Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Trouble with Being Earnest

There is nothing inherently better or more certain to spending our cap space at the trade deadline this season, in the summer of '09, or in the summer of '10 compared to spending some of it this summer...
A quote from the Memphis Grizzlies Message Board

This attitude is seemingly spreading around the Grizzlies fan community lately and also among people wanting the team to make more dramatic moves than they have seen so far this summer. Not that trading Mike Miller and Kevin Love for O J Mayo wasn't a dramatic move.

While I empathize with this emotion I also have heard enough times from Chris Wallace and Michael Heisley this summer to realize this isn't going to happen. The leadership for the Grizzlies has been focused almost since the draft that they were not going to be spending the cap space this summer. They were going to focus on developing the youth on the team and when the players proved they could become a .500 team (and what was missing became more obvious) Heisley and the Grizzlies would provide them with what they needed to go the rest of the way.

People may disagree with the strategy but they can't act surprised the team is pursuing this strategy. Lest we forget, the Grizzlies have lost a lot of money over the last few seasons and there is nothing inherently better or more certain spending the money now instead of waiting to see what is available in 2009 or 2010 except spending it now without ticket sales supporting the move will just make the franchise less profitable.

This coming season the team is going to put the rookies into the fire and see what they are made of. The leaders of the franchise realize that this won't increase attendance this season. People will support winners and that is what the team is building toward over the next three seasons. Next summer the team will add another lottery pick and will be forced to spend at least some of the cap space because they will likely be below the minimum salary mark for teams in the league.

There is discipline in sticking to the plan for the future and not make moves that would hamper the teams flexibility. There is logic in developing the young players and then look to attract players who want to be a part of the growth of the team rather than throwing money at players merely interested in getting the biggest payday they can this summer. There is common business thought that you don't want to create expenses that inflows won't pay for.

There will come a time when the wallet will need to be opened and Heisley has stated frequently that when that time comes he will step up to the plate. Heisley knows that failure to invest in a business is a sure fire way for that business to fail and Heisley isn't known as a man who lets business' fail. Heisley is known as a man who turns around bad businesses and makes them profitable and successful.

So just because the business of the Grizzlies actually has some money they can spend doesn't mean the team should empty out the savings account to buy the newest hot thing on the market. Without fully understanding what the future needs of the business will be, it makes little sense to buy something you may not need or desire in the very near future.

I believe that is what Heisley, Wallace, Iavaroni and just about everyone connected with the Grizzlies have been telling people all summer. They have a lot of pieces here but they don't know yet how they will work together and until The Grizzlies brain trust knows what else is needed, it doesn't make any sense to spend the money. They are being earnest in what they are saying. They want to wait and make sure of what they need before the incur the expense of bringing someone in. People may not appreciate or understand this thinking but they are telling the truth about the strategy they are employing.

And that is the trouble with being earnest.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good post, Chip.

What this team needs probably more than anything is stability, and that has to come from the top down. Yet again, like last season, we'll be starting with a slew of new players on our roster (Toine, Mayo, Jaric, Arthur, Buckner). Wallace and Iavaroni are only in their second years with the team. Rudy, Hak & Kyle are playing for their third coach in three years. Best player traded halfway through season. Team almost sold, then NOT sold.

All that's to say is that a clear vision for the future, along with a show of commitment to it, isn't a bad thing, given what the team's been through. It shows some stability, that we're not flailing down here.

And, like I've said before, I've got a hunch our guys are going to exceed expectations this year, especially if Kevin O'Neill gets them to play even decent defense. If he turns them into defensive hawks, look out.

L3E

John said...

The stated theory makes absolutely ZERO sense from a business perspective. The Grizz are the only team in the NBA with significant cap space THIS YEAR. Supply and demand ...very very simple math. They can make offers on all of the RFA's with impunity and each of their offers will be taken seriously. Why? because they are the only ones with money.

Instead they are keeping their cap space for another year when they get to compete with some of the more attractive franchises: Miami, L.A, Chicago, NY, etc.

