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.