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!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Open Practice Date Set

The Grizzlies famous Open Practice will be held on October 4th at 11:30 am on the main court at the FedEx Forum. Details of the event will be released very soon.

3 Shades of Blue was fortunate today to also watch a few (very few actually) moments of an informal workout today as well. Present were O.J. Mayo, Darrell Arthur, Hakim Warrick, Mike Conley, Javaris Crittenton, Kyle Lowry and a surprise. Brent Pettway, last seen on this summer's rookie league roster, hasn't been announced as being invited to training camp but his presence would seem to imply that he will be invited. Marc Gasol is scheduled to arrive in town later tonight.

They Like Us! They REALLY Like US!

Quick hit:

In a Yahoo Sports countdown of the best Grizz blogs out there by Kelly Dwyer, guess which blog came in FIRST -- ahead of Tillery at The Memphis Edge and Herrington at the Flyer?

1. 3 Shades of Blue — One of the best team blogs in the game, this is such a good daily read that it leaves you wondering just why some of more prominent teams in the league don’t have blogs that are nearly this good.

The crew behind this gem of a website offer daily analysis, news, polls, links (maybe the best blogroll out there); and if "daily analysis, news, polls, links" sounds like just about every other NBA site on the 'net … yeah, this isn’t like every other site. Give it a read, and compare and contrast.

Nice to be noticed, and nice to be part of the blog team. And the Grizz aren't even a winning team (yet)! What's gonna happen when Iavaroni and the Baby Bears roll?

Being Brandon Roy

by MemphisX
Training camp opens for 30 NBA teams in various parts of the United States in a little over a week. Some teams have already assembled informally and began their preparations for the 2008-09 season. For a select few, this will mark their first foray into the world of NBA basketball. No more school books on the road trips, it is time to grow up on and off the court.

From this point forward, draft position means nothing. All that matters is what you do or don't do when the ball is tossed up. The 2009 NBA Rookie of the Year race looks to be a highly competitive affair. Unlike last season when Kevin Durant's only challenger was the Atlanta Hawks Al Horford. This season there seems to be five players which a very good chance at making a run for the rookie of the year trophy (The Brandon Roy Trophy from this point forward).

To be a serious threat to win the rookie of the year award depends as much on opportunity as talent. It is hard to put up the numbers riding the bench and their are no points awarded for being on a good team. So some players, like Eric Gordon and Jerryd Bayless, are going to have a hard time even getting in the mix due to the minute crunch they will face on their teams.

So here are my top five candidates for the 2009 Brandon Roy Trophy:

The Favorite - Greg Oden

Most of the preseason prognosticators will tell you to be patient with Oden because he is coming off the dreaded microfracture surgery. However, microfracture is about to go the way of the ACL injury. As medical information catches up with the proper way to rehab from the injury, the recovery process is quicker and nearly 100%. Also, all microfractures are not equal. I am big on Oden. He was considered a generational big man coming into the league. He is in the mold of Shaq, Duncan, David Robinson, and Patrick Ewing. He is simply going to be dominant and most likely it will start to surface before the calander hits 2009. Oden is big, quick, long and has great hands. He is physical around the rim like Shaq and strong enough to get position even on NBA veterans. Him and Roy should be deadly running the pick and roll, especially with the amount of shooters/scorers Portland can put around them. Although Oden's post moves are not refined, his ability to establish position should allow him to get to spots in which he is comfortable. With that said, Oden will shine the brightest on defense. His presence alone is going to change the way opponents are ABLE to attack the Trailblazers. His athleticism and shot blocking ability will be unmatched. Only foul trouble and a cautious Nate McMillan will keep him under 3 blocks per game. His numbers and the fact that Portland will most likely exceed the modest expectations of the NBA media minds will put him at the front of the race. He will also get plenty of national TV time to make his case.

