Saturday, January 12, 2008

Golden State Postgame - Pau Scores 43

Not surprising to anyone, the Grizzlies lost tonight to the Warriors 116 to 104. It was the Grizzlies 2nd game on a 3 game road trip. The Grizzlies have now lost 3 straight and are something like 4-16 in the last 20 games.

I don't have much to say right now about the loss except to congratulate Pau on a superb offensive effort in scoring 43 points. Pau played admirably tonight in a tough loss. The bench (Kyle, JC, Hak, and newcomer Bobby Jones) was able to make a few runs in both halves against the Warriors bench to somewhat close the deficit to single digits or at least low double digits, but who am I kidding, the Warriors had total control of the game from basically the tip-off. (Photo by Getty)

Again, I tip my hat to a great offensive game for Pau. He was only 1 point shy of his career high and only 2 points shy of the Franchise record. I wish he would have gotten a few extra garbage points in the final minutes to get those scoring accomplishments. He deserved it.

I might have something more interesting to say about this game, or this road trip in general, later in the weekend. Tell me what you thought about the game in the comments. Maybe Chip, or Spartacus or MemphisX will chime in later with something else to add about this game.

Spartacus Says

The Good
Pau Gasol did to the Warriors what Dirk Nowitzki should have done in the playoffs last year. What did Charles Barkley say in the middle of that first round series? Something about low-post scoring being Golden State's weakness? Gasol could have scored 50+ if this had been the old "dump it into Pau" offense of the Fratello era.

Juan Carlos Navarro got on track again for the first time since Boston, going for 20 points on an array of 3-pointers and "La Bomba" floaters. When he gets going, he is so much fun to watch as he slithers into the lane for his patented push shot or the way he doesn't hesitate a single nanosecond before flinging a 3-pointer towards the net. His style is so unorthodox, yet so effective that it has to be maddening to defend.

The Bad
Rudy Gay forced shots over and over again in the first half, trying to will himself into a hot streak. He finally caught fire late in the 4th quarter after his impressive tip-in dunk, but it was too little, too late. He needs to learn that the quickest way to bust a shooting slump is by putting his head down and taking it strong to the basket, where at the very least he should get rewarded with free throws.

Mike Conley was made to look like a rookie once again as he got abused repeatedly by Baron Davis and Monta Ellis. Those two players did the same thing to Lowry and Navarro as well, but they absolutely feasted on Conley as he lost them in transition, off screens and while trying to play help defense. You cannot play "help defense" against a Don Nelson coached team. Hopefully this is a lesson that Conley will not require several classes in.

The Ugly
Team play. Following Gasol's comments after the Lakers' game, I was hopeful that his words would have been heeded. Instead, the Grizzlies once again had less than half of their made FG's assisted as they tallied 18 assists on 40 FG's. Conversely, the Warriors had 33 assists on 48 made FG's. I'm sure that some joker will bring up the number of shots that Gasol made that were probably unassisted, but he couldn't be stopped all night and there wasn't another viable option to turn to last night. Not that it stopped a few players from trying to shoot their way out of their slump on some poorly thought-out 1-on-1 plays.

Defensive rotations. Granted, it is difficult when the Warriors trot out a lineup of 4 guys capable of hitting 3-pointers, but in the first half especially they failed to close out on open shooters, which contributed greatly to the Warriors shooting over 60% in the first quarter. To his credit, Iavaroni recognized that the Pau/Darko frontcourt pairing was giving up more in perimeter shots than they could make up in low-post scoring together and went small, but it was too late by then.

Quick Hit Thoughts
I'm even more enamored with Andris Biedrins' basketball IQ and rebounding acumen than the Grizzlies' broadcast team. I would like to introduce Sean Tuohy to Dwight Howard though, after he insisted a few times that Biedrins was the "strongest center in the league".

I might strongly dislike Baron Davis (goes back to his UCLA days -- don't ask), but he played like a Superstar last night -- not the capital "S". On his way to dishing out 19 assists, he was a leader on both ends of the floor, tallying 2 steals and 2 blocks to go with his 6 rebounds and 20 points. When he is healthy and happy, he is a definite game-changer.

Hakim Warrick provided some solid scoring off the bench once again. I know that I've been hard on the guy all season, but I'd much rather see him develop and stick around than to rely on Stro for serious minutes yet again.

3-Pointers -- Golden State: 14/32, Memphis 6/20. There's your ballgame folks. Also, if somebody finds video of the Al Harrington "bounce off the top of the backboard" 3-pointer, please send it to us.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Memphis at Golden St - 1.11.08

Memphis plays their second game of the three game west coast road trip and the second game in a row against the red hot Warriors who demolished the Grizzlies in December. Not a good way to enter a game. The Grizzlies had their first major let down game of the new year against the Lakers on Tuesday. The Grizz played even for three quarters but unfortunately it was the last three quarters. The Lakers jumped to a 16 pt 1st quarter lead and the Grizzlies never seriously challenged after that. The culprits were the usual failure to get back on defense, poor shooting and turnovers. All signs of a young team that hasn't learned how to play together. Memphis lacks experience at key positions and leadership at the positions were experience isn't the problem. It basically comes down to shooting for the Grizzlies. If they shoot well then they don't give up so many fast break points and commit so many turnovers. Great teams overcome poor shooting. Memphis succumbs to it.

