Monday, November 12, 2007

Building Around Pau?


A rookie poster on the Grizzlies Message Board named Jafean made an interesting comment about the alleged 'building around Pau' issue. For years people have criticized the Grizzlies for building around a player who was ineffective in a leadership role. Jafean's position was that either the Grizzlies have never built around Gasol or if they have they have done a particularly poor job of it.

It got me thinking. I know Jerry West always said that the Grizzlies wanted to build around Gasol. The team made the playoffs three times so whatever the team did to go from a 23 win team to a playoff team must have in some sense been to build around the only all-star in the franchises' history right? The funny thing was that I couldn't find a single example prior to this season that anything has been done to actually build around Gasol. In fact a strong argument could be made that the Grizzlies personnel decisions were in spite of the stated need to build around Gasol not because of them.

What type of player would fill the definition of building around Gasol anyway? Would a perimeter scorer be seen as building around Gasol or simply filling an obvious need of the team? Would an athletic swing man be seen as building around Gasol? Would a fast point guard? What type of player would or could be classified as building around Gasol?

I honestly couldn't say any individual player type that would fit the definition of building around Gasol that couldn't also be said to be filling a team need outside of Juan Carlos Navarro and even that acquisition is debatable. It is almost always the case that filling a team need was the primary reason for players being acquired and not the need to build around Gasol. Could anyone say with a straight face that replacing Hakim, Jake Tsakalidis and Stromile Swift with Darko Milicic was not improving the team more than building specifically for Gasol? Would anyone say trading Mike Miller for Drew Gooden wasn't an example of the team improving it's assets rather than placating Gasol? Was signing Brian Cardinal an attempt to placate Gasol? Was drafting Hakim Warrick seen as throwing Gasol a bone? What about Alexander Johnson, Lawrence Roberts, Antonio Burks, Dahntay Jones, Eddie Jones, Bobby Jackson, Bonzi Wells, etc.

This summer for the first time the Grizzlies did start to acquire players that should complement Gasol including Darko. Juan Carlos Navarro was supposed to be a deadly outside shooter who could take advantage of double teams that came after Pau and the fact that they were best friends didn't hurt the chase. Casey Jacobsen was also acquired for that very same reason (the ability to hit the long ball not being a close friend of Gasol). Iavaroni said before the draft that Memphis' major needs were a banger in the paint to pair with Gasol (not placate or build around but to pair), three point shooting and improved point guard play. They accomplished all three of their goals. Only Navarro could be seen as pandering to Gasol's desires. Everything else made good basketball sense.

And now after 5 games people are willing to throw it away and start over. It really makes you wonder. Not seven years mind you but 5 games. No one in their right minds would think Cardinal, Swift, Gay, Warrick et cetera were acquired to build around Gasol so the argument that after 7 years we should realize defeat and start over is laughable.

Great post Jafean.

5 comments:

zack said...

chip, was it your intention to be humorous with that picture of Pau and JC? Everytime I see a picture of Pau and JC looking a little "too much" into each other, I crack up...

MemphisX said...

The issue is that you cant build around him because everything you have done the first 40 minutes goes out the window because he not only does not produce but he becomes a severe liability down the stretch. He is averaging 6 rebounds a game. 1 shot in consecutive 2nd halves.

He is a good player but should not be the focal point of your team.

hptmatt said...

isn't this line of thinking an inidictmet of West's either a)effort or b)truthfulness?

If they really were trying to build arond Pau, and West is the genius that most have thought he is/was, would acquisitions and etc. have not gone differently?

Or has it just taken this long for doable deals to come along (i.e. cap situation)?

I am glad that we have Darko, Pau, Rudy, Conley, and Lowry. Those five are a solid future..especially if Lowry were only about 6'6" :). I have not yet seen any semblance of even a partial installation of "attacking defense", but those five provide an excellent nucleus.

Just gotta stop hangin' heads.

ChipC3 said...

Excellent point Matt. I would like to believe that the financial reengineering West did was to provide just this sort of opportunity. Of course, many of the problems the team has had financially have to come back full circle to the contracts West handed out.

I don't believe there is a clear cut answer but I do believe West realized some errors were made and was in the process of correcting them but it took time. Apparently more time than West was willing to finish but he did make it possible for his successor to correct some or make new ones of his own. Only time will tell how the decisions made this summer work out but I definately think it is premature to give up on them yet.

hptmatt said...

I think that the dumbest thing West did, if it did in fact go down this way, was the "I signed Cardinal when Heisley raked me over the coals for not signing anyone" deal. I don't know if that's really how it went down,but if it did, that is the most harebrained thing I've ever heard, if you don't count Isiah. And maybe McHale.

I do think that West had some decent foresight cap-wise, except for the fact that there weren't really any big, big names this offseason, and that is something one can't really control or even predict sometimes...he just wanted to get us major space ASAP.

The thing that concerns me now is Pau, however.
Can he step it up and show that having a really huge guy playing next to him will help him take it to the next level?

Will he be ok ego-wise IF RU-DEE GAAAYYYY becomes the first option?

I think both questions can be answered in the affirmative, but Pau will have to change his mindset for that to happen. I'm not saying his production will drop, although it might a bit, but he's sort of got to rotate his headspace a little bit...