Monday, March 31, 2008

Les Misérables - The Sequel

Seriously, I can not express how happy I am that this season is coming to an end. Losing over 110 games in two seasons drains the soul of even the most fanatical Grizz backer. When you add in the circus atmosphere that has accompanied this losing, it becomes even more difficult. I am truly looking forward to the off season, so I can recharge my (false?) hope for next season.

Fortunately this season has not been a complete waste. (1) The Grizzlies finally came to their senses and traded away Pau Gasol. Even if it came at the expense of being the joke of the NBA for a few weeks as Kobe led the Lakers on a destruction tour of the NBA. However, in the end this is the trade that truly starts our rebuilding. (2) Rudy Gay has emerged as a true offensive option. Although I still don't think he has the mentality of a championship level 1st option, he has exceeded my expectation after his lukewarm rookie season. I hope that the Grizzlies can get a player better than Gay to help him out. (3) The young guys are closing out the season playing hard and smart. It is a feather in the cap of Marc Iavaroni that this team continues to play hard on a nightly basis despite the rumors of him being fired and the lure of tanking. (4) Darko is slowly developing into a legit big man. Iavaroni might think about getting him even more minutes because the team seems to perform much better when he is on the court.

Luckily for the Grizzlies, the University of Memphis Tigers are deflecting attention away from this horrid season with their exciting run to the Final Four. Derrick Rose has emerged as a challenger to Kansas State's Michael Beasley as the #1 pick in the 2008 NBA draft. This should make it a nice little bridge from Final Four euphoria to the tempered thoughts of the Memphis Grizzlies potentially getting in position to draft Rose.

For the Grizzlies to have a chance at Derrick Rose we will have to overcome I seemingly snake bit lottery history and get the #1 or #2 pick in the NBA draft lottery. Expectations for this should be at an all time low after the Oden/Durant pain of 2007. In fact, I have not met one Grizzlies fan that has any expectation other than getting the worse possible pick we can get on lottery night. That is really sad.

Also it seems that the local ownership group has had their fill of dealing with Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley. They decided to leave about $50 million on the table and reduce their ownership stake instead of paying their portion of the losses and staying in business with Heico. For some Memphians, this is the ultimate doom and gloom scenario and the team's moving to another city is a inevitable conclusion. I don't think so. I also don't think Heisley is trying to run the team into the ground, I simply think he does not know what he is doing and is frustrated that when he hired the supposed best executive in NBA history (Jerry West), West never lifted the organization out of mediocrity. West left town with over $25 million of Heisley's money and the organization in the same exact shape he found it. Must be nice!
So, what does the future hold for the Memphis Grizzlies. I think it all depends on the lottery. Heisley needs something good to happen to his team so he can get excited again about it. Nobody buys an NBA team to have it be a bottom feeder. He wants to win. He especially wants to win more than the Chicago Bulls. Never under estimate the vanity of professional sports ownership. Heisley would like nothing better than to be able to invite his Chicago friends down to little old Memphis and watch his team play some damn good basketball. Right now, he is embarrassed and he is pouting. I expect Heisley to want to make a big splash that signals he is playing to win. I expect the team to close the season well enough to make the firing of Iavaroni unrealistic. The team will surpass last years win total and win close to the same amount of games(23) they were on pace to win(24) before giving away Gasol. In other words, the team gave him away and were basically the same after they adjusted. Go figure.

BallHype: hype it up!


ChipC3 said...

I really liked this blog but there is one point that I think needs to be clarified.

The Grizzlies are not the same as they were when Gasol played for them. Memphis was 13-31 after the last game Pau played for the team. That is a winning percentage of 29.55% against the most brutal part of the schedule.

Since Pau's departure the team is winning just 20.69% of their games and that is against opponents not as talented as those the Grizzlies played earlier in the season.

The net effect is the same. The Grizzlies were bad and are still bad but the level of poor play has gotten dramatically worse not stayed the same. Only over the last few weeks, when the schedule has been ridiculously easy has it appeared the team is as good as they were with Gasol.

That is not to say that the team shouldn't have moved Gasol or that the future isn't brighter with the draft picks and FA money. I am simply saying the team has gotten worse this season since the deal.

Anonymous said...

You think the sequel is awful. Wait for the trilogy coming in the fall.

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