The Producer - Micheal Beasley
After dominating college basketball, it seemed a forgone conclusion the Beasley would be the #1 pick until Derrick Rose put on a show in the NCAA tournament. Rose was also helped by the fact that his hometown team got the #1 pick. However, it must be said that Beasley's reputation might of cost him the #1 pick in the mind of quite a few NBA executives. Known as more of a prankster than a gangster, Beasley's NBA career is already off to a dubious start. However, the negatives do not overshadow the positives Beasley will bring to Miami. Beasley is a flat out scoring machine. Beasley gets buckets in bunches. His offense is diverse. He can finish well with either hand. As an undersized power forward, he has shown an ability to post up bigger players. He has the skill to also take bigger power forwards off the dribble and enough of a handle and athleticism to get away with spot minutes at small forward where he would be able to punish most in the paint. Beasley has a set of vacuums for hands and catches everything around him. This also works for him when rebounding. He should be long, strong and athletic enough to make an impact on the boards even as a rookie. The best thing about being in Miami for Beasley is the presence of a rejuvenated and healthy Dwyane Wade. This allows Beasley to play off of a superior scorer and relieves him of any leadership duties he would have found on most lottery teams. This means that Beasley will rarely face the double teams he would have in another city.

The Phenom - O. J. Mayo

Mayo has been in the spotlight for what seems like a decade to those that follow college hoops recruiting. Billed as the next LeBron James, his lack of over the top athleticism will probably keep him from reach those heights. However, it can't be said that Mayo lacks the skill. Perhaps one of the deadliest shooting strokes of a top notch prospect in quite some time, Mayo should open up the lane for Pau...err Marc Gasol. Most of Mayo's previous billing was due to him being projected as a big point guard. However, at USC he excelled as a shooting guard and in Memphis he will be asked to step into the role vacated by Mike Miller. In summer league, Mayo was allowed to run the point and that was met with disappointing results. He seemed to turn the ball over and lack the understanding on how to run an offense. However, the Memphis summer league (back to back to back to back to back) was not a proper venue to judge his future ability to transition to the point. With the glut of point guards in Memphis at this time, I think most of Mayo's time will be spent at shooting guard where there is a big hole for playing time and shot attempts. The departure of Miller and Juan Carlos Navarro, leave 20 shot attempts and about 51 minutes available at shooting guard. You do the math. Mayo will have the opportunity to produce big time numbers if he is capable and history has shown him to be an elite player on every level he has played. His lack of national exposure will hurt against the top 2 guys but his cult like Internet following will drum up some buzz if he is producing.

The Homeboy - Derrick Rose
It might seem that Rose will be facing a minute crunch and with Ben Gordon's situation unresolved, he might. However, Rose was the #1 pick for a reason...his athletic tools. Rose is probably the most breath taking fast break engineer since a young Jason Kidd hit the NBA. His speed with the ball is unmatched, even by players much smaller than him. His off the charts jumping and finishing ability allow him to play the role of the one man fast break. I expect that once Gordon is signed that Chicago will make moves to clear up the logjam in the backcourt to allow Rose to get his feet wet. Keeping Kirk Hinrich should ease Rose's transition into the NBA, as he will be allowed to play off the ball some and learn something from Hinrich on defensive intensity. Rose should be a triple double threat if given 30 minutes a night because he is a very good rebounder for a guard. If his shot comes around like it started to in college and he avoids injury, by virtue of being the #1 pick, Rose has a shot.

The Underdog - Kevin Love

Just looking at Kevin Love,you would think he was an end of the 1st round type of guy...that is until the game begins. Once on the floor in a team setting, Love starts to shine. His feel for the game is uncanny. He has become an outlet passing and halfcourt shot making legend. However, don't confuse Love with being a hustle player. He is a highly skilled offensive machine. Capable of taking college players in the post, he has to show that will translate to the NBA. His jump shot will easily translate, as will his rebounding ability. Although, Love and Al Jefferson seem an odd fit, I think there will be some games that their relentlessness on the glass will simply overwhelm opponents. Randy Foy's return to health and the addition of Mike Miller to the Timberwolves should give Love and Jefferson plenty of room to operate on the inside. The attention Jefferson will get via double teams should allow Love to wreak havoc on the weakside boards. The new NBA trend of "going small" will get punished by these two on the glass. It simply won't be a viable option if the Timberwolves can devise a defensive scheme to protect Love from small forwards masking as power forwards. Seeing how Al Horford was able to produce at center last year for the Hawks makes me optimistic that Loves game will translate just fine to the NBA. Look for him to make a run at averaging a double double as a rookie with good assist numbers.

