Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Interesting Conversations - Post Gasol Press Conference

I tried to tape the entire press conference introducing (or should I say re-introducing) Marc to Memphis but the quality was terrible and you can listen to everything said during the conference over at the Grizzlies web site so why bother?

What I did get that no one else probably has is some private time with Michael Heisley, Kevin O'Neill and Marc Gasol after the press conference where I could fill in some blanks from both this conference and the previous one introducing O J Mayo and Darrell Arthur to town.

First up I wanted to talk to Mr. Heisley. As usual once you get Mr. Heisley talking you know two things. He will answer your question to the best of his ability and he will tell you what he wants you to hear. With that in mind her is what Mr. Heisley and I talked about.

3SOB: Mr. Heisley, a question came up recently about some comments you made at the last press conference about wanting the Grizzlies to be competitive in 2-3 years. What exactly does competitive mean to you.
Mr. Heisley: Well it means to me that hopefully we will be a threat to be in the playoffs or in the playoffs and more importantly we will have the nucleus of the team in place so we can add to it that nucleus to be a championship contending team. We take the young players and they develop that is the basic nucleus of the team. Then when we get into that position and we have the salary cap room we hope to have then we can bring in one or two free agents and we could be a good force. That is my idea. Three years I expect to be in the playoffs. In three years I don't expect to be national champions.

Now maybe I'll be wrong but I would say that if people want to see the Grizzlies come out and I think you are going to see a totally different team. I brought in Kevin O'Neill. Kevin O'Neill is a fantastic defensive coach. He's involved in the practices down here now. He's making a world of difference. I feel we're in a place where we might be young, we might get beat but I want people to not want to come in here and play. That's the kind of team I want. The type of team that Boston was, that Detroit has been for years, that Michael Jordan and the Bulls were, people think of Michael Jordan as a scorer but he was probably as good a defensive player as there was in the NBA. There were two or three guys who were almost as good as he was [defensively], so when they played in the playoffs teams didn't get 80 points. It wasn't hard to beat them.

That's what I'd like to see. I'd like to see a team that first of all starts with a great defense and then has good offense. This idea that you are going to have an offensive team that is going to outscore every team in the NBA is becoming more and more a fallacy. Maybe some fans like it but I think fans enjoy winning a hell of a lot more. Now I don't want to see a dull team. Did you think it was dull watching what Boston did to LA this year? I didn't think it was dull at all. When you saw them shut down Kobe, I didn't think that was dull at all. I thought that was pretty spectacular.

That's the kind of thing I'd like to see. Now you can add scoring to that but if you are going to try and be a winner in the playoffs of the NBA then it's pretty obvious you are going to need to play defense. Phoenix finally recognized that and gave up on it.

So that's my philosophy. I hope 2-3 years from now we are a playoff contending team. One of the younger teams in the league with a nucleus of players that has the ability to go on to get good players.

3SOB: You had a meeting with Iavaroni at the end of the season and basically said you expect to see improvement over the next 12 months. With a 3 yr outlook to becoming competitive, how does that fit with him and his situation?
Mr. Heisley: Marc's going to have to show he can run this team. It's that simple. Last year was not acceptable and Marc will tell you that. I wasn't happy with it. I think Marc understands that. I think with Kevin O'Neill working with Marc on defense, and Marc has a lot of talent, he's got a lot of knowledge, he's just got to put it together. Remember last year was his first year as a head coach ever. At any level. And we had some bad nights. When I met with him I wanted to see what he has absorbed from last year.

My point is that it's 3 years. We aren't there yet. That's not just Marc that's everybody. Period. Now there won't be any decisions in the press. I am committed to this. It's what I said after the draft.

I think this is great. Everybody thinks that Pau Gasol was so terrible. Well now we have Darrell Arthur. Okay? He ain't bad! And if his brother turns out to be as good as we hope he can be...Now I am not going to say he's going to be the best center in the league but I really do hope he can be a contributing center in the league so now you have two pieces. Plus you got the cap room. So we don't look so stupid (as we did a few months ago).

The point is Gasol comes from the same family as his brother did and yet he's a totally different player than his brother but if he can be as good as his brother I would be ecstatic. My point is that he's not going to be. He's a different player. I think his game is rougher. I think he's more of a traditional post up, back to the basket center. I think he's more of a rebounder, more of a defensive player but like his brother he's a good passer and quite frankly he's a good quality kid. He comes over with an advantage Pau did not come over with in that he's been in the United States. He knows the country and the people. He spent two years of high school here plus his family is here.

So I am really intrigued to see what he turns out like. He'll get every opportunity and if Darko doesn't step up then he'll be able to get a lot of minutes.

The talks with Kevin O'Neill and Marc Gasol will be posted later.

BallHype: hype it up!


Shawn said...

Would you say that interview lends support to the claim that Coach I may be heading out to be replaced by O'neill?

Chip Crain said...

I think the ball is in Iavaroni's court. If the team improves then Iavaroni will be back. If Iavaroni continues to make bonehead decisions at the end of the game, continues to allow the team to play poor defense and fails to educate and motivate the team to improve thru the season then he's a goner and I am sure not one person, myself included, would miss him.

Matt said...

Marc was a terrific defensive coach here in Phoenix. How do you expect to win when you trade your best player and refuse to sign free agents? What a nightmare. Marc is a great guy too, just hope he can get a head job with a real franchise. The Memphis Grizzlies are the Arizona Cardinals of the NBA.