Golden St loves to run and puts pressure on people to force turnovers. That doesn't sound to good for Memphis. However the gambling style creates open shots which usually leads to teams shooting well against the Warriors. The real power of the Warriors comes from the consistency of the pressure. Some teams pressure from time to time but the Warriors never stop. It wears down teams over time and then Golden St has them. The speed at every position leads to lots of easy shots and the Warriors acceptance of open shots for their opponents tricks teams into playing too fast for their style and this results in more turnovers. Baron Davis is having an all-star type of season and possibly an MVP one if he can remain healthy. Stephen Jackson's return from a 7 game suspension to start the season has triggered Golden St's run up the standings.

Trends and Relevant Stats
-- The Griz are 0-4 versus Pacific Division teams this year.
-- The Griz are a league worst 1-8 in games decided by 3 points or less.
-- The Griz are 2-6 on the 2nd game of a back-to-back.
-- In the last 5 meetings between the Griz and Warriors, both teams have always scored over 100 points. Expect a shootout tonight.
-- Rudy Gay now has a steal in 20 straight games.
-- Rudy Gay is steadily improving. His January averages have been his best month so far, averaging 22.6 points, 6 boards, 3.2 assists, 2 steals and shooting over 50% from the field.
-- The Warriors lead the league in 3 pointers attempted (27.4) and made (9.6). The Griz are 5th in 3-point attempts (21.4) and 6th in makes (7.8).
-- The Warriors are a surprisingly average 9-7 at home this year.

Zack's Keys (only 2 instead of 3 for this game):
-- Make Shots. Both teams are going to jack up a ton of shots tonight. The Griz need to shoot well, obviously. Both teams shot over 50% from the field in the first meeting this year.
-- Slow Down the Pick-and-Roll. I expect Biedrins and Davis to run alot of pick and rolls this game and as I have wrote until my fingertips become bloody, the Griz are horrible at defending the pick and roll.


Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Baron Davis
Well Conley started off against inexperienced Andre Owens, Rajon Rondo and Chris Quinn. He then progressed to experienced but not overly talented Derek Fisher and Beno Udrih. Now Conley gets a real taste of the NBA. Baron Davis is no Andre Owens after all. Don't let his 48.1 FG% fool you. Baron Davis is among the top 3 point guards in the league. Fisher made Conley look like a 20 yr old kid on Tuesday so I imagine Baron Davis will get the scouting report on how to play him.
Advantage: Golden St

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs Monta Ellis

The Missisippi native Monta Ellis is blossoming into a dynamic shooting guard under Don Nelson's offense. The 3rd yr pro is averaging 16.3 ppg this season on 49.3% FG shooting. While not a deep threat at only 21.9% his speed makes the long ball less important. Mike Miller is taller and slower than Ellis which means he should be able to shoot over Ellis but no way he can drive past him. It will be important for Miller to keep shooting in this game as he has had monstrous games at Golden St in the past.
Advantage: Memphis

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Stephen Jackson

Stephen Jackson is the heart and soul of the wild Warrior attack. It is amazing that only one season after being traded from Indiana where he got into all kinds of trouble both on and off the court that he would be named Captain of an NBA team. I guess it's true that any thing is possible in the NBA. Rudy has never had any trouble with character issues and is starting to come into his own as a player. Rudy has learned to be the main offensive player. He has learned how to shoot himself out of a slump. What he has to learn now is how to include the rest of the team in his success and things will start to really get interesting. Jackson is a great defender however and seems to elevate his game to the competition.
Advantage: Golden St

Power Forwards Pau Gasol vs Matt Barnes

Barnes was benched against Portland Wednesday night but still played more than half the game and should be back in the starting lineup against Memphis. Barnes had his career game against Memphis last year and has had solid efforts defensively against Gasol. Gasol would appear to be a slam dunk to have big games against the small Golden St lineup but instead it seems to give him a lot of trouble. Gasol came out against the way the team has been playing and needs to have some statement games now to back it up. Gasol didn't play in the first Golden St game so it will be interesting to see what happens in the rematch.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Andris Biedrins

Darko has been improving every game this year including a double-double against Andrew Bynum and the Lakers but his propensity to take fouls is killing his development. Darko has to learn that not every shot in the lane is a potential block. At 22 he still gives the impression that he can do it all instead of doing what he needs to do often. Hopefully this will come with time. His thumb is obviously still bothering him but he is adapting and the injury is causing him to develop his right hand. Biedrins is fast, active and works hard. He is not very talented but he uses what he has perfectly in the Golden St system. Basically Darko is still in the learning stage and Biedrins is not.
Advantage: Golden St

Benches: Memphis vs Golden St

Golden St uses everyone on their bench, half the NBDL and occasionally pulls fans from the stands. If you play on a Don Nelson team you will play in a game and be expected to contribute. Case in point is newest NBDL call up CJ Watson who played 30 minutes in his first game with the Warriors and he hadn't even practiced with the team yet! The one exception seems to be former 1st rd pick Patrick O'Bryant. Look for him to be jettisoned before the trade deadline. Kelena Azubuike, Austin Croshere, Al Harrington (and why isn't he starting?) and even rookies Brandon Wright and Marco Belinelli could see time in this game. The Warriors run hard and that requires bodies to succeed. Memphis' bench has been getting shorter and shorter and performing worse and worse. Hopefully Navarro and Lowry can bust out of their rookie wall slumps and have a good game. Look for Hakim Warrick to have a big game.
Advantage: Golden St

Golden State of Mind asked us some questions and we were way too eager to answer them -- we get lonely, you see. So head over there and check them out.