So when we go to spend our cap space.... we will be competing with those teams and the lure to play in Memphis will be what again?

Anonymous said...

Kwame the expiring contract signed a two year deal with the Pistons.

I hope the peanut gallery comes out in full force to remind the Pistons how much he sucks. God knows everyone gave us a breakdown of his talent (as if we cared about him past his contract) a few months ago.

If any other team had hired that slug, they would have been laughed at.
But since its Detroit, they'll get a 'they must know what they are doing'.
This is the team that thought that C-Webb would change a lifetime of choking and sad puppy eyes at crunch time and help them in the playoffs.

Jason Collins has no physical skills or talent but I so much preferred having him on the court than Brown who acts like he has never been in a ball game in his life.
Imagine if someone dropped your in the middle of a cricket, rugby or handball game and told you the rules as you are starting the game: THAT'S how he plays.


Talk to Raptors fans about Oneill's supposed defensive prowess.

Chip Crain said...

John - Just because you have money doesn't mean you need to spend money. Right now Josh Smith will have very little impact on the quality of next season's team, will deter Darrell Arthur from getting playing time and if the Grizzlies signed him to a big deal could make it even more difficult to resign all of the FA's the Grizzlies have coming up over the next few years.

Just having cash isn't a valid reason to make an offer no matter how few teams can compete.

Tom S. said...

I appreciate rational thought Chip, but I can't take it seriously because you're so far up Heisley's ass. Don't get your feelings hurt if someone disagrees with you, and has a valid point as well.

Anonymous said...

Tom, that was crass, rude and unnecessary. Do you accuse other people who rationally think it's wise to hold our cash of being "far up Heisley's ass?"

I'm not about to get into a flame-off. That was just mean-spirited. Whether you care or not is on you.

As for my remarks on Kevin O'Neill, I did find this on him, from when he was fired in Toronto:

"O'Neill was first with the Knicks under Jeff Van Gundy. Next came a lead assistant position in Detroit under Rick Carlisle. There he was responsible for getting the Pistons to be one of the best defensive teams in the league. Along with coaching for the NBA, he also was a head coach for NCAA schools Northwestern, Tennesse, and Marquette.

O'Neill feels that the franchise is more excited being part of the NBA rather than winning. "I can just tell you right now, the focus is not on winning here all the way through the organization all the time. There needs to be drastic measures taken," said O'Neill on Thursday, during the post-season news conference."

So we learn these things about Kevin O'Neill:
1. He's going to be an ASSISTANT here, not head coach.
2. He's served as lead assistant for two head coaches known for their defensive-minded teams: Jeff Van Gundy and Rick Carlisle.
3. He's passionate about winning games.

As I have stated elsewhere, this may be our biggest pickup of the offseason. But we shall see.

L3E

Jacob (the artist formerly known as Grizz GM) said...

Chip, I just can't agree with what you are saying. When business is slow you don't purposely slow it down even more and say, "It'll be better in 3 years." Heisley wants to be able to compete in 3 years, however there are so many risks with injuries, contracts, player progression, that this "strategy" he has put in place is very dangerous in my opinion. I can tell by looking at the roster what the team's deficiencies are: defense, toughness, rebounding. Anybody who watches the team on a regular basis can tell you that if these three things are addressed we would have a better chance to win more games. I can understand if Heisley & Co. thought there weren't any benefitial players our there to pursue, however both Josh Smith and Emeka Okafor add a defensive and rebounding presence down low (something the Grizz have lacked since Lorenzen Wright). I just cannot stand by and watch as our Grizzlies frontcourt is punished game in and game out.