Just Missed the Cut:

Russell Westbrook - Will have to navigate his way though Earl Watson for playing time. If allowed to play, he would have an outside chance.

Danilo Gallinari - Experienced pro. Will he be healthy enough to get acclimated in training camp?

Jerryd Bayless/Rudy Fernandez - Portland's depth and lack of shots will hurt them, not talent.

Marc Gasol - If Darko is traded to New York then he moves into the top 5.

Eric Gordon - Will Baron Davis groom him to be another Montae Ellis? He definitely has the ability to put up numbers.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Declaration of War

A couple of days ago, my (former) good buddy at Hornets 24/7, Ryan Schwan, wrote a post decrying the horrific predictions that were foisted upon his team last year by the big media outlets and their sudden about-face this year. He then spent his final 340 words absolutely demoralizing the Grizzlies, while acting apologetic about it the entire time. Of course, this means that I must retaliate. But I like the way this Hornets team is put together and realize that they are definitely one of the top 2 teams in the West, so I cannot reciprocate in the same manner. That means I must tear apart his post -- word by word. Let's do it!

Flat out, the Grizzlies will be pushing to have one of the worst records of all time. Their veterans are the worst sort of dregs: Greg Buckner, Antoine Walker, and Marko Jaric. Useless, Cancer, Slacker.

The worst record of all time for an 82 game season is the 1972/73 Philadelphia 76ers who went an absolutely atrocious 9-73. The worst team last year, the tanking Miami Heat, went 15-67. I think the Grizz will be bad, but not historically bad. Definitely not, drink yourself into a stupor by halftime and drive your car off the New Bridge bad.

As for our lovely collection of veterans....Ryan does know that Marko "Slacker" Jaric can't be slacking that much if he's engaged to Adriana Lima. Right? I mean, c'mon! If he's a slacker, then I must be doing everything wrong.

Their frontcourt is horribly weak. Marc Gasol - if he makes a successful transition to the U.S. - is a good Oberto-like backup big, but other than Marc, there's no one to rebound or play in the paint. Darko has finally developed . . . into a foul- and injury-prone stiff. Hakim Warrick and Darrell Arthur provide no post presence and combined weigh as much as Marc Gasol, and the new Iranian import Haddadi is both raw and twenty-three, a bad combination.
I make no guarantees about how Marc Gasol will transition to the NBA. I can say that he will be 5 times as tough as his older brother, which is an excellent start. His decision to put Chris Bosh on his backside in the Olympics made me all warm and tingly inside last month.

Let's take a look at some stats. Player A averaged 7.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg in 22.5 mpg over 180 games. Player B averaged 7.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.3 bpg in 22.1 ppg over 181 games. Look strikingly similar? Player A is Darko Milicic since he got traded to Orlando and actually got playing time. Player B is Tyson Chandler's first 3 years in the league -- the 3rd year was shortened by injury. If Darko's thumb injury that plagued him for most of last season makes him an injury-prone stiff, then I guess I'll take that with a grain of salt.

Hak is still Hak, so I can't dispute that he's a rail-thin Zach Randolph level black hole. What? Ryan didn't say that about him? My bad.

I have no idea what either Darrell Arthur or Hamed Haddadi will do at the NBA level, so I'll have to bow before Ryan's superior prognostications.

The Memphis guards aren't going to be tremendously better. OJ Mayo was simply not that good in college, and I already have doubts he'll ever be a top tier shooting guard in the league, much less be one in his rookie season. Mike Conley showed last year he was injury prone and merely okay when he wasn't hurt, Kyle Lowry showed he was fierce but limited, and Javaris Crittenton showed . . . well not a lot because he played so little - which is its own indictment.

