Tuesday, August 28, 2007

August 2, 2005 - A Day to Remember or Forget?

August 2, 2005 was a strange day for most Memphis Grizzlies fans. That was the day that Pat Riley and Jerry West partnered up with a few other GM's in the largest trade in NBA history. Gone from the Memphis Grizzlies were Jason Williams and James Posey, two players who were on the expensive side, from the Grizzlies 50 win season of a year before and in was Eddie Jones, an extremely overpaid and over the hill player.

What was the catch? Had West totally lost his mind? Was he senile? Was he rewarding Riley for his success in L.A.? Surely the Grizzlies were not trading away two important players in their primes from the Grizzlies back-to-back playoff teams for an ancient player.

Miami went on to win the NBA Championship that season and, while the Grizzlies did win the 2nd most games in franchise history, they were swept out of the playoffs again without winning a single game.

In the 2006-07 season, Eddie Jones complained about injury after injury before finally getting bought out of his huge contract and re-signing with the Miami Heat. Abruptly his troublesome injuries were behind him too. It appeared that not only had Memphis traded away the final pieces for an NBA title, but they had nothing to show for it after 18 months while Miami was holding all of the players and a world championship as well!

But nothing was the most important part of the trade as far as Jerry West was concerned.

‘Nothing’, as in the Grizzlies had ‘nothing’ in salary cap issues this summer. ‘Nothing’, as in the Grizzlies had ‘nothing’ in the locker room stirring up trouble and undermining team direction. ‘Nothing’ as in the Grizzlies had nothing holding them back from remaking the franchise and moving forward again after apparently hitting a wall as far as improvement was concerned.

Jerry West was convinced that the team as it was constructed would never improve beyond a 1st rd playoff exit. Something drastic had to be done. And he did about as drastic a trade as one could imagine changing things around.

Most trades take years to evaluate on who actually won or lost. The reasons for trades can be different and the time frame can radically alter the end result of a move. Right now Miami has seen the total benefit of the trade. They won one world championship (mostly in spite of JWill and Posey not because of them). Now the Heat are looking to re-fill the void from Posey’s signing with Boston while searching for a replacement for a suddenly old Jason Williams.

Memphis on the other hand signed Darko Milicic with their free cash. The release of Eddie Jones gave rookie SG Tarence Kinsey court time to develop. The need to fill the PG position allowed the drafting of Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry.

The Heat wanted to win now and did. The Grizzlies wanted to rebuild the team and eliminate the cap overhand that was costing the franchise millions in Luxury Tax every year. The Grizzlies have accomplished what they wanted from the trade and they did it with only one bad season.

So far the trade is still slanted in Miami’s favor, but as teams continue to pass over Miami in the Eastern Conference and Memphis grows younger, faster and more talented it appears to be only a matter of time before August 2, 2005 will be the day Memphis fans point to as the beginning of the Memphis success story.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It will always be slanted in Miami's favor, as they won a ring because of it, and the Grizzlies did not.

Even if the Grizzlies do win a ring in the next ten years, you can't point to the addition of Eddie Jones as the sole reason for the winning.

Let's be rediculous and say the Grizzlies win in five, six, even ten years. At that time, fans will be pointing to coaching, leadership, teamwork, and other factors, rather than Eddie Jones.