Relevant blogs/sites:
Golden State of Mind
The City
Hoopsworld Preview

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sacramento Postgame

From Zack

And the Curse Continues. The Sacramento road losing streak now stands at 18 games.

(Both Photos from AP)

Again, the Grizzlies couldn't come away with a victory in Sacramento, pushing the Sacto road losing streak to 18. Despite the bitterly disappointing loss, the game was quite exciting to watch from start to finish. I could have done without the last 45 seconds, I guess.

Here is how the deciding moments played out, with the Kings winning the game by playing the foul-game very well and correctly deciding to hold off on shooting a 3 with less than 24 seconds and down 3. After this game, I expect a lot of people to question Iavaroni's crunch time decisions (after looking at the messageboard, yep, here it is).

-- With 45 seconds to play and the Griz up 1, Rudy Gay nails a very tough 3-pointer.
-- In the next possession, the Kings attempt 2 3's and missed both. Eventually Salmons realizes they are wasting time and gets the easy layup to close the Griz lead to 2.
-- Pau is fouled and only makes 1 of 2. Griz up 3.
--With 18 seconds left, Douby makes a driving layup. Great call by the Kings to take the 2 over the 3 and the tie. That decision ends up winning them the game.
-- Conley is fouled and only makes 1 of 2. Griz up 2.
-- With time running out, Garcia makes a corner 3 to put the Kings up 1.
-- Rudy Gay dribbles the ball off his foot and out of bounds.
-- Game Over, Kings Win.


Other Game Notes...

-- Rudy Gay Is Freaking Awesome! Yes, I know he left his man alone for a wide open game winning 3-pointer and then turned right around and fumbled away the ball while driving the baseline on the games deciding play. I am well aware of those 2 mistakes. But not counting the last 10 seconds, Rudy played a solid game. Rudy played especially great on the offensive end finishing with 31 points on 9-13 from the field, 4 of 7 from deep, and 9-10 from the line. Rudy has not been good at getting to the charity stripe consistently this year, so 10 FT attempts is very encouraging. It really looks like there is no shot Rudy can't hit on offense. The growth and maturation of Rudy Gay is certainly the story of the year for the Grizzlies this season.
(Photo from Getty)

-- Rudy Gay's Under-the-Radar Steal Streak Continues. Rudy has now had at least 1 steal in 20 straight games. It was November 28th the last time Rudy didn't get a steal in a game. Nice. Maybe I'm mistaken, but has this been mentioned outside of this blog?

-- Deactivation? After it was suggested that Kyle should be deactivated for his poor play of late, tonight Kyle comes out and played as good as he has in weeks. Here is his stat line:
8 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 turnover, +8 plus/minus in 18 minutes.
He was actually at +15 on plus/minus until Iavaroni uncharacteristically put him in for Navarro at the end of the game on defensive possessions. Iavaroni has not been one to make very many offensive/defensive substitutions this year in crunch time. I like the idea behind putting Kyle in on defense, then Navarro in on offense in the closing minutes. It just didn't work out very well this game.

-- Other Team's Announcers Always Love Mike Miller. Saw the Kings feed tonight and every time I see the other teams feed, their announcers are always in love with Mike Miller. Both the Kings TV and radio guys loved Miller. In fact, there was even a short interview with the Kings radio guy for nothing else but to praise Mike Miller. Weird. The Rocket announcers also come to mind when seeing other teams announcers talk about Mike like a regular All-Star. Miller is good - and tonight was one of his better games with him scoring a very efficient 18 points with very few missed shots - but I always get the impression from other teams announcers that he is on the All-NBA team or something. Too bad announcers can't tell their respective GM's how much to offer us for Miller in a trade. We may end up with T-Mac straight up. :)

-- Stupid Offensive Rebounds. Although neither team had any 2nd chance points in the 1st half, the 14 offensive rebounds by the Kings was ultimately a primary reason why the Kings won.

-- Tightened Rotation. Only 8 players played tonight, with Hak, Kyle and Navarro as the only players coming off the bench. I certainly like to see the shorter rotation. Interesting to see Hak play over Stro. Is Stro hurt or sick? Anyone know?

-- Bench Redemption. After being criticized for a lack of production, the bench stepped up tonight and played good. JC, Kyle and Hak combined for 24 points and 13 assists and all 3 were in the positive in plus/minus.

-- Former Griz, "Bad Thing" Dahntay Jones Fouls Out in 9 Minutes. Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Yep, that is the Dahntay I remember.

-- Pick and Roll Defense Sucks! @!#$%*^%&^@! I don't think a postgame commentary would be complete without me voicing my displeasure at the way we defend the pick-and-roll. Even a Beno, Mikki Moore combination can kill us with the pick-and-roll. Communication between the guard and bigman is horrible. I'm not even sure if everyone is one the same page about how to defend the pick-and-roll. Beno-Mikki? Really? We can't even slow down a freaking Beno-Mikki ran pick-and-roll? Beno-Mikki? Beno Udrih? Mikki Moore? Ugh!!! @!!$@#$%$%^&*#$%#@!!!


Rudy Gay on leaving Garcia open for the game winning trey:

"It was just a bad play on my part. I should've stuck with my man. Mike had him on lockdown. At that point, he was dribbling the ball and it was kind of unorthodox. I was trying to get the steal."

Rudy Gay on dribbling off his foot:

"I thought somebody got a hand on it. I haven't done that a lot this year. Especially at that point in the game, I don't think I'd dribble the ball out of bounds."