You know, I thought the same thing about O.J. Mayo prior to the draft. But then I did a little research and came up with these numbers: 20.7 ppg, 3.3 apg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 spg, .442 FG%, .409 3PT%. For a comparison, here's some stats: 20.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.5 apg, 3.0 spg, .390 FG%, 23.2 3PT%. Those are Allen Iverson's after his freshman season at Georgetown. I think we can upgrade him from "simply not that good" to "much better than perceived".

One season makes for an injury prone player? Does Ryan know what I know -- which is that Conley played most of last season with a bum shoulder, which is what contributed heavily to him being "merely okay"? He's no CP3, but he's not Sebastian Telfair either. I expect a marked improvement from Conley this season -- as long as he doesn't let my impending destruction of him on the bowling lanes affect him all year.

I agree about Lowry and Critt to this point.
That leaves Rudy Gay. He's a good scorer, but he's not all-around good, and he's probably not even a franchise player. Put him on the Hornets, and I'd rank him as only the fourth best player behind Paul, West and Chandler.

Wow. Just simply wow. 20 ppg, 6 rpg, a steal and a block per game aren't good enough to warrant an "all-around" tag nowadays? I understand that he's not a passer and should probably have slightly better numbers in the rebounds and blocks categories, but for a 2nd year player, I think we've placed expectations unreasonably high if those stats are to be an indictment, rather than a reason for praise.

As for where he would rank on the Hornets, if you put him with CP3 as his point guard, rather than a couple of rookies, he would be the 2nd best player as he would become Paul's new favorite target on the fastbreak. I like David West and Tyson Chandler, even as I watched them destroy the Grizzlies last season, but without Paul, they aren't nearly as good. It's like players who leave the company of Jason Kidd (coughKenyonMartincough) and suddenly prove just how dependent upon him they were. Rudy Gay was a 20 ppg scorer with little to no help from his teammates -- imagine what he would do with a premier setup man like Chris Paul feeding him.
And that's my entire problem with these Grizzlies. They have one player who could start for most of the teams of the league(Gay), four players that would be in a nine-man rotation because they are young and show promise(Conley, Lowry, Mayo, Gasol) and that's it. If they break 15 wins this season, I'll be impressed.

Yes, they are a young team. Just like the Hornets were 3 years ago and the Blazers were 2 years ago. Where are those two teams now? Oh, that's right, one is among the elite of the league and the other is expected to crash the postseason this year.

Bold (aka Foolish) Challenge: If the Grizzlies fail to win 15 games, I will end all of my posts next season with a link to Hornets 24/7 in the following sentence "Ryan Schwan is the greatest blogger in the history of mankind."

Now what do you have to offer in return? Consider the gauntlet to have been thrown down.

The opinions of this blog are not shared by the entire 3 Shades of Blue blogger staff. Some of us won't call Ryan the greatest blogger of all time even if the Grizzlies don't win 9 games this season!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dining with the Grizzlies


The Memphis Grizzlies are inviting fans across the Mid-South over for lunch, as the team is set to hold their Eighth Annual Tip-Off Luncheon on October 24 at FedExForum.

The boys at 3 Shades of Blue have always been big supporters of this event and this year is no different. We have already reserved a table and are now taking names for people who want to meet the team (and your favorite bloggers). Tickets are $50 for individual seats but because 3 Shades of Blue is so nice we will only charge you $40 a head to sit at one of our tables.

Fans in attendance will get the first chance to rub shoulders with Grizzlies rookies O.J. Mayo and Darrell Arthur, hang out with Rudy Gay and Mike Conley, get to meet the guys from 3 Shades of Blue, get coaching strategy from Marc Iavaroni and learn more about the business of basketball from general manager Chris Wallace. Take part in the silent and live auctions held throughout the event featuring unique memorabilia and one-of-a-kind fan experiences, or simply spend your time getting to know the members of the 2008-09 Memphis Grizzlies team. Doors open at 11 a.m., followed by the event and program from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The event benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis. Feel free to ask anyone who has attended in the past, this is a great event for a great cause! If you want to reserve a spot send us an email to three_shades_ofblue[at] Payment will be expected in cash at the event.

