Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How Did The Josh Smith Signing Fit Into the 3 Year Plan?

A lot has been made lately about the team not really having a three year plan and that the whole thing is just a smokescreen to cover the fact that the team is cutting costs.

That is a very narrow view of what the 3 year plan is in my mind. There has never been a statement that the team will not make moves while working within the framework of the three year plan. The Josh Smith signing was just an attempt to make a move.

Heisley said on April 4th that he was willing to spend money right now if he could acquire a star talent but that player had to fit within the framework of the three year plan. Heisley wants a team that matures at the same time.

Josh Smith, at only 23 years old, obviously fit that mold.

Heisley also said that he is not willing to spend a ton of money for a player that isn't of star quality. This could be interpreted to mean that the only other player the Grizzlies may get involved with in free agency would be Andre Iquodala but AI doesn't fill a need on the team assuming Mayo is going to play SG for the Grizzlies as it appears he will.

So the Josh Smith signing fits perfectly in the 3 year plan. It is unfortunate that he won't be playing for the Grizzlies next season but that doesn't mean the plan is to be forgotten either. The Grizzlies are building for the future and looking for a myriad of players who could fit the bill. The Grizzlies aren't looking for veterans who will be too old to contribute when the Grizzlies are moving from playoff contender to Championship contender.

If there is one thing the Josh Smith signing should do is put to bed the ridiculous assumption that the Grizzlies are unwilling to spend money to improve the team. The 'smokescreen' excuse promoted by a local radio personality should exposed now for the over-reaction it was. Yes Heisley has hired a replacement for Jerry West for a lot less money. Yes he replaced Andy Dolich for a less money too. Yes he has scaled back operations. That doesn't mean he is not going to spend money on the Grizzlies.

Michael Heisley is now and has been willing to spend money to improve the team. He is unwilling to continue to have the most expensive front office in the league on a team that couldn't win a playoff team existing in one of the smallest markets in the league. That isn't cheap. That is good business and the NBA is still a business.

I am disappointed that the Grizzlies signed Josh Smith since forcing him to sign the Qualifying Offer and becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer would have given the team a better opportunity to sign him in my opinion but I understand the rational behind making the offer as well. I didn't expect it and I disagree with it but I do understand it.

The signing does not mean the 3 year plan is dead or a sham. It just showed that the plan is flexible enough to take chances. Sometimes they pay off. Sometimes they don't.

BallHype: hype it up!


zack said...

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.

zack said...


So, in my humble opinion, take what Heisley and Wallace say with a grain of salt. Being earnest is only going to force them to lie.

Chip Crain said...

What money has Heisley spent this summer?

nbaroundtable said...

I don't doubt that Michael Heisley will spend money. I fully believe him when he says he'll spend it on the right talent.

That said I don't consider the bid for Josh Smith to be a serious attempt at signing him. The offer was never high enough to put the Hawks in a difficult situation, to consider not re-signing him. That was clear the minute the offer sheet was made and backed up by the Hawks matching the offer straight away. If the Grizzlies did want to acquire Josh Smith they knew that it would cost more than they offered. Atlanta were delighted to see that contract.

I also think Michael Heisley is unrealistic in his expectations. I don't have anything to really back this up, it's just a feeling I get from him whenever he gives an interview including the great interview late last season on this excellent site.

He seems to expect to be able to acquire a top notch player with his money. No top player is coming to Memphis without a great team, coach, front office already in place. There will always be another team offering equal money with a better situation until the Grizzlies take significant steps forward.

Until that happens, or without that happening, that leaves the next tier of free agents. That means overpaying a younger player with potential that the organization feels can grow into a star. Much like Washington did with Gilbert Arenas and Utah did with Carlos Boozer. I don't think Michael Heisley truly accepts this and the Josh Smith offer sheet has only re-inforced my opinion here because he refused to pay the necessary amount to pry him away or to even make Atlanta blink. I also felt he was a bit gun shy about other young players this summer refusing to go after them instead hoping for a top notch proven talent free agent signing in the future.

We'll have to wait and see to find out for sure, see what ownership does in free agency next summer and possibly the following summer, but I can't shake the feeling that there are unrealistic expectations from the leadership at the Grizz. I hope I'm wrong, time will tell.