought it made sense to do a post about it.



I wonder how that will turn out. Here's a breakdown of all the pieces of 2008's epic trade and how they've benefited or hurt the Grizzlies.

Getting rid of Pau
People forget how badly Grizzly fans wanted to get rid of their best player. Shortly after the trade, we were reminded when Leon Powe dunked on Gasol's head 30 times during the NBA Finals.

More recently, Zach Randolph reminded us again by doing what Pau would never do: anchoring the post with toughness, rebounding, and clutch play.

Even though we had to watch everybody ogle as Gasol won a championship, we all knew it was worth it. Now that the Grizzlies have turned it around, it's worth even more.
Getting Marc Gasol
Pau's sweet revenge on us is the fact that our new favorite player is his brother. Damn you Gasol!

Marc was better than expected as a rookie last year. And after running up a mountain all summer, he's a top five center in the league (Look at John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating if you don't believe me.)

Even more baffling than Pau's curse against us: the Commercial Appeal reports that we have GM Chris Wallace to thank for the younger Gasol's inclusion in the trade.

We love Gasol. Chris Wallace made a savvy move. Next thing you'll tell me is Heisley owns a successful team.
The right to draft Darrell Arthur
Arthur may eventually be a solid backup power forward. So far, injuries have slowed his development.

He does offer fans a pleasant reminder of John Calipari's legacy as coach of the Memphis Tigers. I always thought it would be nice if Arthur wore #92 to remind fans that the Tigers were up 9 with 2 minutes left.
Getting Javaris Crittenton
Can you believe there was a time when we thought Crittenton might be the point guard of the future? Wallace once said he was going to lock Crittenton in a room with Kyle Lowry and Mike Conley to see which two emerged as the Grizzlies' point guard tandem.

What Wallace did not realize is that Crittenton is not the type of guy you want to lock in a room with two point guards that are playing ahead of him.

Since he left Memphis, Javaris has contributed to one of the top five NBA scandals of last decade. (December's gun incident joins the Palace Brawl, the Donaghy scandal on the list.)

Crittenton's actions may have a bigger impact on the Grizzlies than you think. The incident may give owners leverage over the players during upcoming negotiations over the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The owners then may be able to work a deal that makes owning a franchise more financially viable.

Would that close the competitive gap between small markets like Memphis and big markets like New York? It's pure speculation, but hey, that's why I'm a fan blogger and not Chad Ford.

Getting The Laker's 2010 Draft pick
If the draft were today, the 2010 pick the Grizzlies acquired would be about as bad as it could be.
Getting $3,000,000
The Grizzlies received cash for their troubles - let's call it $3,000,000.

I can't imagine where Heisley could have invested 3 million and made money since 2008.
Getting Kwame Brown
Brown continued a long history of tragic Grizzly big men: Bryant Reeves, Stromile Swift, Ike Austin, Darko Milicic...

Am I leaving anyone off the list of Grizzly big men busts who are unintentionally funny? Oh right, Tony Massenburg.
Getting Aaron McKie
It's amazing that a member of the 2001 Eastern Conference Champion Philidelphia 76ers played fewer games as a Grizzly than Allen Iverson. But it's true. Aaron McKie did not play 1 game as a Grizzly.

On the plus side, I wasn't duped into buying an Aaron McKie Grizzly jersey.
Losing a 2008 2nd round draft pick
This pick turned out to be Joe Crawford. Chad Ford is reporting the Darko Milicic would have been a steal at this pick.

So there you have it. Not that I'm bitter or anything and need to rehash what happened two years ago to validate myself. I feel like I may be insane for admitting this in public, but that trade didn't turn out so badly after 1.5 years of torture. It's a good thing I didn't go with my initial reaction of dousing myself with gasoline, setting myself on fire, and jumping off of a bridge.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Grizzlies Playoffs Chances?

The Grizzlies are back above . 500 after a win in which they were outplayed at home despite the absence of the Clippers' top three big men. Both Mike Conley and the Grizzlies' bench are crushing my hopes for the Grizzlies' first franchise playoff win to come against Pau Gasol. I don't know whether to be happy of sad. So I decided to alleviate my confusion by analyzing the Grizzlies' remaining schedule to better understand their playoff chances.


Fedex Forum's Water Breaks, Fans are Evacuated.

Over the remaining schedule, let's predict, somewhat arbitrarily, that the Grizzlies win:
  • 100% of their home games against sub .500 teams
  • 50% of their home games against teams equal or greater than .500
  • 50% of their road games against sub .500 teams
  • 25% of their road games against teams equal or greater than .500
That's a strong performance, but not out of the question if they stay healthy. Here's what the breakdown of the Grizzlies remaining schedule looks like (45 games):

Remaining Games by Location and Opponent Record (1/12)

Sub .500
.500 or greater
Home
7
17
Away
10
11

Take the remaining games and apply my formula, and you get a 42-40 record (rounding to the nearest game) or a .512 winning percentage. That's essentially equal to the Grizzlies' current .514 winning percentage, and within one game of John Hollinger's prediction of the Grizzlies' end-of-season record. It's also not good enough to move the Grizzlies up in the standings unless other teams perform significantly worse (and the Clippers don't improve significantly).

Of the teams above the Grizzlies in the standings, I can see Houston, Portland, New Orleans, or Utah dropping, and Phoenix is one injured 35-year-old point guard away from the lottery. Even though only 2 losses separate the Grizzlies from the four franchises I mentioned (excluding Phoenix), I can't see 3 of those four franchises tanking enough to make 42-40 qualify for a playoff berth. (In the Western Conference of course.)

What that means is, to make the playoffs, the Grizzlies need to perform better than my predictions for the rest of the season.

If we don't make the playoffs, I blame Iverson.

The good news is that the Grizzlies have performed better than my prediction since December 1. Here's the breakdowns with victories in parentheses. (Opponents' Jan 12 records are used here too.)

Dec 1 - Jan 12 Games by Location and Opponent Record (Wins)

Sub .500
.500 or greater
Home
4 (4)6 (4)
Away
3 (2)6 (3)

You can see the Grizzlies won:
  • 100% of their home games against sub .500 teams
  • 67% of their home games against teams equal or greater than .500
  • 67% of their road games against sub .500 teams
  • 50% of their road games against teams equal or greater than .500
For those of you still reading, this means the Grizzlies need to perform somewhere between my prediction and their Dec -Jan 12 pace to make the playoffs. The most likely scenario is that the Grizzlies finish somewhere around .500 and miss the playoffs. Since the Grizzlies final record will likely qualify for the East's 5th seed at seasons end, the Grizzlies will have been screwed by the NBA's playoff rules in two of the four seasons when it wasn't lottery fodder. Don't think I forgot the 2006 playoffs when the Grizzlies (49 wins) played against the 60 win Mavericks instead of getting home court advantage against a 47 win Clippers team thanks to the NBA's superb Division leader rules.

Instead the 47-win Clippers used their home court advantage to beat the third-seeded Nuggets (44 wins) in 5 games.

Anyways, all of this is just a roundabout way of saying that it's nice to be getting back to being screwed by the NBA's playoff rules instead of the NBA's lottery rules. Go Grizz.