Saturday, September 27, 2008

Memphis' Weapon of Mass Destruction...At The Box Office...

....Might just be Hamed Haddadi.

That's right. To the fiery depths with Josh Smith, Elton Brand, Amare Stoudamire or Carlos Boozer. No disrespect to Kevin Garnett intended, but the "Big Ticket" might be Hamed Haddadi, as far as Memphis is concerned.

A survey/census shown on reports that there are 245 Iranians in the city limits of Memphis. The category "Other Arabs" equates to 202. These numbers may or may not have to be adjusted for population growth/decrease, but let's just use for my lack of mathematical skills an even number of 400 possible new fans in Memphis alone, and 70.5 MILLION back home in Iran. We will need a clever name to call this possibility, so let us use "The Yao Ming Effect."

Let me begin by saying I am not comparing Memphis' market to Houston. Houston is a bigger, more cosmopolitan city in a bigger, more cosmopolitan state. Houston also has a more significant population, and a larger ethnic enclave as it relates to their foreign star. However, the size difference does not neccessarily mean that there will not be the same effect. When Houston drafted Yao Ming, as they were one of the teams Yao preferred to go to due to their sizeable ethnic population, Houston immediately felt the impact. Endorsements here and in China came flooding in, and people wanted to tune in to Rockets games to see this player. Houston games were being broadcast in China just as regularly as we get to see Kobe vs Shaq on Christmas Day. Yao has made the All-Star team by having hundreds of thousands upon more hundreds of thousands of votes, due to support in the US and his team's fans for sure, but it was the other side of the world making a difference. The NBA is big in China now because of this, and now we are seeing more Chinese/regional players trying to make it in the NBA. (Sun Yue, Ha-Seung Jin, etc.)

Wouldn't that be great for the Grizzlies? In no way am I saying that Haddadi will be Yao Ming's equal or better (although I hope noone crosses up Haddadi like this or Haddadi can at least get a shot off against a midget. ) However, what I am saying is we can expand our market, seeing as how right now we're having difficulties expanding our market out to Desoto, Crittenton, Tipton, Fayette, Madison County and the like. We will have an entire country, along with Spain for Marc Gasol, and Serbia for Darko Milicic joining the Grizzly market. It may very well be the Grizzlies turn to lead the NBA into global expansion, and Haddadi will lead the way for players in his home country to come to the NBA. I think it would be a feather in the Grizzlies cap.

Let's close by talking about the ticket sales. Let's be frank. I highly doubt people from Iran are going to fly to Memphis to go to a game. Buying merchandise on, yes. Spreading the word, yes. Flying into Memphis? Not so much. We do not have a large Iranian population, but with ticket sales they way they are rumored to be, 400 new season ticket holders, or 400 more people as a television audience could go a long way into either filling up the Forum and getting more people to come to games because it looks more full and fun, or it could justify the televising of more games due to higher demand. Either or would be great, although I'd prefer the first. Finally, without getting sappy or too political, I think it would be great for the city to have such diversity at the games. Everyone of any race and age could be in the same place, even for just 2 and a half hours, and share something together, even for that one moment....they're all on the same team...which is how it should be.

Warning: Hamed Haddadi does not actually cure war and ensure world peace. He just dribbles a ball, and hopefully will be good. God, do we need help at the 5 spot. Help us Hamed Haddadi, you're our only hope.


**End transmission.

Grizzlies Sign Quinton Ross


Memphis, September 26, 2008 — The Memphis Grizzlies announced today that they have signed free-agent swingman Quinton Ross. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are pleased to bring Quinton Ross to our team,” said Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace. “He has been one of the best and most versatile backcourt defenders in the NBA the past four seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers. We are excited to bring him into training camp next week.”

The SMU product has spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Clippers, signing with them as an undrafted free agent in 2004. In all likelihood, Ross will get most of his minutes as the backup SF this season. This is just one more example of the new emphasis that the team is placing on defense after looking like a sieve most of last season.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Iranian Invasion Begins

According to My Eyewitness News' reporter Rob Petrone (ABC24/CW30), Hamed Haddadi arrived at Memphis International Airport this afternoon and will be ready to go when training camp begins on Tuesday.

