Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Is Trouble Brewing Behind the Scenes?

On Monday Sam Smith reported that Pau Gasol and Marc Iavaroni were not seeing eye to eye and that Gasol could be available in a trade. That night numerous people noticed that Kyle Lowry's body language suggested that he wasn't happy. Damon Stoudamire has made numerous statements that imply he would prefer not being a Memphis Grizzly for much longer. Hakim Warrick and Tarence Kinsey have been deposited deep on the Grizzlies bench when everyone is healthy prompting suggestions that they are in Coach Iavaroni's doghouse. Rumors have circled that Mike Miller is not pleased with his role on the team as well.

For a team that is supposed to be building for the future, not many people seem very happy about playing for the Grizzlies these days. I realize this is a taboo subject and that the players have denied any unhappiness with the organization or the coaching staff. Gasol himself was quoted saying:

"I'm good here," Gasol said. "We're a good, young team. Sure, it could be better, but that's what we're working on, and when we win games it will be better."
Still that air in FedEx Forum has been less than cheery these days. Can all these statements and rumors be nothing but random columnist's conjecture?

During the summer honeymoon with Iavaroni everyone was saying the right things about how positive Iavaroni was and how excited the players were about getting into camp and preparing for the season. Mind you, Gasol's reported enthusiasm about Iavaroni (and playing with his buddy Juan Carlos Navarro) was never actually quoted from Gasol. It was implied but did anyone actually read comments quoting Gasol directly that stated this to be true?

So is the 6-11 record what has the players down right now? Or is something else brewing under the radar? The team struggled out of the gate and has been unable to win a close game yet (0-5 at the time this was written in games decided by three points or less). Has the attendance, which has been sparse at best, upset the players? Or are players unhappy with the style of play that Coach Iavaroni is demanding of the team?

We fans don't have access to the coaches and players so we rely on the news from the 'professional' media to fill in the blanks. Hopefully the journalists will start to ask these tough questions. I left a comment on Chris Herrington's blog and emailed Geoff Calkins and Ron Tillery at the Commercial Appeal about this subject and, as they do have access, hopefully some information will come out about this.

I won't deny this could just be sour grapes after a particularly disappointing loss. It could all be a combination of over-active columnists' imaginations combined with an over-zealous blogger's observations but my momma used to say where there is smoke, there's fire. Right now there is a lot of smoke circling around FedEx Forum.

UPDATE: Pete Pranica addressed the idea of the team fracturing in his blog on Grizzlies.com. He makes some very good points about the reality between the body language signs and the team's attitude. A must read for Grizz fans.


Leslie said...

I have to agree with your comments, Chip. I sit very close to the player bench, and I'm concerned about the attitude I see Kyle, Miller, and Pau giving the coach. It makes me a little sad to see that Tarence is sometimes the only player that will sit anywhere near the coaches, and he doesn't even get any minutes. I often see key players not even looking or listening to the coach during time outs when he is outlining plays. I'm not sure what is going on exactly, but I agree that something is not right behind the scenes on this team. I will try to pay more attention at the next home game and give you my thoughts.

Off topic, but were you at the game last night? If it was you, I think you almost got in the elevator I was in but it was too full. Just curious.

hptmatt said...

I've thought for a couple weeks now that the locker room was going to get snippy...and I was ostracized for being a "drama queen" after saying such just after we were blown out of the building by, oh, some team.
I, too, have seen the body language...it's going to be a rough patch for the player/coach relationship....

Anonymous said...

This is absurd! Sam Smith is not a reliable source for information on Pau Gasol -- or anyone for that matter. Kyle may have been upset for a few minutes on one night, but so what. Big deal. Damon has not made "numerous" statements regarding a change of teams. He has made 1 or 2 at most in the summer. Kinsey and Warrick have said all the right things. I see no controversy there as of yet. And who says that Miller is unhappy about his role on the team? Some douche bag at the concession stand? You're free to write whatever you want about the Griz. But don't be surprised if a hack like Sam Smith starts writing about trouble brewing in Memphis using this as a source. I suggest being more responsible about you write on this blog. Your half-hearted caveat at the end is not enough.

ChipC3 said...

I was at the game last night but didn't sit in my normal seats. I did just miss the elevator when I arrived.

Maybe that was me. I don't know.

Anonymous said...

If there is smoke around the Forum. It will only be a matter of time b4 the fire shows itself.

Chip, if you're able to answer these two questions. It would be helpful.

What is the status on Darko's sprained ankle and will he be able to play on Wednesday or he will not be able to play?

NancyW said...

I wasn't at the game last night, but while watching the game on TV I'll have to agree with this reporter's assessment of the negative body language/facial expression from Kyle.

With all the excitement and anticipation during the offseason, please say this isn't so concerning Ivy's relationship with his players! I'm hoping that it's just a case of a reporter drumming up a juicy story.

ChipC3 said...

Nancy you know I am not a reporter. I'm a fan and watching the game in person it really didn't look very good.

By the way, Ron Tillery has an excellent blog up now with Iavaroni's explanation of the foul/no foul decision. It's on the Memphis Edge.

Raps Fan said...

i don't get to see as many games as you guys, but from what i have seen, there are problems in the locker room.

granted there have been injuries, but there is just too much on this team for them to be performing so badly. the two games they played the raptors were a surprise for me. i expected a better showing.

when your all-star doesn't seem motivated, there is definitely a problem.

as far as sam smith is concerned...could all be speculation. he is from chicago, and they do want gasol, but at what price? i think gasol is worth more than nocioni and thomas.

as far as posting a comment anonymously, and chastising a blogger for his thoughts, that is ridiculous. have a spine and use your identity when you dress down someone for editorial responsibility.

ChipC3 said...

Unfortunately I don't have any updates on Darko but I can tell you this, Darko looked like he was in a lot of pain on the court and left the building wearing a boot. I think the chances of Darko playing Wednesday night is extremely remote. I think the chance of Darko playing at all in this road trip is very small as well but that is only my opinion. I have no idea right now whether or not he will play in any of these games.

Anonymous said...

Is it Mr or Mrs "raps fan"? What do you want -- my name and address? Sorry I didn't feel like making up a totally original name like "raps fan" when reponding to this blog. BTW, great critique! Way to key in on the substance of my comments.

bobobolas said...

just congratulations. im glad i found this blog. i love grizzssss.

Jason said...

I think the tension is nothing more than growing pains. Its hard to be enthusiastic when you have a losing record. Losing so many close games is a morale killer for the team. Everyone is learning and adjusting, from the bottom to the top. This takes TIME. Rumors and false speculations do nothing but set us back further. Have faith Memphis, a couple of W's make everything better.

ChipC3 said...

Anyone interested in knowing Darko Milicic's status will be happy to hear that he is a game time decision but Darko said he intends to play tonight against Houston and Rudy Gay said that he worked out with the team and he expects him to play.

This doesn't mean Darko will be playing or that he will be effective if he does play but apparently the injury isn't as severe as I originally expected.