Micheal Conley on the game and the closing minutes:

"We didn't execute our plays the way we were supposed to. They took away a couple of our No. 1 and No. 2 options. We needed to go to a third and we weren't ready for it. They just played tougher down the stretch and came back and hit some big shots. We couldn't get a couple of big rebounds. They got a couple of offensive rebounds that really hurt us and turned into points for them. There were a lot of big plays down the stretch and they just made one more than we did."

Getty Captures the Moment - Double Serving of the "La Bomba"

50,000 Visits!

At 6:07 PM today, we hit 50,000 visits to our blog since we began keeping track in mid-September. Thank you to all the readers out there who continue to think that we are worth a few minutes each day and look to us for news and commentary about the Memphis Grizzlies. Special thanks goes out to TrueHoop, The Fanhouse, Kelly Dwyer, David Berri and all the great bloggers out there that link to us.

Memphis at Sacramento - 1.10.08

Memphis found out that the Lakers are more than just Kobe Tuesday night as the LA big men harassed the interior and Derek Fisher shredded the nets for 26 pts on 5-5 shooting from the arc (all with his mom watching from the stands). Now the Grizzlies take the road against suddenly hot Sacramento to start a three game road trip that ends Sunday with the Lakers again. Mike Conley got a lot of attention for his first three starts but he looked like a 20 yr old rookie against Fisher who forced Conley into a 5-15 shooting night by playing intelligent defense as well. The 'MG's' (Miller, Gasol and Gay) struggled most of the night despite Gasol's double-double (18 & 12), Miller's 19 pts, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Rudy struggled most of the night and only Gasol played well in the first half as the Lakers pulled away. early foul trouble for Darko and Rudy didn't help things either.

Sacramento should have a record no better than that of Memphis; with the team's top three players out, it never appears a remotely fair fight before the tip. Somehow, some way, this team fights. The Tuesday win over Orlando was a perfect example: There is no defender in Sacramento save injured Ron Artest who can stop Rashard Lewis, but for the first half of the game quick defensive rotations and good jump outs prevented Shard from going off. He ended up getting his because, as I said, no one on this team can stop him. It could be the same deal with Rudy Gay or Pau Gasol: No one can stop them, but the Kings on the court will try their best to do so. Some nights, it's enough. On offense, look for the Kings to be really active. The team flew and flung the ball around against Orlando, working hard to get Dwight Howard out of position. It worked for three quarters, until turnovers caught up with Sacramento. They will turn the ball over plenty, with Mikki Moore's lack of opposable thumbs and John Salmons' traveling the typical culprits. Salmons, Beno Udrih, Francisco Garcia and Quincy Douby can and will shoot from deep; as Memphis fans surely recall, Brad Miller can step out, too. Moore has been relegated to deep pick-and-roll and mop-up duty, but he's susceptible to mini-runs of energetic ecstacy. If he gets a putback dunk and follows with a scream, look out.

These Two Teams are Similar Stats:
-- The Griz are 2-2 in their last 4 games, but lost 5 in a row before that.
-- The Kings are 2-2 in their last 4 games, but lost 4 in a row before that.
-- The Griz are outscored by an average of 4.2 points per game, the Kings by 3.0.
-- Both teams allow a higher FG% than they shoot themselves.
-- Both teams have 5 conference wins and 4 road wins.

Rudy's Below-the-Radar Steal Streak: Rudy Gay has now been credited with at least 1 steal in each of his last 19 games.

Zack's Keys

-- Successful plays when Pau is double teamed. The Kings do not have the personnel to cover Pau one-on-one. I expect they will double Pau most of the game.
-- It is better to take than to give. Chris Herrington has talked lately of turnover differential being a primary cause for the poor record. The Grizzlies are 4th to last in the league in turnovers per game and allow the opponents the fewest turnovers per game. Another manifestation of the same problem is the Griz being last in steals per game and while also giving up the most steals per game. Against a Kings team without Artest, the Grizzlies have a great opportunity to commit below average number of turnovers.
-- More communication on defense. If I had to put my finger on one aspect that is hurting our defense the most (beside lack of quality NBA defenders) it would be the lack of defensive communication. The Kings are a terrible team when it comes to assisted field goals, which may be a good sign for our defensive fortunes. Though I'd still like to see more communication on such things as screens and backdoor cuts.

One thing to remember. The Memphis Grizzlies have never won in Sacramento and the franchise hasn't won since 1998. The Grizzlies already won for the first time ever in Indiana this year. Now would be a good time to end the streak in Sacramento.


Point Guards: Mike Conley vs Beno Udrih
When San Antonio traded Udrih it was because he never found his role as a back up in San Antonio. Well he has found one as a starter in Sacramento. He seems more confident in running the offense and shooting the ball of late and has filled in more than adequately for Bibby. The 6-3 Slovenian guard has been averaging almost 14 ppg and nearly 5 assists this season. While not exactly all-star numbers they are definitely solid. Conley is still learning the ropes pretty much. Outstanding speed and court awareness has given Conley the starting role but there is still a lot to learn for the 20 yr old from Ohio St. Expect Udrih to play off Conley due to his lack of foot speed daring Mike to shoot.
Advantage: Sacramento

Shooting Guards: Mike Miller vs John Salmons

Salmons has been a pleasant surprise filling in for the injured Kevin Martin. However Memphis may be catching a break here as Salmon's numbers are much better on the road than at home. Salmons is as effective scoring as Mike Miller hitting 51% of his FG attempts and a stupid 47% from the arc as a starter. Unlike Miller Salmons also has very quick hands resulting in 1.8 spg. Miller has been stepping forward more and more of late as his assists have really begun to move up. While only 3rd in scoring on the team Miller is hitting the shots he takes and moving the ball very well. Miller's production does decline on the road however and Sacramento is a tough place to play.
Advantage: Sacramento