It will be interesting to see how the Iranian big man matches up with Darko Milicic and Marc Gasol in practice after posting some impressive statistics in Olympic competition. With word coming down that Darko Milicic is expected to spend some time at PF, there could be ample opportunity for Haddadi to see playing time as the backup center.

How Are Y'all Doin' In The Back?

By Zac

I was going to call this blog "Someone Should Tell Adriana Lima We Have Naked Gameday At The Forum." Now of course I'm not ABOUT to write about something like that...that was merely a suggestion to Ms. Lima.

What I would like to talk about, is this debilitating, dangerous disease that seems to spread more and more the more games we lose. It is so debilitating, it makes our chart at the office look bad. You know, the chart that shows attendance, our arena noise...basically, the chart that shows how good our fans are...

No, not the FOXNews-esque doomsday delight Commercial Appeal! It's the fans!

"Wait...Zac, the fans are the problem??"

YES! The fans are the problem. However, the problem is two-fold.

Problem A is the people who come to the games who root for the other team. Nothing burns me up than seeing a yellow Lakers jersey, or someone whooping it up for Detroit, or shouting out to Melo and AI at the Forum. I wouldn't have a problem with Laker fans at the Forum if the Forum was the Great Western Forum and this was Showtime, but it isn't. We might be a crumbling industy sector and a largely minority-majority city, but we aren't in Detroit either. Our arena announcer doesn't have a stuttering problem. Lastly, do you see any mountains? This is not Denver either.

One of these is Memphis....and the other is not.

Most of this is said in jest. As an avid sports fan, nothing and let me REPEAT nothing really builds up a good game atmosphere than trash talk from fans of one team to the other. Of course, that's always best for the postseason, when the emotions are heightened. It just is an annoyance that a lot of fans especially at certain games aren't even at the Forum for the HOME TEAM...but the reason they stand out so much is because of problem B.

Problem B is the fans of the Grizzlies that we do have. There simply is not enough. When your arena looks like 9500 people showed up in plainclothes and the rest came disguised as empty blue chairs, even the loudest, truest Chris Farley Chicago Superfan-esque fan performance is not going to drown out the cheers from the fans that are there to support the other side. Where are the people? When I was writing for Nation of Grizzlam, I wrote a blog detailing why Memphis fans felt like they didn't get respect from the media and it dealt with SMS, or "Small Market Syndrome." While doing the research for said blog, I delivered statistics (begrudgingly, because I hate crunching any sort of numbers) of populations for every NBA market city and metropolitan area. Memphis was not even the smallest market, at roughly 1.25 million metro, adjusting for another year in census, not counting what I believe to be part of the metro area, DeSoto County. You mean to tell me that a little over 1 percent of that can't fill up a basketball stadium? Really? I know we are a college town, but face it folks, so is every other NBA market. This is the first REAL professional team this city has ever had. Noone had better comment about the MadDogs or Pharoahs, and no disrespect but the Riverkings and Redbirds are not major league caliber either. That alone should get fans in the seats. Be grateful to even have a team. I'm sure Seattle would love to have theirs back, and they had more fan support than we have had in our best year.

"Basketball games are too expensive to have as many as we do in a season. Most Memphians would be better suited for an NFL season. Expensive, but less games to go to."

Right. The Oilers sure got a lot of support while they were here. Of course, the excuse was that we knew they were leaving anyway, so why support them. It seems with a lot of people that they feel the same way about the Grizzlies. They'll leave, so why support them? That way, when they leave due to lack of support from fans like you, you will be right. Ah, sweet vindication. An NFL team in Memphis? If basketball (Professional basketball, in a self-professed "Basketball Town") can't be supported with 18,000 people, how do you tell me that 65,000+ would be? Maybe I should ask the Tigers how they like playing in front of a packed stadium for football games. Wait...

It's because they don't win right? The Golden Rule of Fandom. If they win, they will be loved and admired and paid attention to. You've got me there. The Grizzlies don't win. However, even when they did, they didn't win enough. So the support...went down the drain. Fans have every right to be dissapointed. Dissapointment is great! It means you have pride in your team and you want them to do well. I'd be more worried if people were indifferent, but people are dissapointed! Hooray! It means you care!