The front office has no past history that would lead me to believe that they will make good on their promises of a 3 year plan. The Grizzlies front office needs to make sure that they are actually being earnest, and not being manipulative.

zack said...

saying "The leadership for the Grizzlies has been focused almost since the draft that they were not going to be spending the cap space this summer." is somewhat revisionist history...

after the Pau trade, Wallace talked frequently about being a major player in free agency this summer...he did mention that he could wait until the following summer, but he didn't give the impression that they were NOT going to spend any...

and the initial quote on the post does not argue that spending money this summer would make us a better team or that is the clear cut best decision to do...

all it says is that arguing that not spending money this summer will make us better in the future is an incorrect assumption...

neither spending money this summer, next summer, or the summer after that guarantees success....

zack said...

you know, chip I think you did hit on something...

heisley shouldn't have been earnest during the Mayo press conference and talked about the 3 year plan...

telling fans that the 'plan' is the lose in the next season isn't a good decision, IMO...

losing on purpose isn't a good idea....telling the fans that you are losing on purpose is even worse...

Chip Crain said...

That was my point Zack.

Whether or not you agree with the plan the problem was being earnest about what the plan was.

Anonymous said...

Um . . .

This time last year, Portland was expected to tank after losing Greg Oden, The Bulls were supposed to contend for the Eastern Conference Championship, and Kobe was at the edge of being traded.

A lot can happen in a year.

Maybe our team can be better than the sum of its parts. But I'm curious:

Why is the ASSUMPTION that we'll be a sub-25-win team so prevalent here? Am I the only one who sees a bunch of good young talent on our roster?

I know I'm a terminal optimist, but I have to believe that the players on the court will want to win next season, and win NOW, regardless of what Heisley wants (which, he wants to win now, too). You can bet your ass that Kevin O'Neill does.

How can any of you be so confident that we'll suck next season, when we're a full three months away from opening night, and we don't know how Rudy, Conley, OJ, Hak & Marc will play together?

On paper we might suck. But that's why they play the games. . . .

L3E

zack said...

how can you be so sure that we won't suck? or that the 3 year plan guarantees future success?

I think that is the point missing here...

the quote above, which chip should have just referenced to me since I said it...

was meant to highlight that neither spending money now, spending money next summer or the summer after that guarantees success....

the guys that have bought into the 3 year plan hook line and sinker are treating it as some guarantee to success...it is not....just as spending money this summer is not either....

Anonymous said...

Exactly.

As I've pointed out elsewhere, Miami went from the lottery, to the championship, to the worst record in the league in FIVE YEARS . . . WITH Dwyane Wade. There's no way to predict on the court success other than to play the games. That's why they play the games.

And I'm NOT sure we won't suck. But as a fan, I'd rather believe that we have a CHANCE to not suck. Doesn't seem to be the common opinion around here. I admit that my belief is based on no concrete fact, but I guess that's what makes me a fan.

All that said, given the tumult of the past few years, I'm just excited to hear that our guys HAVE a sensible plan for building a contender. Whether it succeeds or not . . .

That's why they play the games.

L3E

jacob (artist formerly known as Grizz GM) said...

with only one player to ever average more than 10 rebounds per game in a season on our roster (antoine walker 1997-98 season), we are almost guaranteed to suck.

MemphisX said...

It really isn't a mystery...the team is going to suck. Anyone thinking different is looking at apples but imagining oranges. No veteran leadership, no interior play, very little outside shooting and a coach on the hot seat.

The team will be lucky to break double digit wins by the MLK game.

Shawn said...

We've done this argument so many times that its getting a bit redundant and extreme.

The three year plan is not a guarantee of success.

Spending now is not a guarantee for success.

The three year plan is not a stupid pointless plan.

Spending now is not stupid and pointless.

Both are strategies or plans for future success with solid reasoning behind them.

You can choose a side if you want but if you cant understand a side then you aren't trying.

Chip Crain said...

I think that last comment sums up things quite well.

It doesn't matter what I wish the team would do or not. All I can say for a fact is what the team has said they are going to do. They have said that the plan is to not spend money this year, develop the young players and see where the team stands later. No use crying over what I would prefer to see the team do. I hope Wallace and Heisley's plan will be successful even if I would have prefered they go a different direction.

One has to wonder if what people would be saying if the team misled us and told us instead that they would try and not accomplish anything. Would that be better than be truthful with everyone?

jacob said...

better to have tried and failed than to not have tried at all... thus far we have not tried at all IMO