Small Forwards: Rudy Gay vs Francisco Garcia

Rudy Gay has shown the ability to start hot and stay hot as many players do. Of late he shown the mental toughness to start cold and shoot his way out of it. That is rare for NBA players. Rudy has been the consistent go to guy and at times he forces shots he shouldn't. Francisco Garcia has started to play better since moving into the starting role. In the last 5 games (all starts) Garcia is averaging 17.2 ppg on 46% shooting and 40% from the arc. He has grabbed 5.8 rebounds and averages 1.2 apg, 1.0 spg and 0.6 bpg. Not all star numbers but solid for the 3rd yr pro who had done little to justify his draft spot previously.
Advantage: Memphis

Power Forwards: Pau Gasol vs Mikki Moore

Mikki Moore is a 7 ft journeyman who understands that his best approach is to be intimidating because pure talent alone won't get him very far. He can punish teams that ignore him with thunder dunks and if you let him he will try and get into your head but there isn't a lot of true ability behind the facade. His real strength is getting to offensive rebounds and keeping possessions alive. Gasol has plenty of ability but he has a reputation of being intimidated easily and for giving up offensive rebounds but Gasol has had a lot of success against Moore in the past too. A strange paradox. Since Gasol called out the team in the press expect a big effort on his part in this game.
Advantage: Memphis

Centers: Darko Milicic vs Brad Miller

Brad Miller continues to show you don't have to be a high draft pick to perform well in the NBA. The former undrafted Boilermaker is one of the very few players to be an all-star from both conferences. Miller will be 32 this season and the pounding seems to be taking its toll but he is still capable of hitting double-doubles most nights and there isn't a more physical and intelligent big in the game. Darko continues to mature in the starting role and seems to have put most of the sprained thumb problems behind him. He still has trouble catching some passes but he understands his role in the defense and will exploit any team trying to cheat two bigs over on Gasol. The problem has been his propensity to start the game in foul trouble and Miller is sure to attack him early to continue that trend. How long Darko plays will determine who will win the match up.
Advantage: Sacramento

Benches: Memphis vs Sacramento

Here is where things get dicey for both teams. With SAR, KMart, Bibby and Artest on the injured list Sacramento is already reaching deep into their bench for starters but Quincy Douby, Dahntay Jones, Kenny Thomas and rookie Spencer Hawes are all capable of having decent games or at least good stretches in games. However none of them can be counted on to provide a punch off the bench. Memphis's bench is just as erratic although they can't use the injury excuse. Navarro and Lowry are rookies and playing like ones looking more tired and less confident every game. Stro is still Stro which means sporadic contribution at best. Hakim Warrick should see some action in this game as the Kings have little offensively off the bench to keep Warrick seated. Don't be surprised to see Damon Stoudamire suit up as well. Memphis may want his long distance threat out there.
Advantage: Memphis

Relevant blogs/websites:
Sactown Royalty
Special thanks to Tom Ziller for his insights into the Sacramento team. It was most appreciated.

Possible Damon Buyout?

According to Ron Tillery in this morning's Commercial Appeal, the Grizzlies are working on a buyout for the 34-year old point guard.

A more pressing issue is with veteran point guard Damon Stoudamire, whose agent publicly said his client wanted a trade or contract buyout if the team doesn't intend to play him.

Stoudamire was recently replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Mike Conley. The veteran's issue isn't that Conley received a promotion; rather, that he's suddenly not playing.

Heisley understands, which is why he's working with Stoudamire on a buyout that could be finalized any day if the 13-year veteran is willing to forgo part of his future earnings.

"Damon wants to play. He's at the end of his career and I understand that," Heisley said. "He's been an outstanding teammate, leader, captain and person."

Well isn't that interesting. Wasn't it Heisley that said that he wasn't going to buy out any more players after doing so with Eddie Jones last year? Nice little flip-flop there when it looks like it might save him a few bucks.

Here's what I suggested to a few people yesterday for the betterment of the team. Activate Damon, put Kyle Lowry on the Inactive List and let Damon backup Conley for a few games. Lowry has obviously hit the "rookie wall" and could use a little time off to regain his bearings and recharge his batteries. The team could use a PG who has a perimeter shot that is actually perceived to be a threat. It is a win-win situation for the team.

Over on The Fanhouse, Tom Ziller has some poignant thoughts about the matter that I recommend checking out.

New Player: Bobby Jones

According to Chris Vernon, the Grizzlies will have a new player arriving soon.


This is hardly big news, but the roster spot vacated by Jeremy Richardson will be filled very soon.

The roster spot will be filled with Bobby Jones, not the golfer, who was released from the Denver Nuggets. Jones is regarded as a wing defender, which is what the Grizzlies need. Played college ball at Washington. He has not gotten a lot of run in the NBA. Let's hope he can help and we get a chance to see him play a little when he gets his 10-day.

Zack tells me that Verno and Wallace had a conversation on the radio today that strongly hinted at this happening and I trust Verno enough to run this without any confirmation from the Grizzlies.

Update (11:10 PM): Here is something from his draft profile (hat tip to Timmy D):

6'7", 215 lbs.