Ad: The american airline as well the spirit airline both offer such cheap flights, making everyone go airlines again and again.

The 2001 Ridiculous Upside Redraft

By Joshua Coleman

Ridiculous Upside is helping all of us hoops fanatics to pass the remainder of the offseason with a redrafting of the Class of 2001.

Washington Wizards (Bullets Forever) - Gilbert Arenas
Los Angeles Clippers (Clips Nation) - Pau Gasol

So, with the #3 pick, the Memphis Grizzlies select Joe Johnson from the University of Arkansas.

Knowing what we do about the health of Michael Dickerson, the team needs a solid backcourt player. Who better than local Little Rock, Arkansas product Joe Johnson to fit the bill with his great shooting and playmaking ability? Capable of playing and defending 3 positions, Johnson might not be a true franchise player, but he's certainly better than anyone on the Grizzlies' roster at that time. Adding him to the recently signed Jason Williams makes for an exciting backcourt with lots of fan appeal -- something that is very important in the Grizzlies inaugural season in Memphis.

Be sure to keep checking Ridiculous Upside for the rest of the 2001 Redraft.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Only Reason We Should Look Up To Them Is Because They Are Taller Than Us.

By Kirk Holland

Now that the dust seems to have settled over "Mary Jane pulled the fire alarm 2008", I have had time to reflect on the situation from a fan's perspective. First off, Darrell Arthur is a young man coming off a rollercoaster of highs spanning from the national championship win over our beloved Memphis Tigers to becoming a first round draft pick (although picked later than he thought). His life has changed tremendously over the past months, and will continue to do so. He has money now, and what do young men with money do? They spend it, have fun, make questionable choices. It's a fact of life.

I know we will most likely never truly know what "really" happened that fateful night in the hotel room, but worst case scenario is that he indulged in some of the Devil's lettuce, and had a lady friend over. I in no way, shape, or form condone using drugs, but in the grand scheme of things, it was not the worst thing. He didn't pull an Eddie Griffin, God rest his soul. He didn't hurt anyone else period. Granted he severely pissed off the commissioner and I'm sure he embarrassed the Grizzlies organization, but this in time shall pass.

Arthur can squash all murmurs and remnants of this situation by simply producing on the court. A productive player makes happy fans who tend to forgive and forget easier. If he can be the type of talent he is projected by experts to become, then will we not only forget about his lapse of judgement, but he will also become the toast (or biscuit), of our beloved city.

Moral of the story folks: don't look down on a kid for making a simple mistake; look up to him, he's taller than you.

They Pay Them How Much???

by Chip Crain

I love this time of the year. Training camp is about to get started and fans are nearly catatonic about their teams...either with joy or depression. Very few rumors are floating around after a summer of nothing but rumors and the ones that are around are generally so over-covered that you tune them out until something gets announced anyway.

Then there are the rare stories that raise your eyebrows in wonder.

Yesterday I saw that ESPN has the Memphis Grizzlies salaries listed for the upcoming season. Now I know it is not exactly accurate but it is usually close enough for government work (which these days means within a billion or two but that is another matter entirely).

Listed among the salaries were Marc Gasol at $3,093,333 for next season and Hamed Haddadi at $1,572,221. That seems like a lot of money for two rookie free agent big men. I started to wonder if these guys had been draft picks instead of free agents where would they have had to be drafted to earn these salaries?

So I started off with Marc Gasol to see where his salary fit among the rookie pay scale. Now you have to understand that Marc was Player of the Year in the 2nd most difficult basketball league on the planet so naturally his salary was going to be close to the top of draft.

Yes the Spanish league has higher quality teams than the NCAA. Sorry homer USA fans but that is the truth.

Getting Gasol involved a not insignificant amount of bidding against the major European squads and their seemingly endless Euros. $3 million seems pretty inexpensive but when you consider that $3 million a season is equivalent to the #6 pick in the draft this year you have to wonder is that such a bargain?

Who was picked 6th in the draft you may ask?