So why don't you care that your team, win or lose, looks pathetic when they play in front of an arena full of...empty chairs? It's silent when the home team scores at home and louder when the away team makes a basket? You want to root for the stars? Show up to the games, and be loud for your home team. Homecourt advantage = proven advantage. Build up the young guys' confidence, build up the win column. Make it look like a fun place to play and a fun place to go to. Word among fans will spread. Make it look like a loud and tough place to play, and word will spread around the L. Your team will be feared, and in free agency, dare I say revered. Players will want to come here. You will have built up your players into stars, and attract stars for you to clap for, if thats what it takes. Clap for Rudy. Clap for Mayo. Clap for Conley. Soon, who knows who you will be on your feet for in the starting lineups. Just make sure to keep the energy going, and drown out those people cheering for the other team...

Donations to the DOUCHE (Drown Out Ugly Crowd Heckling Experiment) can be made in payments of 5, 18, 37, 38, 40, 47, 48, 49, 62, 82, 99, 107, 150, 227, 307, 387, 546 & 667 dollars. All donations to DOUCHE should be made at the FedEx Forum box office on Gamedays.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gratuitous Self-Promotion: An Interview with Kornheiser's Cartel

By Joshua Coleman

On Tuesday, Kornheiser's Cartel posted a column titled Memphis Grisly. As I'm sure you can ascertain from the title, it wasn't full of rainbows and marshmallow goodness for our fair team. But that didn't stop me from acquiesing to an interview when Billynho requested one. After all, I'm all about defending our franchise and setting the record straight whenever the opportunity arises. They asked and I answered, all of which can be found right here. I encourage you to head over there to see the great questions they asked, as well as the answers I gave. They really do run a fantastic blog that I recommend adding to your Favorites List.

Tillery: Grizzlies Set To Sign Quinton Ross, Haddadi Arrival Held Up

Ron Tillery is reporting that the Grizzlies are close to finalizing a deal with free agent swingman Quinton Ross. The 27-year old former Clipper is expected to sign on the dotted line for a non-guaranteed contract tomorrow.

At 6'6" and 193 lbs., Ross is well suited to be the backup SF that the team obviously needs, given the unknown conditioning status of Antoine Walker or how well Greg Buckner will fit in with this Grizzlies team. He's a solid perimeter at both swingman positions, which is good in a division that includes Tracy McGrady, Peja Stojakovic, Manu Ginobili and Josh Howard. Also, it bears noting that at age 27, he could be a long-term fit for the Three Year Plan. Tillery notes many of the same things in a blog post on the Memphis Edge.

He also has information that Hamed Haddadi hasn't been officially cleared to travel to the United States yet. Apparently there are still some immigration issues to work out. Well, that's what they say, but we all know that he's really having difficulties in arranging transport for his pet camel, Bubbles.


We're overdue for a Links post, so let's dive right in with a couple of interviews!

Yahoo! (Sean Deveney - Sporting News) - Rudy Gay talked with Deveney at Chris Paul's charity event last weekend about a variety of topics. Deveney asked some rather provocative questions, many of which seemed to be designed to get a reaction from the young SF, but Rudy enhanced his calm and comported himself quite well. He answered questions about leadership and why the fans should show up this season, too.

The Sporting News (Stan McNeal) interviewed rookie Darrell Arthur yesterday via phone. Among the topics discussed was his involvement in the happenings at the Rookie Transistion Camp and how he had to face his mother afterwards. Solid interview for a player we hope is a solid presence in the post.

Ron Tillery checks in with two solid articles in the past couple of days. The first one, found on the Commercial Appeal, discusses the likelihood that the team is done making moves for the time being and will go into preseason with the 13 players already under contract. The second (and far more enlightening, IMO) is on the Memphis Edge, and gives fans something to be excited about: This Grizzlies team has fire and intensity! Reports of O.J. Mayo and Darko Milicic getting in each others' faces during practice makes me all tingly inside.

Speaking of Darko, over on, my least favorite MSM NBA scribe, Mike Kahn, has a column about The Dark One and whether or not he'll ever live up to his hype and potential. Given what Marc Iavaroni told us in his interview posted earlier this week about Milicic moving over to the PF spot more this upcoming season, I think we could see some interesting things from him this year.