Bobby Jones is a defensive stopper in the truest sense. He has great size and quickness and moves his feet intelligently, always staying in front of his man and taking great pride in harassing whoever he is guarding. He is a versatile defender as well; being used in college to defend any position on the court 1-5. Jones does a good job with post defense and he can defend shorter players on the perimeter as well. He is exceptional at sliding his feet from side to side, knowing when to extend or advance his on the ball defensive position and having the instincts to retreat backwards while staying in his defensive stance and keeping his technique.

Jones is mostly a role player and doesn’t seem to have a problem with that. Offensively he is a decent slasher, being able to take a few short dribbles with his right hand to get to the hoop. Jones moves well without the ball, cutting to the basket and looking for opportunities to come up with cheap baskets in the paint. Once at the rim, he has the length and athleticism to finish well at the hoop.

Bobby Jones is not going to be a star at the next level, instead he is your consummate role player who could be a true defensive stopper in the NBA under the right coach. The special thing about Jones is the defensive versatility he has shown in college, being asked to guard all positions on the floor. If asked to switch on a screen in the NBA this will come in very handy as he is used to defending all kinds of offensive players, which will increase his value at the next level. He is a smart defender, and he just understands that part of the game.

Jones likely has the athletic ability and the defensive ability to stick in the NBA until he develops the rest of his game. His overall weaknesses in ball handling and shooting will limit what he can do at the next level, however, a defender is a defender and at his size with his athletic skills, he can play at the next level and be a great defensive stopper.

Best Case: Bruce Bowen

Worst Case: Stacey Augmon

Sounds good to me! Let's get this guy in Beale Street Blue pronto.

Update: It is officially a done deal. See all the details on

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Links: Gasol speaks out, ESPN is high on Conley, but not the team, Jumping Myth

Following last night's loss to the Lakers.....hang on a minute. Following last night's embarassing blowout to the Lakers -- that's better -- Pau Gasol had some statements that expressed his displeasure with what had occurred. From the Commercial Appeal:

Griz 7-footer Pau Gasol said he was frustrated by the Grizzlies' one-on-one play. The Griz finished with 19 assists on 41 field goals so that they had six players score in double figures was a bit deceiving.

"You don't have to be a scientist to figure that out," Gasol said. "We have to get back on track. We need to realize we have to play together every night and not try to do our own thing. ... It's a team game."

What's funny is that this is the kind of statements that get a player recognition for being a leader. I don't buy "Strotential" (click the link, you'll thank me) and I don't believe that Pau Gasol will ever be a "true leader". But even I thought it was the height of hysterics when someone read the comments above and labeled it as "more Gasol crying and whining". C'mon people -- quit sipping the haterade long enough to see that he was calling the whole team out and including himself in that group. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he was 100% right either. Or that Rudy Gay backed up his comments about it being a team game by talking about "team defense" later in the same article.'s fantasy basketball writer Keith Lipscomb has fallen in love with Mike Conley. He dedicated an entire Rookie Report to him today. While he was mostly concerned about his statistical output for fantasy purposes, they did praise him for his ability to run a team and his heady play.

However, over on the Daily Dime, Jalen Rose lists the Grizzlies at #4 on his "Most Disappointing" list. I'd love to be able to ask Jalen how exactly it is that the Grizzlies -- worst team in the NBA last season -- are more disappointing than the Bulls, Rockets or Jazz. Those three teams made the playoffs last year, were expected to go far this year and would all miss the playoffs if they started right now. Of course, he has Minnesota as his #1 most disappointing team, so I guess we should have lowered our expectations about what Jalen was bringing to the table with this one. In fact, didn't the experts predict an average finish of 10th in the West? I wonder what kind of expectations Rose had for this team?

With a hat tip to our helpful reader Jed, I direct you over to TrueHoop to explore the myth of leapers being able to touch the top of the backboard. As a lifelong Tiger fan, I can only think of one guy who might have been able to accomplish that feat -- Michael Wilson. No, not the guy who made all the funny sound effects in the Police Academy movies -- that was Michael Winslow. Michael Wilson played for the Tigers in the early 90's . In lieu of a Blog/Website of the day, I leave you with his world record dunk on a 12 ft. goal.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Gary Parrish Experience

As has been the case recently, we here at 3 Shades of Blue have been fortunate enough to interview some fascinating figures on the local sports scene, including Geoff Calkins and Peter Edmiston. Today we get to present another local legend, as we got the world famous Gary Parrish to answer a few questions for us. Gary first received national recognition for breaking the Albert Means recruiting scandal while with the Commercial Appeal. Since then, he has become's lead writer on the College Basketball front.

3Shades of Blue: We already asked your co-host Geoff Calkins this, so we'll give you a crack at it too, since he has assured us that he knows how you will answer. What niche do you feel you and Geoff can fill with your show that isn't being filled now and how did you get involved with radio in the first place?

Gary Parrish: What niche, you ask? The awesome niche, of course. But in all seriousness, I don't really think in those terms, about what I can bring or add or whatever. Honestly, I just want to keep people interested, offer insight, tell funny stories, make them think and laugh and not want to drive their cars into telephone poles. I just want people to have a good time listening to Geoff and I speak to each other and our various guests for two hours every morning. If we can make their drive to work more enjoyable or stimulating, then I've reached my goal. I want to make people pull into a parking lot and consider whether they can wait an extra five minutes listening to us before they leave their cars and start their days. I always found that interesting, how talk radio at its best can make you sit in a car in a driveway or parking lot because you just don't want to leave in the middle of this conversation. I'd like to make people do that from time to time. That's a nice goal, too.

