Wednesday, July 30, 2008

If Lowry Returns, Will There Be Hard Feelings?

Early this summer, especially after the OJ Mayo trade on draft night, most people assumed that one of the point guards on the team would need to be moved this summer. Mike Conley was Iavaroni and Wallace's first draft pick with the team, even if Jerry West was still lurking around in the background. Javaris Crittenton was the player Wallace insisted on getting from LA in the Pau Gasol trade. O J Mayo was reportedly a natural point guard who could play the shooting guard role. Marco Jaric has been a swing guard who usually played the point. All of these players have been acquired by Chris Wallace and Marc Iavaroni since they arrived in Memphis a little over a year ago.

And then there is Kyle Lowry.

Kyle was already in Memphis before Wallace arrived. Iavaroni's experience as an assistant NBA coach almost always was with point guards who were great outside shooters and passers (Mark Price in Cleveland, Tim Hardaway in Miami and Steve Nash in Phoenix to name a few). Defense from the point was nice but not required.

Kyle is not like those point guards in any respect. His outside shot, while improving, has never been considered threatening, his passing numbers were adequate but not exceptional but his defense has been where he made his mark so far. Deflecting passes, stealing the ball and basically being as physical defensively as any point in the league has been where Kyle earned his reputation. He isn't a classic leader on the court as much as a momentum changer and motivator. Kyle doesn't keep you level and running the system. He gets you fired up and believing anything is possible.

So he isn't exactly a great fit with Iavaroni's past coaching experience, he wasn't chosen to be on the team by Chris Wallace and his name has been floated all around the league with almost every team looking to shore up their PG position until recently. Will that have an effect on Lowry's attitude this season?

Attitude was never an issue before last spring. No one assumed Lowry was anything but a team player and would do everything asked of him. Then came the rumored quote where Lowry said he wanted to be a starting PG in the NBA. Suddenly the stories started to spread that Lowry was unhappy. Lowry wanted out. Lowry wasn't the 'team player' everyone thinks he is and he could become a cancer if he returns. Those rumors have been countered by the Three Amigos Story but not put to bed entirely either.

No one provided proof of course. I honestly don't doubt that Lowry is upset at not starting and that he wants to be a starter in the NBA. You don't get to this level without having the drive and confidence to desire being a starter in the NBA.

That doesn't make you a cancer however.

People have told me that Lowry puts on a public face of being a nice guy. However behind the scenes he is far from a Shane Battier poster boy type of person. Supposedly the bulldog personality we see on the court extends into the locker room and beyond. I don't know if there is any truth to these rumors. I have met Kyle and he was very polite and gracious. I haven't personally noticed anything to back up the rumors I have heard but that doesn't mean they aren't being said.

So after a summer of being talked about in trade rumors, a return to the bench behind Mike Conley looming ahead and the possibility of free agency in the not too distant future (Kyle will be unresticted in 2010) one has to wonder how his mental attitude will be this coming season. Will he be the team player or become a distraction as he looks for an opportunity to get more playing time?

Hopefully this won't be a problem this season. Memphis has enough problems already about the coming season. If Lowry does want out I hope he maintains the 'behind closed door' policy so we don't read about in the papers or hear it on TV. Memphis already has a bad reputation around the country. It doesn't need any more bad publicity.


Mantime said...

I don't quite understand why people believe Kyle Lowry will become a better player than Mike Conley in years to come.

There will be hard feelings, filling up your roster with unproven PG's like the Cavaliers have done for years is not intelligent. What we have is like having two or three first round pick quarterbacks, not logical at all.

Anonymous said...

Next question would have to be:

Will Conley take a backseat to Mayo at the point, assuming Mayo doesn't play SG?

I think training camp and practice competition will work it all out. It would help if Mayo and Critt & Jaric can play SG decently. I actually like having interchangeable parts.


tommyh said...

I love Kyle, and I love the way he plays basketball- fearlessly. But if he asks for a trade, let him go. Maybe Lowry and a future second for Sean Williams of the Nets or something like that could work. The Griz shouldn't keep him if he doesn't want to be here.

Plus I think he does have the talent to become a starting point guard in this league, so let him go to another team without the point guard jam that we have and see how he does. Now this is all if he wants to leave. If he wants to stay, I think the Grizzlies should keep all of our young guards (Conley, Mayo, Lowry and J-Crit) and just see how it works out. Having four guards that all have completely different types of games is a huge advantage in my book. I think we should just see how everything plays out before we make any rash trades.

zack said...

how will conley react to being outplayed by the backup again?