Welcome to another Sunday Chronicle. I will review the previous week (hopefully wins, probably losses), preview the upcoming week (can I just go ahead say upcoming losses?), and the whole post is going to painted with lots of enticing blue links.
More On Pau and the Direction of the Team
The Pau trade is still reverberating around the Griz fanbase like a magnitude 8.0 earthquake. I would say half or more of the local fans are upset about the trade. And some of those fans wanted Pau traded!! What is causing such uproar is the combination of fans that a) didn't want Pau trade, b) thought we didn't get enough in return for Pau, and c) think Heisley is wrecking the franchise.
Although Heisley denied it in the CA, there are rumblings locally and nationally that Heisley is looking to cut cost as he either looks to make the franchise more attractive on the market or simply limit losses as the team struggles to win.
Should we be worried about Heisley cutting costs? Probably. With the departure of Andy Dolich, I'll go out on a limb and guess the business side of the Grizzlies front office is trimmed down significantly and currently not working very hard day-to-day. Is the basketball side of the front office and coaching staff being trimmed down too? Are we employing sufficient college scouts, NBA scouts, advance scouts, and coaching support staff? Those questions point towards issues that are more important in terms of the quality of the actual basketball product being on display than who are the business suits does. There are some rumors as to who will replace Andy Dolich, but I really don't care about that. I'm more concerned with the make-up and direction of the basketball roster.
Should we be worried that Heisley's cost cutting directives will dictate the roster be assembled on the cheap? Well, yes and no, really.
Of course we should be worried and skeptical of Heisley's direction (and influence) on the actual Grizzlies basketball players. However, it is my opinion that this team should likely be assembled on the cheap anyway. We are a small market team that is in the beginning of a rebuilding phase. It makes sense to keep the team at or below the salary cap limit by using a number of talented (ding, ding, we have our word of the day) young players. It is likely that next year our salary total may be well below the cap limit of ~58 million, although I do not believe that will be the norm. I think most years Chris Wallace will do his best to keep the total salary right at or slightly below the soft salary cap limit (like this year). That is probably the smart plan for our market. Not until the talented young guys we choose to build around take this team close to contention, should Chris Wallace (or Heisley, whoever you want to pretend is making decisions) let the total salary exceed the soft salary cap limit.
I am in agreement with Wallace that Pau needed to be traded. The current Griz salaries needed to be restructured with an eye more towards a future with younger, more talented players. Keeping Pau around was going to limit the flexibility to accomplish that.
This team was not going anywhere with Pau and his massive salary commitment as a part of the team. There would not be enough cap room or roster flexibility to bring in much extra talent. And make no mistake about it, this team needs a serious talent upgrade to eventually be serious competitors in the Western Conference. If we stayed pat with Pau, we could go into next year with another high draft pick added to the roster and probably still only marginally improve. We could also trade off some of our current role players for different role players and again maybe marginally get better. One way to have the chance to really jump up the Western Conference standings in the next 2-3 years is to get new, young and superior talent on the team. That was going to be extremely difficult to do with Pau and his contract on the team.
Of course other lesser reasons also apply when making the case against Pau being the franchise cornerstone. This team was the same statistically with or without Pau in the lineup (not a good fact for the highest paid player and offensive #1 option). Pau's health also seemed to be becoming an issue (and summer activity could further along those problems). Pau, as the franchise player, was 0-12 in the playoffs, and we needed to get past that and have a new culture and pecking order emerge.
Wallace (or Heisley, you choose) decided to get cap space and iffy draft pick selections in return for Pau. Maybe we could have done better, but likely Wallace didn't like any of the current talent being offered in return, so he decided to go with future, still undecided talent. This will likely result in a plan that relies heavy on young talent.
With cap room to spend, draft picks to play with and possibly one more valuable veteran to trade for a pu-pu platter (i..e, Mike Miller), I think Wallace IS going to be able to succeed at bringing a talent flux to Memphis. Trading Pau for the flexibility to do so, certainly puts more pressure on Wallace to find talent. I think Wallace will keep the team moving forward on a solid basketball plan despite Heisley's cost cutting ways. The West is loaded right now and focusing on building around young, extremely talented players and their future development is a reasonable plan.
I also want to say how stupid that Chad Ford article last week was. I don't have a link for it right now, but Ford had a number of trades listed that he simply pulled out of his butt. Ford claimed that all were better than what we got from LA. The catch is that I can't see very many of those trades that were reasonable or that the other team would also do the proposed trade. Ford had a Chicago trade mentioned that put the Bulls over the luxary tax, which they are reported to have refused to do. Clearly that trade wasn't plausible. Ford also has teams like the Spurs and Warriors trading half their team for Pau alone. In what world does that make sense? Is that even legal? No playoff contender is going to gut their team for Pau Gasol.