In an interesting interview that Chuck Klosterman did with Michael Rand (, there was the following question and answer:

RB: Kevin Love or O.J. Mayo?

CK: This is actually pretty close. I think Love has the potential to be better, but only if he’s the third option on a very good team (and that will never happen in Minnesota). Mayo is more complex. He’ll either be awesome or useless. There is something strange about his attitude; he seems detached in a way I cannot define. He might end up being a version of Vernon Maxwell who passes well, or a [redacted] sociopath.

The Grizzlies are now short a shooting coach. Mark Price has joined the staff of the Atlanta Hawks.

Hoopsworld is reporting that even though the Zach Randolph trade is dead (can I get an Amen???), the Grizzlies are still more than willing to listen to trade proposals from around the league. Does that classify as breaking news given their imbalanced roster and overwhelming amount of young guards? No? Just checking. They also check in by listing Mike Conley as one of the Top Six Players in Need of a Trade. Ummm....yeah....right.

Kornheiser's Cartel seems to think that the Grizzlies' problems lie at the feet of GM Chris Wallace. I disagree and will explain why in an interview with the mastermind of this great new blog in the very near future.

Upside and Motor has a note for fans around the league that complain about ticket prices: Be glad you aren't a Laker fan.

For the stat geeks out there, check out this post from Bucks Diary that calculates the Win Profiles for each NBA team. This is some Dave Berri-level stuff, so it isn't for the faint of heart.

Think that all NBA referees suck and that you could do better? Henry Abbott (TrueHoop) says, "Not so fast". More often than not, these guys make the correct call.

Would you like to know more about defensive principles? Then read this excellent post by Dave on Blazer's Edge. Truly a great read.

Would you like to know more about basketball -- and sports in general? Then read Eric Musselman's blog every single day. What a great mind!

Former (Vancouver) Grizzlies forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim retired this week. Most fans in Memphis never got to see him suit up for the franchise, but I'm sure that many of the fans in the Great Northwest remember his remarkable consistency as a 20/10 player, night after night.

Finally, don't forget about the Tip-Off Luncheon. There are still a few seats available at the 2nd table that we here at 3 Shades of Blue will be sponsoring, so shoot us an email if you're interested.

Transcendent Meditation

By Chip Crain

By now most people have read the back and forth comments between Ryan Schwan at Hornets24/7 and our own Josh Coleman about the Grizzlies. I also sent Ryan an email about his comments and he replied with this:

Yeah, I unloaded on your team. Sorry about that. :( I still love your blog!

I actually left out one of the main points I wanted to make about your team - which is that in order to make a quick turnaround from 15-20 wins you have to land that transcendant talent - O'Neal, Duncan, Paul.

I have been thinking about what he wrote and it suddenly dawned on me the problem with the argument about transcendent talent. No we don't appear to possess the transcendental talent yet but in the last three years Memphis has traded Shane Battier for Rudy Gay, acquired Mike Conley with the 4th pick in the draft after Greg Oden, Kevin Durant and Al Horford had already been taken (the Hornets got Chris Paul after Bogut, Marvin Williams and Devin Williams were drafted by the way) and traded Kevin Love and Mike Miller for O J Mayo.

They have been trying to get the transcendental talent he talks about!

Rudy is a near miss but a big step up from Shane Battier right now and is only 22 and starting his 3rd NBA season. Conley, only 20 yrs old, still is looking like the 4th best player taken in the lottery. Consider that after Conley you had Jeff Green, Yi Jianlian, Corey Brewer, Brandon Wright, Joakim Noah, Spencer Hawes, Acie Law, Thaddeus Young, Julian Wright and Al Thornton. Where was the transcendent talent in that list?

No one knows about O J Mayo but there have been some intelligent people who are very impressed with him so far. Memphis hasn't been lucky in the lottery/draft the last few years (unlike New Orleans). As long as the team continues to try and get that transcendent talent they will eventually get lucky.

That is why I am glad the team isn't selling out for players like Zach Randolph and the like. This would only hurt our chances of acquiring the type of talent Memphis won't get in free agency. Maybe Conley will develop to an elite PG. Maybe he will only be average. That still makes him one of the top 15 or so PG's in the world. Rudy Gay is one of the top 50 players in the world right now at any position according to Tom Ziller and he hasn't peaked yet. Mayo is a rookie but no one argued with him being the 3rd pick in last year's draft after Beasley and Rose.

