Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Time for a Culture Change: Trade Pau Gasol

Well it seems a good start was a little to much to ask for. The Memphis Grizzlies are 1-4 after an early season road trip through the weakest part of the Western Conference in the Pacific Northwest. The Grizzlies managed to scratch out a win against the winless, homeless Seattle Sonics. The problem is that the Grizz looked pitiful in all three games on the road trip and fell behind by double digits in all 3 games. If Iavaroni wanted this team’s calling card to be defense then the squad has yet to get the message. Grizz fans should have expected growing pains with a young team and first time coach but the problems for the Grizzlies were not unfamiliar to the fans.

Another disturbing trend is the play of Pau Gasol. Gasol hasn’t cracked the 20-point barrier since opening night and has seemed lackluster at best on the road trip except for the first half against Portland. Now the rumblings are that Gasol is playing through back and ankle injuries. However, why was he able to play so well the first half against Portland?

In all honesty, it doesn’t really matter does it? Search deep down inside. Do you honestly think that a team led by Pau Gasol is going to be highly successful in the NBA? When you see him sprawled out in the lane after any and all contact does it inspire you to future championship thoughts? I understand that Pau Gasol is the greatest player in Memphis Grizzlies history. Is that really that special? Is our history so grand that we should be holding on to Gasol? Do you really think that it is a coincidence that our teams strengths and weaknesses mirror his?

I think it is time for the organization to move in a different direction. It is time to trade Pau Gasol. No, it is past time. The optimal time would have been this summer but it is not to late and the Grizz are in better position with the emergence of Rudy Gay.

It seems when talk turns to trading Gasol, the first thing people want to say is that Memphis has to get equal value. I really don’t think that is as important as changing the culture of the team. It is not like trading Gasol is the same as trading Shaq. Memphis will be getting rid of a player that has led them to three lottery finishes and zero playoff victories. Are we to close to the team to see that Pau Gasol is not much better than other power forwards that seemed to be future stars such as: Antoine Walker, Juwan Howard, and Antawn Jamison. Heck, the Hornets, Raptors and Magic have recovered from trading even better players while Memphis was in the playoffs and have all leap frogged the Grizzlies in profile.

I predicted 35 wins for the Memphis Grizzlies this season and I think this figure could be reached even if Gasol is dealt. It reminds me of the Kevin Garnett situation. Do you really need Gasol and the $51 million+ left on his contract to make another lottery appearance?

Marc Iavaroni wants a tough, defensive team that runs and uses its athleticism to put pressure on opponents at both ends of the court. That sounds like a team built around Rudy Gay and Michael Conley not Pau Gasol. If you want to cultivate a team that is defense oriented and mentally tough, how can your best player not have those qualities?


ChipC3 said...

Without a distinct type of player in mind why would you want to just dump Gasol? You don't even want market value for him? You realize I suppose that Memphis has an attendance problem that would be made worse not better by dumping the teams best player don't you?

The solution you suggest would make sense with a dedicated fan base but without such a base it makes no sense to deliberately make this team worse in the hope of someday improving.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post. This is the definitive article I've read on the Keep Pau/Trade Pau argument. Anyone who thinks that Pau should not be traded simply needs to ask themselves the question of whether they honestly can imagine Gasol - even with the talent around him maturing - can lead Memphis to a title or even a deep playoff run taking into consideration the quality of some of the other teams in the west.No, seven years is more than enough to gain a clear picture of a player. Sometimes you have to subtract to add and the season to trade Pau is here.

Timmy D said...

Really well thought out post. Unlike most ideas about trading Pau this is very well done and doesnt just claim "Pau sucks trade him" like most do. Pau is a very good player and trading him would be a hard thing to do but I do agree that with the current coaching staff and style of play that Coach I. is looking for that Pau really doesnt fit that mold. However Rudy does perfectly and so does Conley.

Im not sure what trades would truly be available though even ones that we wouldnt be getting full value for which happens in most cases when a max contract is involved. Maybe you could post some of the ideas of who to trade for? The only options i can seem to imagine would be Chicago as always and Toronto maybe (even though I dont think they would ever give up Bosh for Pau in a million years).

MemphisX said...

Chip, I don't think trading Gasol would hurt attendance. I think the people that go to games go for the Grizz or the opponent.

I just think Gasol is a good addition to an established team. It is like when Portland built around Rasheed and Sacremento around Webber. Those teams put tremendous talent around them and they still fell short and both of those players were better than Gasol.

Some players, no matter how talented they. Simply are not made to be focal points.

In fact, I challenge anyone to find a team in NBA history that you respected as potential title winners that were led by a player like Gasol: weak defensively, poor rebounding big and disappears during clutch time.

If we do trade him, what do we have to recover from? How long would it take us to reach the heights we have with Gasol: fringe playoff team with no chance at winning a series.

ChipC3 said...

"Some players, no matter how talented they. Simply are not made to be focal points."

That is true and I would agree that Gasol appears to be that type of player. That doesn't explain trading him when we have Michael Conley, Rudy Gay and others developing to be more of a focal point in teh 4th quarter. If an established team can benefit from Gasol's presence then wouldn't it be true that Rudy and the other players benefit from Gasol's presence? It isn't like Gasol is denying them opportunities to develop at the end of games right now.

However, if you remove Gasol from the picture then it will be that much more difficult for other players to step up and be the type of player you want.

Earlier this season you mentioned that Memphis never has had a 20 pt perimeter scorer or a 25 pt interior scorer. Right now Rudy Gay is playing like he is willing to be that type of player. Gasol aids him in that respect by drawing attention down low.

MemphisX said...

We can't afford him if he is not the focal point. Also, it would be easy for Gasol to be a secondary contributor on another team but I don't think it is possible in Memphis in his prime.

If that is what we want then trade him for expirings and overpay Okafor next summer.

ChipC3 said...

"Also, it would be easy for Gasol to be a secondary contributor on another team but I don't think it is possible in Memphis in his prime."

Why? What is different about Memphis that he can't be contributing to a winning team that he can elsewhere? Or is this just another example of people thinking so poorly of Memphis that they can't imagine Rudy Gay becoming the focal point and Pau contribuing as the secondary player with Darko, Conley or Lowry and Miller all chipping in around the edges in their own way?

It's only been 5 games. Is there no possibility of the team improving their turnovers, offensive execution and team defense the rest of the season as they become more accustomed to Iavaroni's style?

Akram said...

I agree with chip, I envision Rudy being the focal point of this team with Conley also developing into a floor general that is a leader. Pau playing second fiddle. You can never have too many 20 pt post players that can use both hands. If Rudy develops into the "man" then all is well.

breatnyS said...

Good defense by the Memphis Grizzlies drama boys, if only we could patch up the difference, this will be a Memphis good season. They are running, switching in defense, rebounding see those efforts. We don't have yet the Grizzlies team down.

I which I could see some Grizzlies games live. I was looking for tickets all the good seats on ticketmaster were taken I had to check broker. And man you don’t want to do that especially for the Memphis Grizzlies. Thanks god there sites like Ticketwood which work as comparators here is the site
Grizzlies Tickets

I like slam dunks that take me to the hoop my favorite play is the ally-hoop,
I like the pic n roll,i like the given goal its basketball yo, yo lets go!
Go Grizzlies Go!!!