--Pau.....had to be traded for the Griz to move forward successfully
--Griz.....need more talent
--Future Plan.....create a nucleus of talented players in their lower 20's
Shades of Blue Week in Review
Darko's Redemption (Darko fans, at this point this might be the most positive article you can find...cherish it)
Power Rankings (If you makes you feel any better, the Lakers got a first place vote)
Wondering about Wages of Wins (Chip chats with his ole buddy)
Wallace Explains Pau Trade to Ticket Holders in Stunning Presentation (Just read it if you haven't yet)
Welcome Back to Dunkyland (Let's just say that the Pau trade didn't help brighten the opinion that Spartacus holds for Heisley)
Griz Week in Review
Newsflash...we aren't quite burning up the league right now. The Griz went 0-3 this week and have now lost 6 in a row overall, 4 in a row at home, and 8 in a row on the road.
Each night, Rudy Gay is now asked to be the #1 option and alpha dog on the court. I think Rudy got better each game as the week progressed. That is a good sign. Now that Rudy is playing the 4 more, rebounding better seems to have became a priority. On offense, Rudy has to find a game-to-game consistency of being aggressive and finding his shots. Lots of his shots.
Conley returned from injury this week and resumed his starting PG spot. His presence is badly needed for a team looking to find an identity on offense. Our offense right now needs to resemble the merging of Gay and Conley's game. I think we might be seeing Miller used too much as a play maker and Darko used too much as a post threat. I understand the need for variety and getting the whole team involved, but jeez, we suck, let's lean on our 2 best players more. That is Conley and Gay. Other teams don't mind using 2 players to dominate the offense flow, we need to.
Best Game of the Week: Griz Play Well, Stay True to Form and Allow Bucks to Steal the Late Win.
This was a weird home game, as tornadoes were causing destruction all over the area. Some 2000-3000 fans braved the elements to watch the game. The upper deck was closed off and everybody moved down. Notable was Kwame Brown getting a (small) standing ovation upon his entrance. The most exciting play was a Lowry-Gay alley-oop connection in the 1st quarter. The Griz played decent against a depleted Bucks roster. But in the end, Mo Williams took the game from the Griz and again showed how bad the Griz pick-and-roll defense is.
Worst Game of the Week: Dallas Lays Down the Smack in the 2nd and 3rd Quarters
Blah. The Griz held their own early and late, but couldn't handle the Mavs in the middle of the game. Rudy started strong and finished weak. At one point in the 4th, quarter garbage time, Conley, JCritt, and Navarro were all on the floor together. There will probably be too many of these games during the rest of the season.
--99-112 Loss to the Hornets. I hate the Hornets. Maybe more than any other Griz opponent. They completed a sweep of us this season, but at least no one scored 40 or more points this time. Conley returned to the starting lineup and played really good against Chris Paul. Coach I stuck with a short rotation as Conley/Navarro/Miller/Gay/Darko played major minutes.
Player of the Week: The Fans
The Fans deserve a nod this week for a couple of thousand strong braving some of the most serious storms since Hurricane Elvis, all to watch the Griz play. Many fans did not know if their houses were or were not in harms way while watching the game. Fans that didn't go to the Bucks game because of the weather can get a free ticket to some other game, but I think fans that did go should get a free ticket.
Griz Killer of the Week: Mo Williams
Mo dropped 32 points and 7 dimes on Tuesday. He was particularly clutch late, sinking a basket that broke a tie and essentially won the game.
Herrington and Verno Links of the Week:
Gasol Trade: 20 Questions by Herrington
Trade Post Mortem with Chris Wallace by Herrington
Pau Trade, Slight Return by Herrington
Wallace was not happy, audio of Wallace on Vernon Show
The Pau Trade a Few Days Later by Verno
Griz Week Ahead
Short week ahead for the Griz with only a pair of back-to-back games on Tuesday/Wednesday.
--Tuesday versus Sacramento
--Wednesday at Philadelphia
Possibly, both games are winnable. That is a nice change. I don't have much to say about either game, really. The Kings will attack our defense using the deadly Beno pick-and-roll and then use sharp shooters Martin and Garcia on the outside. To beat the Kings, I'd like to see the Griz have more success from beyond the arc. Against the 76ers, our little guards can't let Dalembert continually stuff their basket drives.
I predict that Micheal Conley is going to play great in both games.
One Last Rudy Photo