Finally Josh Smith nearly fell into their laps this summer. Sure Atlanta matched immediately but that is what happens with players of that caliber in the NBA. They just aren't available very often and a small market like Memphis has to get lucky and keep shooting for the stars to get that talent. Where would New Orleans be today if Chris Paul had been drafted #1 in that draft and Chicago matched the Hornets offer on Chandler? What if that draft had gone Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut? Where would New Orleans be today?

The bottom line is that Memphis is trying hard to get the type of player you say they need. New Orleans got lucky and had one fall into their laps at #4. Memphis hasn't been so fortunate yet. Gasol, Hamed, Darko, Warrick and Arthur aren't supposed to be the big name players. Memphis still needs to acquire someone to be the Beast on the Bluff (you don't know how many years I have been waiting for the Grizzlies to get a player worthy of that moniker by the way). It isn't going to be Zach Randolph or anyone else in free agency most likely. Memphis will have to parlay the talent they have to acquire someone in a trade or get lucky in the lottery/draft. But they are only that piece away from being surprisingly good with a ton of cap space to fill in the needs off the bench it may have.

Then again, with guys on the bench like Arthur, Crittenton, Lowry, Haddadi and Gasol maybe there won't be that many more holes to fill either.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Shot in the Darko

By Kirk

After a years performance in the Darko-Grizzlies era, many still believe that THIS is the year Darko will truly live up to the hype, and become the player that many experts predicted him to become.

After a paltry season as a Grizz "rookie", where he posted a stat line of 7.2 points/6.1 rebounds/0.8 assists/1.6 bpg in 24 mpg, is Darko poised to "breakout" this season?

There were rumors swirling over the past few weeks of a deal proposing a Darko/Marko for Zach Randolph swap. Now, thankfully, this deal appears to be as dead as Pauly Shore's acting career.

There has been talk of Darko possibly getting extensive minutes at the PF position this year, courtesy of our man Chip here at 3ShadesofBlue and his interview with head coach Mark Iavaroni.

On that note, would Darko be able to produce at the 4 spot? Many experts pegged him as a player who would never be a true NBA center, and that his natural NBA position was better suited at the 4, rather than the 5. Having played center for the Grizzlies last year, and having watched many excruciating performances at said position, I am beginning to believe these so called "experts".

The main knock on Darko in the past (other than being a bust) is that he has the confidence level of a pimple faced 9th grader asking the head cheerleader to prom. There were many games in which Darko would start early, hit some quick shots, get into a flow, and then seemingly disappear from the game. The disappearance usually coincided with either missing a few straight shots, or when getting a breather. Darko never seemed to close a game out on a positive note, rather he seemed to duck away when crunch time arrived. Sometimes he would disappear so quickly that you would have had an easier time finding the remains of Jimmy Hoffa.

With this being said, and the jury is still out, this IS Darko's year to prove his worthiness or unworthiness of being an NBA player. There is NO Pau this year, virtually noone standing in his own way. Darko controls his own destiny. He is the veteran big man this year, with 3 rookies in Marc Gasol, Hamed Haddadi, and Darrell Arthur looking to him as the "man". The only other big man veteran we have is a #2 pencil...........I mean Hakim Warrick.

Lets face it, Darko will most likely never "light it up", but will he finally break free from the stigma surrounding him? Can he prove the naysayers wrong? Can he finally string together performances to prove otherwise?

The judge shall reserve sentencing until all evidence is in, and I am able to weigh said evidence.

Until then, court dismissed.

Usually good travel deals include hotels as well as facility of car rental.

Aint No Party Like An M-Town Party

....Cuz an M-Town party don't stop.

Grizzlies block parties are back!

I attended one last year, and if that was any indication, I will try to be in attendance for the one on Trinity Rd in Cordova. I encourage all of our readers to attend and get fired up for the season!

Details are on


Juice vs. Juice

by Zac

First off, big ups to our friends at Hardwood Paroxysm for the "OJ Mayo's Swagger vs. Megan Fox's Sexiness" blog.

Also, I'd just like to say to Chip, what a fantastic interview with Coach I. I know all Grizz fans are pulling for Ivy this season.