Interestingly it was Danilo Gallinari, an Italian and son of Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni's roommate when D'Antoni played in Italy. Since the two players are making approximately the same amount of money we now have a general baseline to compare Gasol against. Sure it won't be perfect as both players are expected to contribute in different ways with their teams but it should be interesting to track none the less. It is interesting that the salary negotiated by Gasol's agent prices him in line with Gallinari, a less experienced and younger player. If Gasol had made a few dollars more he would be compared to the #5 pick, Kevin Love. Now that should be interesting to watch in comparison. Whether intentionally or not, Gasol was wise to take less than Love to prevent any unjust criticism of his contract.

What about Hamed? Where would his rumored salary of just over $1 million place him in last summer's draft? What player is his salary making him comparable to?

As luck would have it Hamed's salary is nearly identical to the 17th pick in the draft. So the man who led the Olympics in scoring and rebounding is priced as high as a player just out of the lottery.

This also means that Hamed will be making more money than draft night acquisition Darrell Arthur and this was true prior to Arthur's $20,000 fine for screwing around (some would say up)) at the Rookie Transition Camp. Arthur was an important player on a NCAA national championship team. Hamed was the most important player on his nation's team. Will the parallels never stop?

Who was taken 17th? None other than Georgetown big man Roy Hibbert. Now there couldn't be a better comparison than Hibbert for Hamed. Perhaps the similarities between the players is how Wallace came up with that number for Hamed's contract. I have no proof of that but I do find it interesting that a 7-2 highly skilled player who is considered very slow of foot (Haddadi) is going to be paid a nearly identical amount of money as a 7-2 highly skilled player who is considered slow of foot. Of course no one has ever questioned Hamed's heart yet. People expected a lot more from Roy Hibbert this past year than they got.

So now we know where Chris Wallace values his two prize signings this summer not acquired in the draft. Gasol is slightly behind Kevin Love and the same as Danilo Gallinari. Hamed Haddadi has nearly the same upside as Roy Hibbert. All this assumes of course that rookei free agent contracts are associated with rookie draft pick contracts. It should be interesting to see how well the young Grizzlies stack up against their peers.

BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bargain Shopping, Part 1: The Denver Nuggets

By Lee Eric Smith

I have a buddy who is a wine expert. I was joking with him once about getting a great $50 bottle of wine. He simply replied: "Anybody can buy a great bottle of wine for $50. The question is, can you find a great bottle of wine for $10?"

These days, the cream of the crop of NBA GMs tend to share that great quality of being able to build a good team by finding great bargains -- R.C. Buford in San Antonio, Joe Dumars in Detroit, even Jerry West was prescient enough to swap proven big man Vlade Divac for some high school kid named Kobe Bryant, bucking the wisdom of not trading big for small. Maybe Chris Wallace can catch some of that magic himself.

So after reading Henry Abbott's True Hoop posting about "teams in turmoil," it got me thinking: some teams might be ripe for trades -- not all due to basketball reasons either. Hence, this, the first in a periodic series I'll write this month called, "Bargain Shopping." Our first stop at the Clearance Mall: The Denver Nuggets.

Why Denver:
You think it sucks for the Grizz not to get out of the first round? At least our excuse was that we only had Pau, Mike Miller and Shane. Imagine having a team with Iverson, Melo and Camby, and not being able to do it. They're WAAAAY over the cap, which means they'll have to pay $6.3 million in luxury tax. Key players (AI, Melo, Nene) are all pissed about the Camby trade. Then there's Furious George's tendency to grate his players. Oh, and it's not like the West is getting weaker, either. Sounds like a recipe for cleaning house.

Proposed Deal:

Allen Iverson ($21M) for Antoine Walker ($9M) + Kyle Lowry($1.1M) + Hakim Warrick ($2.1M).

Crunching Numbers:

This is mostly about money. For those who are wondering how those contracts add up, put away your calculators: they don't. Except for the fact that Denver is $10 million over the cap, and we're $10 million under it. Means we could take on AI's salary without going over.

