Okay this media access thing is starting to get really time consuming. I am glad the workouts, draft and post-draft events are passed so I can get back to ranting about my thoughts and stop reporting on other people's thoughts.
This is a great day for the Grizzlies and the city of Memphis that we can introduce our draft choices for the 2008 draft.
That was how the press conference opened this afternoon. Well maybe open isn't the proper word. First Wallace introduced the players entourage. You know you have some big time athletes when their entourage are introduced at a press conference. Darrell Arthur brought his AAU coach from Dallas. OJ Mayo brought his advisors and his agent. OJ Mayo's agent also represents LeBron James by the way. Guess which player is supposed to be the bigger star.
But back to the reason for the press conference.
This was rumored to be the draft where the world saw just how dumb Memphis was with the trade of Pau Gasol to the Lakers. After all what value was there in a 2nd round pick and the 28th pick in the draft? Somewhere along the way it turned out a little differently. First Gasol was exposed in the NBA Finals, Marc Gasol turned into a Spanish league stud and now Darrell Arthur who posted a double double in the NCAA championship game. That junk is starting to look like a pretty nice consolation prize. So how did the team go from so dumb to so smart in such a short period of time?
I'll just say that this city has been maligned for not having a lot of luck. I thought we had tremendous luck last night and obviously the basketball staff from the direction of everyone from Mike Heisley on down, we took advantage of that luck to get two lottery talent players in the same draft when you go in with one pick. I thought it was a tremendous job and we were not only good but we were lucky.
Lucky? Sure they were lucky but they were also daring, smart and committed to succeed. Wallace pointed out that once before he had taken a Kansas Jayhawk who had slid in the draft. That pick was Paul Pierce and while he understands Darrell's disappointment in falling, his misfortune was our fortune. Since Paul Pierce just won the NBA Finals MVP the name dropping was understandable.
O J Mayo talked about his surprise at hearing from ESPN that he had been traded to Memphis as Rudy Gay was walking into his draft day party. Either Rudy had some inside knowledge or the coincidence was too remarkable but either way it is nice to know that the two biggest names on the Grizzlies roster are comfortable enough with each other for Rudy to stop by Mayo's party to say hi.
I'm just happy to be here. I want to fit in the best I can, bring a winning attitude and just help out as much as I can. I'm just so happy to be here and to be a part of this organization.
OJ said all the right things, as you would expect from a player that has been under the spotlight since 7th grade. It was interesting to hear that Mayo didn't know anyone from the organization until the Saturday workout in Chicago. Mayo's workout didn't really have a lot to do with the organization wanting to get him. It did confirm that attitude however. Wallace didn't need to see the workout to understand the potential OJ Mayo possessed.
Wallace stated that Mayo was pushed hard for an hour and a half without hardly a break and still was going strong at the end of the workout. That conditioning and attitude is what Memphis wants Mayo to empart throughout the team. That type of performance combined with the background work of the team made this trade simple.
I know the Pau Gasol trade isn't a real popular one in some circles. To get OJ and have to trade Mike Miller is not a real popular one. We are committed to putting a really competitive team on the floor. I set a target, and you have to have a target in the future, of 3 years... and quite frankly we can't use someone as a part of that strategy who will be over 30 at that point. Chris and I made a decision to make these decisions and we aren't going to be swayed by whether or not it is popular or not popular. When we put a winning team on the floor then we will be popular. Until then we put a winning team on the floor we're not going to be popular. That's just the nature of the game.
I know our regular readers have heard me say that Heisley may be blunt but he is honestly blunt. This is a prime example of what I mean. Miller was included in the trade because he was going to be too old to be a major contributor when the team gets to be competitive and it will take a player of OJ Mayo's talent to get us over the hump when we reach that stage. I really liked what Heisley said when asked if it got contentious in the Draft War Room. Heisley said 'I guess I would put a couple of different words: confusing, verbal and intense.' What was surprising to me was how Heisley credited so many other people for their inputs. He said that so many people had their opinions and everyone was allowed to have those opinions heard. Everything was vetted for many hours but in the end Chris and he had to make a final determination and they did. The buck stopped at Heisley and Wallace but a lot of people were allowed to discuss it before that decision was made. It goes along with Heisley's belief that you don't make a hard decision until you have to. Heisley talked about how the draft team was up til 2:00 AM on Wednesday night to make sure everyone got to have their opinions heard.
I'm looking for three years from today Memphis having a team
which is a contending team which can then be built into into an NBA Championship franchise. That's what we're trying to do. Every decision we make should be looked at as how are we doing to reach that goal.
I don't know what else needs to be said at this time.