Now let's get on to the business at hand.

Clay Aiken finally came out. FINALLY.

Just kidding. Who gives a funk-and-wagnalls about that?

Let's talk about OJ Mayo. Our rookie. Our newest face, our future star. One half of the Gay and OJ duo. He just oozes style, and swagger. He's been called the next big thing...compared to Kobe...the swagger of LeBron...etc. Who could I, a measly blogger, compare OJ Mayo to that would even match the direct correlations of the former?


O.J. Simpson.

Whatthe#@&! ????

That's right. Name for name, baby. OJ for OJ.

I'll give you a few minutes to settle down.

*Listens to some RATM via Ipod*

Good, you're back. I can begin now.

Round One: Slashing Abilities

As you can read here due to graphic violent language (You're welcome, kids) , Mr. Simpson was quite proficient in his slashing abilities. He (of course, this was in his prime, so I don't believe he could do this now) was able to slash through not one, but two defenders at once with ease. Mayo likewise is a very good slasher, able to get around one, two, perhaps three or any number of defenders you throw at him. As his profile indicates, he "is very confident dribbling against pressure and trapping defenses, and knows how to use his body to get to the hoop....and has a variety of moves and jerky fakes that create enough seperation for him to get his shot off."

Winner: Tie

Round Two: Court Behavior

OJ Simpson is a known narcissist, and an egotistical man, but by all accounts was somber and quiet in court. He let his teammates do the talking. OJ Mayo is humble when he is away from the court, but is a beast on it, unleashing a typhoon of swagger and arrogance, knowing that he is one of if not the best player on the court at the time. Sounds like a draw doesn't it? Alas, it is not. Our dear Mayo goes down to Simpson in this round simply because Simpson's team let him get away with murder in the court, and Mayo couldn't even get past a flopping ref.

Winner: Simpson

Round Three: Bigger Entourage

Mayo's entourage got him into trouble when an associate leaked a story about Mayo accepting gifts. Not cool, Lil' OJ. Meanwhile, Simpson, along with an entourage of his own robbed sports memorabilia from a Las Vegas hotel room and were charged with kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon to boot. This one could go both ways. Simpson was taking things that were allegedly "his" sports memorabilia. Mayo wasn't stealing nor taking his items back, he was purchasing new items, but "illegally" according to for lack of a better word, "Collegiate Ethics." In that respect, it almost seems like yet another draw. However, Simpson's antics landed him in jail again. The edge goes to Mayo in this one.

Winner: Mayo

Overall: Mayo 1, Simpson 1, Draw

So there you have it. After research, it seems they are even. You never would have thought that, now would you? That's why we're bring you the unexpected. Let's just hope Mayo is a "killer" on the court, not off the court.


This was for entertainment purposes only. We here at 3ShadesofBlue do not necessarily believe OJ Simpson was a murderer and or guilty of any crime. We try to stay as bipartisan and impartial to any one side in particular.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sitting in the Shade, Part Two

This is Part Two of our interview with Coach Marc Iavaroni.

3SOB: You have Marc Gasol and also Darko at center, quite a few options at power forward but the interior is considered an area of weakness on the team. You have a lot of experience coaching with with big men. Are you going to be directly involved with coaching the big men this season and what improvements do you hope to see?

MI: Well I think one of the things I learned my first year is that you have to delegate and you have to trust them and not micro-manage them but I think you also have to know what your expertise is and that was one of them. I think this was very important in the recruitment of Marc Gasol - because he had options and we had to recruit him - was the question 'was I going to be on the floor for him?'

I learned that the first year. You have to have delegation, but at the same time if they think your really good at something why wouldn't you be supervising that? Why wouldn't you be overseeing that? Why wouldn't you be actually in the trench? And I am willing to do that.

You know before games head coaches usually walk around in coat and tie and get their mind set for the strategic things going on in an hour or two. I've decided I am going to break that mold a bit. I'm going to get a little more prepared earlier in the day. I am going to get out there in my sweats for half an hour or so and work with our bigs. I'll work with our bigs at the end of practices because they are all young. They are all 23 years old. I'd like them to be on the floor with me 45 minutes before practice. Now I know there will be others at practice 45 minutes or so that I will work with also but that is less so. I want these guys to know that I will be expecting this of them. They are going to be on the court with me. Last year when we did perimeter and big guys I took turns supervising them. This year I'll be in there every day.

