Saturday, September 20, 2008

Grading the Josh Smith Signing

By Chip, Josh and Kirk

Or how does this move by the Grizzlies help the team in the 3 Year Plan?

Michael Heisley said after the big trade to acquire O.J. Mayo back in late June that all moves by the Grizzlies from this point forward should be viewed in regards to the Grizzlies established Three Year Plan (TYP). Since then the team has signed Marc Gasol to a 3 year contract for a relatively small amount of money. That move clearly sits well in regards to a 3 year plan. They have been rumored to be involved in trade discussions with Orlando, New York, Atlanta, New Jersey and a host of other teams but nothing has come of those rumors as of yet.

Then there was the one definitive move of signing Josh Smith, an unrestricted free agent of the Altanta Hawks to a 5 year deal for a reported $58 million. Once the Hawks received the offer they immediately matched the offer and therefore locked up Josh Smith with the team for at least one year. How should fans judge this move in regards to the TYP?

3 Shades of Blue asked this question to each of our writers. Only three responded which should give you an idea of how much editorial clout people have on this site. So in opposite order of seniority here are thier opinions.

Well, in my honest and humble opinion, losing Josh Smith hurt, but we were all aware from the first moment that Atlanta would match the offer sheet we signed him to. Signing Josh Smith would have been fantastic for both the team and the franchise in general, but with the low ball offer we gave him, we all knew it was nothing but a pipedream at best. Josh Smith would have given us the athletic 4 we have been so desperately needing, as well as given Rudy an upcoming star to be paired with. If Conley and Mayo develop the way they should, and according to plan, then you would have an extremely formidable 1-4 that could compete with any other in the league. Then you could plug any stiff you deem appropriate at the 5 spot, and his assignment should be nothing more than shot blocking, setting picks, and clogging the lane.

Honestly, not signing Josh Smith really has no effect on the "3 year plan", because according to it, we are trying to build a team that can compete by that time. We still have 3 years left.... I will reserve judgement till after the offseaon following this basketball season, and see if the team has improved both on the court, and on paper as well. Who knows, with another strong draft and sound decisions in free agency, we truly could have the type of team Mr. Heisley is hoping for.

All I can say is the kool-aid sure is delicious, so we should all start drinking it.

Chip Crain:
I think the signing of Josh Smith was a great public relations move but little else. As Kirk already stated, there was little chance that Atlanta wouldn't match the offer. Josh Smith is an up and coming star in this league along the lines of Andre Iguodala, Luol Deng and Monta Ellis. Each of those players resigned with their teams for far more money than the Grizzlies offered Smith. It was a pipe dream to assume Atlanta would allow Smith to leave with no compensation. It did however get people around the country in general and Memphis in particular to start thinking that Heisley wasn't solely interested in running the cheapest operation in the league.

Since public relations are not a component of making a team competitive for the playoffs that bit of emotional lift does nothing in regards to the team's 3 year plan. What it did do is take off the market a player who the Grizzlies could have tried to sign next summer with their free cap space. By offering him the contract and having it matched by Atlanta, Josh Smith won't be a free agent for 5 more years. 5 years is outside of the 3 year time frame Heisley established. Even if the Grizzlies couldn't sign Smith next summer that is one fewer player for other teams to use their cap space.

So if we are only judging the signing in a three year window it would seem that this hurt the team.

Joshua Coleman:
Before the signing took place, I made my feelings about Josh Smith quite clear. In the time since then, we've learned that Smith showed up in Atlanta more muscular and physically imposing, appearing ready to play the position of PF. And you know what? Doesn't change my opinion a great deal, even though I rate him more highly as on the "Big Change Capability Potential Meter" as a result of those physical improvements. (Yeah, I just made that up, by the way.)

So, how does his signing affect the much ballyhooed TYP? Well, as has already been noted, it received some good publicity on many fronts, although there were plenty of people who viewed it as nothing more than an obvious PR move in which the Grizzlies had no intention of having Josh Smith in Beale Street Blue. With the tumultuous nature of things in the ATL, I don't know how anyone could think that there wasn't at least a chance that the Hawks might let Smith go. But ultimately, that didn't have any effect on the TYP. I believe that Smith's presence in Memphis would have resulted in more wins this year, as well as the next two after that, but not enough to justify his salary. Just my opinion, of course, but Smith seems like another Shawn Marion or Andrei Kirilenko to me -- great team players who provide eye-popping stats on a nightly basis, but aren't #1 options, or even guys that you really concentrate on running plays for. I think that signing Smith would have been a detriment to the goal of the TYP, as it would have placed the Grizzlies further back in the lottery next season, which is where they are most likely to find the top talent needed to help them return to the postseason at the conclusion of the TYP. In this respect, cheaper talent (Hak, D.Arthur, new draftees) would be better than higher priced free agent talent.

BallHype: hype it up!


HPTMatt said...

well, I may or may not have responded to the original request, but here's my take:

I'd like to think that CW and co. figured out just exactly how much they were willing to pay, and offered it...not a cent less. Kinda like bidding on that Dyson Animal that my wife has been wanting for ages...figure out the MAXIMUM one is willing to drop on it, and put in the bid.

I would LOVE to have JSmoove on the Grizzlies-and it wouldn't have been for max money, which makes it much more palatable to me.

I told Sparty a couple months ago that I did/do not want the Grizzlies to be responsible for starting another cycle of handing out MAX deals to players undeserving of such (see:AK, ZBO, Pau).

Defensively and running-wise, Josh Smith would be a Godsend for the Grizzlies-however, his abject lack of outside range keeps him from being an elite-level all-rounder.

Errol said...

How did the Josh Smith "saga" affect the 3YP?

This was definitely a PR move, but PR does help sell tickets! I think that we can't merely overlook it as a superficial gesture, but rather, my opinion is that this move signaled what appears to be a change in philosophy for Grizz management. Yes, all involved likely realized that there was little chance of actually landing JSmooth on the team. Even without a move by the Grizz, I suspect that ATL would have eventually (possibly) done something to secure his services, but with morale still being South of enthusiastic from fallout the whole Gasol deal (even despite the Draft day excitement) I think that this move was important symbolism in ownership's willingness to PUBLICALLY DISPLAY its true commitment to putting an exciting product on the floor. Obviously there is no objective means of gauging this, but I feel like this was one more step forward in management's willingness to SHOW that it is serious about trying to compete. Sitting dormant when you're already perceived as soft and discombobulated is a killer. I think that this move was vitally important in the 3YP because The Grizz are unlikely to put up a lot of W's this year, and the fans need something else to hang our hats on in looking forward. Some hope in the commitment of management is important.