Why Memphis Does It:

It's Allen Freakin' Iverson! On other message boards, I've proposed getting AI a couple of times, and I stick to it for the same reasons: Galvanizes the fan base, makes us relevant, he plays with heart and fire, and then there's the fact that he scores in bunches, even at 32. He's in a contract year, so it's not like we'd be on the hook past this year anyway. Would allow us to bring O.J. along slowly, gets us veteran leadership, etc. There's no downside here.

Why Denver Does It:

I can think of at least $6.3 million reasons.
Taking Iverson's contract off the books would put them under the cap, saving them that amount of money. And while the Nuggets would no doubt ask for somebody like Mayo or Gay, Hak and Kyle are two young pieces to work with (along with the first shot at resigning them), at two positions where they need young pieces. Plus, with Antoine's expiring contract, they get the same cap relief they would with Iverson next summer, only without having to pay $6 million in between. Hak and Melo have played together before at Syracuse, and are good friends. Kyle brings defensive toughness, which they need also. The Nuggests need to rebuild sooner or later, and this would not be a bad start, coming out with at least $10 million for next year's free agent crop.

I could run a couple different scenarios that would involve getting Carmelo and/or Nene, but I just don't see Denver giving up Melo, or us giving up what it would take to get him -- not with Rudy progressing so nicely, and OJ and Conley showing such promise.

I know some would be concerned with AI's age, attitude, durability, etc. But to me the pros FAR outweigh the cons. And he would be loved in Memphis just as much as he was in Philly, if not more, giving us instant "street cred."

More to come in the series . . . in the meantime, what do you think? AI in Beale St. Blue? Post below . . .

NBA Stadium Blog Day: FedExForum

By Joshua Coleman

The following is part of Jones on the NBA's celebration of NBA Stadium Blog Day.

The FedExForum. Located in the heart of downtown Memphis, it doesn't have the cache of Boston Garden, Madison Square Garden or the Fabulous Forum that was home to the Los Angeles Lakers for so many years. After all, it is barely 4 years old, so how much history could it have?

I have gone through many sports/entertainment arenas in my lifetime in Memphis, from the Mid-South Coliseum to the Pyramid to the shiny new Forum. Each of them holds a special place in my heart, but there is absolutely no doubt that the Forum is one of the most amazing arenas in the world today. From the wide concourses full of local flavor and history to the great sightlines of the court, it is the kind of place that every hoops fan wishes their team played in. When you factor in the great restaurants to dine in before or during the game, it makes you wonder if you could just live there for a few weeks each season.

Last year was devoid of many bright spots, but every Grizzlies fan remembers Rudy Gay's shot at the buzzer that sank the hated Spurs in December.

In similar fashion, there are other memorable moments that stand out in my mind. A game against the Denver Nuggets when the team was already without Pau Gasol....and then Bonzi Wells gets kicked out in the first half. That led to Brian Cardinal (Brian Freakin' Cardinal!!!) putting the team on his back and nearly leading them to a victory. Or who can forget the night that Chauncey Billups had to use every last trick in the bag to pull out an overtime victory for the visiting Detroit Pistons? Or watching unheralded, undrafted rookie Tarence Kinsey hassle Allen Iverson to the point of exasperation in a game that meant little to the Grizzlies (who ultimately won), but had playoff positioning implications for the Nuggets two seasons ago? How about the "out of nowhere" game that 10-day contract signee Bobby Jones had against the Sonics last season that put him on the map, albeit briefly, as he was a madman on both ends of the court?

Of course, there are also the gut-wrenching moments that I'd rather forget. The first playoff game against the Phoenix Suns, coming after a nail-biting Game 2 that Memphis should have won. Game 3 against the Dallas Mavericks the next year -- so close to that first playoff victory before Dirk Nowitzki went absolutely unconscious and buried our hopes and dreams. The numerous home openers that the Grizzlies have lost in a variety of ways, from Triple OT (Knicks) to facing 8-man squads (Wizards). But through it all, the Forum has been a great place to soak in the NBA atmosphere. 41 times a year, there's virtually no place I'd rather be from late October through April.

So I encourage all of you in the Mid-South area to come out to the FedExForum and support the Memphis Grizzlies. You'll get a chance to make some memories of your own.