As for how I got involved with radio in the first place, I was just a guest around town on various shows as Gary Parrish from The Commercial Appeal. I'd go on and talk about high school sports or Memphis basketball or whatever I was dealing with at the time. People would ask questions. I would answer them. Nothing really exciting. But then I started becoming a semi-regular guest on Chris Vernon's old show at Sports 56, and that's where things took off. I've always had a rather large (and unique) personality, if I do say so myself. And being with Chris -- who is around my same age -- allowed me to express it, get off on rants, tell stories, talk about real life, etc. See, Chris is just as goofy (if not goofier) as I am, and we have always both agreed that straight sports talk is boring as hell. Mix it up. Get into real life when possible. I don't think it can be forced, but I certainly don't believe it should be forbidden. So Chris and I just kinda meshed, played off each other and started genuinely having a good time on the radio. It's worked well, and that's why I'm where I'm at now, because Chris allowed me to come on and not be "Gary Parrish of" or "Gary Parrish, college basketball expert." I mean, I can play those roles, I guess. But mostly, I'm Gary Parrish playing the character of Gary Parrish, if that makes sense. And I just realized I'm typing in the third-person, so I'm going to stop now. Next question ...

3SoB: For our Preseason Predictions thread, where we asked local media members to predict the number of Grizzlies wins, you gave us a concise statement that turned out to be very accurate when you said, "Thirty-six wins. Why? They're just not very good." Are you considering a future career in fortune telling or perhaps just moving to Vegas full-time? Just kidding. What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the Grizzlies and how can they be remedied?

GP: I'd love to move to Vegas fulltime, just so you know. But honestly, did it take a fortune-teller to realize the Grizz weren't going to be good? I hear people all the time talk about this and that and try to dissect stuff, but basketball is almost always much simpler than we pretend. You wanna be good? Get good players. Otherwise, you're probably not going to be good, which brings us back to the Grizz. They simply do not have the players to win in that league. Period. End of story. But the most-pressing issue facing the Grizz isn't anything on the court. Rather, it's the ownership mess, because nothing will ever get better until ownership is resolved, and by resolved I mean Michael Heisley must be reasonable in his dealings with the local owners, make the sell and get the hell out of town. He's turned this franchise into a joke and the blame falls squarely on his shoulders, and when you have an owner who doesn't seem to care then it's hard to ask the average fan to invest either emotionally or financially. Heisley might be a smart businessman, but he's a terrible NBA owner, and this franchise will never succeed in this market as long as he's the one in charge.

3SoB: What players do you see in college basketball this season that will have a definite impact in the NBA next year? What players do you think will be expected to be quality NBA players, but whose game won't translate that well at the next level?

GP: Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo and Michael Beasley are all high-level pros. Two of the four are knuckleheads (Mayo and Beasley), but I can't imagine any way possible that Rose and Gordon, particularly, aren't future NBA All-Stars. I'd draft either, but I believe I like Gordon more than any other prospect. As for guys who won't translate well, Tyler Hansbrough is the obvious choice. He's tenacious and he'll be fine, but he won't go from being a college All-American to an NBA All-Star because he's an undersized post player for that level, and that's not a good thing to be. Chris Lofton is another. He's a college All-American who will be lucky to play in the NBA. At best, he's a specialty player, i.e. an off-the-bench shooter for his career.

3SoB: You say that the Grizzlies don't have the talent to be competitive in the NBA. Do you think this is something another high draft pick would fix (and if so, who would you take) or will it require some trades to "get rid of" certain players?

GP: The funny thing about the Grizz's problems is that they could all be solved rather quickly. Here's the order I'd like to see it go down:

1) Heisley sells to the local owners.
2) Chris Wallace makes a significant trade, if only to shake things up.
3) The Grizz get lucky in the lottery, land Eric Gordon (I think he'd be my top pick).
4) Gordon turns out to be a smart top pick, develops into a superstar.

If those things happen, the Grizz could go from a terrible franchise to a thriving franchise, all within the next seven months. But to me, that's what it'll take. An ownership change, an overhaul in personnel and a lucky bounce of ping pong balls resulting in the drafting of the perfect franchise player to play beside Rudy Gay. So just keep your fingers crossed, I guess.

3SoB: You were the Commercial Appeal's beat writer for Memphis Tiger basketball before "movin' on up" to How much has that change affected your style of writing or the amount of time you spend on work-related task?

GP: A lot, actually. But I'm a workaholic by nature. I enjoy working. I hate not working. I get bored with days off and so regardless of whether I'm at The CA or CBS, I've always been wired to put in the hours and really invest, and I suppose that's one of the things that got me from there to here. That said, the work is different. I now write for millions of people, and I'm a columnist instead of a beat writer, which I believe suits me better. If you listen to me at all on the radio, you know I'm not the most normal human on the planet. I don't think, act, dress or speak like most people, and CBS recognized all that and has encouraged me to be me, to be the same personality you hear on the radio. In other words, they did not hire me to just write about basketball; lots of people can do that. They hired me to be a personality who happens to write about basketball, and that's how I've approached my job, for better or worse. At The CA, my bosses were afraid of my personality and would've never turned me loose like Vernon or CBS has done. So that's what makes my writing different now. I'm being asked to be something different than I've ever been, and I'm just trying to learn as I go, see what works and what doesn't.

