Monday, September 22, 2008

Sitting in the Shade: An Exclusive Interview with Marc Iavaroni

We at 3 Shades of Blue have been very blessed. First, as simple fans we are very fortunate to have an NBA team in town. Second, after 5 years of Jerry West's secrecy and silence we have a front office willing to talk to fans about anything they want to know. People who read our site may not realize just how fortunate the fans of the Grizzlies are to have a team so willing to sit down and talk so openly about the franchise.

Because of this, the boys at 3 Shades of Blue were lucky enough to be given a few minutes the other day with Head Coach Marc Iavaroni. As has been our tradition we are including the entire interview without any editing. Coach Iavaroni has been very busy this summer and he is only getting busier as the season progresses. Coach Iavaroni was kind of enough to cut short his own personal workout to squeeze us in before a voluntary workout with 7 players so there wasn't any time for follow up questions.

Catching the end of the coach's personal workout I did get to notice that Coach is still in excellent shape and is not someone I would want to play against in a game of H-O-R-S-E. Here is Part One of our interview with Coach Marc Iavaroni.

3SOB: You have probably been asked this 100 times this summer but you were the topic of a lot of rumors at the end of last season about you not being brought back. Now that you are back what do you believe is required of you by Mr. Heisley to be a success this season?

MI: Well first of all I think what Mr. Heisley did at the end of last season was really good because he wanted to have an opportunity to share his thoughts on the season. We had a season of upheaval, of major personnel changes and he wanted to make sure we were on the same page going into my second season. Now of course there was speculation because of the record. That's the way it is in this league. When you have a record that people look at in black and white and don't go into the intricacies of why the record then they start speculating and that was fine. So I thought we had a really good discussion on what he assessed the season to be.

What he wanted to make sure was foremost on our minds going into year two and that was obviously an improvement on defense, it was making sure the young players were going to continue to develop because we have a lot of young players that we are relying on and he wanted to make sure there were improvements in areas in end of the game situations. He wanted to know about defensive aspects and what we were going to do in the off-season. He wanted to make sure we learned those lessons and then there were also a lot about personnel changes.

3SOB: It was reported that you played the devil's advocate on the O.J. Mayo trade. What were the reasons against the trade and what arguments were being made in favor of it?

MI: I think again another healthy situation. Here we are in what used to be called the war room but here we are in the draft night and frankly I think it was positive. We said let's look at everything. Now if someone wants to brand me the devil's advocate as several people were saying that is fine. I've never been a sheep. Mr. Heisley has never been a sheep. Heisley has always led by leading and I am the same way. Obviously, foremost on my mind is that we were a young team and we were going to get younger. Like it or not I tend to develop affinities for players in my corner and one of those players was Mike Miller.

The number one reason for being a devil's advocate was Mike Miller's a pretty good player. I really like him as a person. I thought he embodied what we are trying to do here. It was not I don't like O.J. Mayo. I think that's what happens when you start getting into this. People say that you liked Miller more than Mayo. No, I questioned it because I wanted to make sure what we were giving up makes sense in the future. And like everyone else talking through it you realize it is enough. Mike Miller's deal is coming up in a few years. He's going to be eligible for an extension. We had a player who could be as good and maybe better in O.J. Mayo. We also felt that we felt we had it in our power get more bigs so maybe weren't going to need Kevin Love. Kevin Love also had some knee issues. That was frankly more frightening to people down the road management and ownership-wise than for me who is trying to win next year.

3SOB: You mentioned Mike who is obviously a great player. Who do you see replacing Mike both on and off the court and does the team have enough 3 pt shooting for you right now?

MI: It doesn't frankly and we are going to have to change our philosophy unless we add some late three point shooters. We have to be more space, drive the ball and draw fouls. I don't think we can come down and just launch threes. We don't have the proven personnel to do that. I think that O.J. Mayo is going to be a guy who down the road that could be as good as Mike if not better an outside shooter than Mike is.

Now remember last year Mike shot over 40% so that is quite a task for him in his rookie year. You can't judge him as a rookie just like we didn't judge Conley on his first year, we didn't judge Kyle Lowry as a rookie although his first year even though I wasn't there. We didn't judge anyone. Rudy Gay. After his first year we didn't say this is all he is going to be. He proved last year that his first year was a distant memory.

So I guess my point is yes we are going to have to alter our philosophy. Yes to help our defense in transition - which was the worst in the league last year - we are going to have to look at our offensive strategy and our balance to allow us to get back and play good defense. These are things we are willing to do. Again Mike's not here so we are going to have to adjust. You can't count on him to be as much of a play maker but we can look at O.J. to be one.

3SOB: Well what about off the court? Who are going to be the guys in the locker room? Who on the team right now can take that role?

MI: Well I think you look around and say what have they been doing in the off-season? who's led by example? Who has led himself and then tried to lead others? I think they've all taken turns at that. I think Kyle Lowry jumps out as a guy has admitted I want to be a leader. Sometimes I wasn't a good one but I want to be a good one. I think Mike Conley led by example more than being on the phone and such. I mean he went back to school. He's going to get his degree eventually. He's been working very hard at the Ohio State facility with Mike Curtis who is no longer with us unfortunately. He took a job at rival Michigan ironically.

Rudy Gay. He's a guy who does more than just try to become a better player. He tries to make people better. He does a lot of charitable things, does a lot of things with kids. He's a little bit of a pied piper this summer. He's spread the word on Rudy Gay and the Memphis Grizzlies. Javaris Crittenton has been working very hard on his game in Atlanta. Not just with Mark Price as a shooter, but also on his overall game. Hakim Warrick's been working in New Jersey.

So when you say leadership, you say okay, what have they done in the off-season and what are they bringing to the table when they are back? That remains to be seen. We need to see how they are on the court. How are they going to approach that role. And then we also need to decide who will be our team captain. We don't have that position right now. We need to see.

(laughing) That's the short answer...

We'll post the remainder of the interview with Coach Marc Iavaroni tomorrow morning.


Bobs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bobs said...

seems ivy is in a bad sitution. he will definitely have to explore some creative ways to play all four of our talented guards, while vastly improving his end game management. deciding between warrick and arthur should be interesting.

Chip Crain said...

Ivy will be talking about the PF situation in the 2nd part of the interview.

As for the guards I think the players will need to establish who should be playing and then tell Wallace to get rid of the others. Of course with the plethora of injuries we have sustained over the years at PG maybe we don't have enough players!

Lee Eric Smith said...

Hope you guys asked him about Kevin O'Neill . . . I'd LOVE to hear his take on that, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is actual DEFENSE on the court.

Chip Crain said...

Tomorrow's section covers the hiring of Kevin O'Neill, and what Kevin brings to the table in Iavaroni's eyes as well as Darko, and some other topics.

Errol said...

I will obviously reserve full outlook upon reading the whole interview, but I think that the position that we are in at this point is fair. It looks like ownership is halfway coming around, and it looks like we are just now getting to see some of the effects of Wallace's decisions apart from some of the past things that he had to clean up. Also, we still have to consider that it is the start of Ivy's second year as a head. We are young all around, and even Heisley's approach to ownership appears in the past multiple months to have shifted into a new gear. Great job on getting the interview, guys.