3SoB: To follow up on what you said about both Verno and allowing you to be yourself, do you feel that by allowing your personality to flow through your writing that instead of being a basketball analyst, you are moving more towards the genre established by successful online figures like Bill Simmons and Dan Shanoff in recent years? The analysis portion of the content is still there in their writing, but it is portrayed from the viewpoint of the everyday fan. Is that something you see more writers shifting towards over the next few years? You've also broken some big stories in your career to this point, most notably the Albert Means scandal. Do you still consider breaking a story the most satisfying part of your job?

GP: The last thing I'd consider myself is an everyday fan. Sadly, I'm not really a fan in any sense any more, which I don't necessarily like. I mean, I grew up loving sports. It is part of the reason I chose this profession. But I do not follow sports like I used to follow sports, and I'm not sure why, exactly. Now, I know college basketball and what happens in Memphis, plus boxing to some degree. But past that I'm kinda lost (I heard the Patriots were good, though). Thus, I don't consider myself cut from the fabric of Bill Simmons. At my core I'm still a reporter ... just a reporter who writes columns with the help of his personality. A new-generation columnist, if you will. So often people in newspapers tell you that you are "not a part of the story". Well, I don't believe that. Sometimes it's fine to be a part of the story as long as you also know when to get the hell out of the way. But to answer your question, I have no interest in being Bill Simmons. Don't get me wrong, he's great at what he does. But he just sits back in LA and writes what he sees. There's a place for that, sure. And he dominates that place. But I'd rather talk to the people I write about, get out, go to games and practices, spend hours on the phone in search of information. I'll never stop doing that. To just opine from my mountaintop would be to marginalize myself. Anybody can do that. But with my position at CBS comes access to places and people most writers cannot approach. So I try to take advantage of it as best I can.

As for the second part of your question, yes, I still believe breaking hard news is the most rewarding part of the job. These days, there are so many places to get opinions -- from radio to papers to national websites to blogs to message boards -- that it's simple to get lost. I mean, who wrote the best Barry Bonds/steroids column? Did you read them all? You probably didn't, but what you know for certain is that the guys at the San Francisco Chronicle blew the whole thing open. So that's the best way to get noticed, to deliver hard news. And I still try to do it whenever I can.

3SoB: We've all heard the horror stories that young sportswriters deal with when they are getting their feet wet. It is almost always a temperamental coach seeking to emasculate someone and put them in their place or possibly a story you're assigned to cover that just doesn't work out like you've planned. What was the worst thing you encountered early in your career?

GP: Remember, I started at The CA when I was, like, 22 years old. I was young and stupid so I did a lot of young and stupid things. Still, nothing major really sticks out from a journalistic standpoint. But I've had several confrontations with people. Chris Massie once threatened to kill me the day before the NCAA Tournament. That was kinda scary. John Calipari and I certainly exchanged bad words, at least once a year. But probably the most terrifying moments came during the Albert Means scandal. I had death threats seemingly every other day. I changed addresses, phone numbers. Got security to walk me to my car at The CA. Those were strange times because I was really young and at the heart of one of the biggest recruiting scandals in NCAA history. I seriously went from covering Germantown-Bolton volleyball one day to breaking that story the next, and I didn't fully grasp the depths of it all until I was right in the middle of it. It was a wonderful experience, but quite terrifying at times.

3SoB: I've been to some of those Germantown-Bolton volleyball games -- they are intense! You've covered the Memphis Tigers as their beat writer and now you cover college basketball in its entirety. We've discussed the "freedom" you're allowed in your writing style for, but do you also feel that the leeway to cover a popular sport from top to bottom has given you a vastly expanded canvas on which to paint with analysis, commentary and opinions? I suppose what I mean, is that instead of just focusing on one team, you are now allowed to pick and choose from 300+ teams what to write about, therefore allowing you to find the most interesting and creative stories to pursue rather than conjuring something out of thin air during a slow period -- something we're familiar with in being a team-centric blog. Is that an accurate portrayal?

GP: That's very accurate. I have complete control over everything I do for CBS. Anywhere I want to go, I go. Anything I want to write, I write. The people there have been better than I could've ever expected and really allowed me to figure this out on my own and without any sort of travel or budget restraints. It's not possible to have that kind of creative and financial freedom at most newspapers, particularly in this era when papers seem to be cutting space and budgets in the spirit of the bottom line. So yeah, I'm really, really fortunate to be in this situation. I mean, I just flew to Arizona for three days to work on a story about a junior college coach. I just told CBS I wanted to go and they told me to go. No questions asked. So my options are limitless, which is great.

3SoB: How long do you see yourself covering sports, either on the radio or as a writer? Will we see you on Around the Horn 10 years from now, battling an even more insane Jay Marriotti and less coherent Woody Paige? Can we count on you to take up the mantle of Sam Smith and Charley Rosen to be that guy that nobody really puts much stock in, but still reads every day anyways? You've admitted that you're a workaholic -- will you ever be able to retire and maintain peace? Or would your wife force you to become a greeter at Wal-Mart to get you out of the house?

GP: Honestly, there's not much else I know how to do besides the things that I do. This is all I've ever done and I don't plan on changing anytime soon, though TV is the natural next step. I will always write, I believe. But would I like to do TV someday, too? Of course. You should see those guys' paychecks. As for retiring when I'm older, I'm certain I'd just get bored. So I'll always be doing something because I'm not very good at simply relaxing. I think I need medicine. I'm gonna check into it one day ... when I get some time.

You can hear Gary's morning show with Geoff Calkins every weekday morning from 7-9 AM on 730 ESPN.

Power Rankings 1-7 & 8

Grizzlies move up in Rankings!  Will it last?  Can they rise again?

Power Rankings for 7 & 8 Jan '08
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