3SOB: Last year you said you saw players as perimeter and interior players and you don't worry about specific positions. Is that going to continue this year?

MI: Yeah, I do think you need to have versatility. I think you do need perimeter skills and big man skills are different. Now perimeter players need to work on their post up defense because people are going to try and post them up but they need to work on their post up game offensively. I think with the bigs if you can play 4/5 you have an advantage. Guards if you can play the 1/2, or 2/3 or if you're good enough to play a 1/2/3 then you got an advantage.

The real tough position is the one we are asking Rudy to do and that is play the 3/4. Now you have to have perimeter skills and perimeter knowledge of our offense and you also need interior skills and interior knowledge of what we're trying to do. That's going to be the challenge that we're going to put on him. We know Rudy led us in scoring last year. What other areas do you want to lead us in this year. That is going to be very important and defense is going to be one of those. This is an area where we are going to count on him. This is a team leadership need.

But getting back to your question, I think the key is that the guys have the skills we need on the perimeter and on the inside. They need to know what we want and they need to do it on a more consistent basis. They have to be more successful.

3SOB: You traveled this summer to Europe to see Darko. What did you talk about and what do you want him to improve on this season and how is his Achilles?

MI: Well we wanted to see how he was doing and make sure he was going to come into camp in shape. He didn't finish last season with a splash because of injuries. He was having problems with his heal so we wanted to make sure he was doing things that were obviously going to make him stronger and in better shape but we're not going to do things that exacerbate that. We wanted him to think more like a 4 in terms of his training. You know we had a sort of informal date of May 12th as in terms of when we wanted him to get back in there and start getting into condition where ever they were with the supervision of Mike Curtis.

So that said when I went to see him in Italy for their training camp in Costa, Italy I saw him for two workouts out of five and unfortunately after the second workout of 2 a days - and they had been there since July 4th and I got there on July 15th I believe so they had been there quite a long time and they go pretty hard in national team workouts - that's when it started flaring up. So we did a lot of talking but unfortunately not a lot of working on the court. Their coach is sensational. He welcomed me with open arms. Let me know what was going on with the team and Darko and what his expectations were.

So it finally got to the point where it was not getting better. So they decided it was best to let him go back to Belgrade and get that taken care of. So unfortunately he was inactive for about 20 days before he got back into light training. We wanted to make sure that that thing had toned down. So it's going to be very interesting how he shows up. He's do in any day. He's got somewhat of a visa issue. Hopefully we are getting him in this weekend. It's going to be very important to see what shape he is in because we want him in the 4 spot because as you said we might be a little light there.

Hakim Warrick is known as an NBA player but he isn't known for his bulk and size. We want to Present different looks.

3SOB: Well my next question was going to be if you see Marc and Darko working together...

MI: Well sure. I mean that is a definite possibility.

3SOB: That's very interesting. How do you see Marc Gasol fitting into this system? What adjustment issues do you see with him?

MI: (laughing) Well I think normal for any guy who lived a couple of years in Memphis watching his brother play and then went overseas and to become an MVP despite not being able to get a major Division 1 scholarship.

Other than that I think its a continuation of him asserting 'I'm not Pau Gasol and I'm not going to try and be him. I really like myself and I like what I've done so far but I'm no where near satisfied.' Those are the vibes I've gotten from him. I've gotten a real good spirit from him. He's a 23 yr old who's kind of on a mission. What he did in the ACB last year I think reflected that. He's now asserted himself after helping a team win a world championship two years ago in 2006. He's asserted himself on that team as a player with real value. He's a player that has gotten the attention of other people outside his country. People like Kobe Bryant who said we got Pau and he is great but we gave up a player that could be great.

Of course I'm paraphrasing but I think he's going to understand that he needs to stay in great shape in this league. There has to be a toughness not only in your mind, which I think he has, which is the place to start but he's going to have to translate that quickly into physical toughness and develop his mind even more maybe up another two or three levels to get to the higher level. Certainly before his career is over.

He's a player who's demonstrated that he's got skills with both hands and he has good footwork and moves. He's a very unselfish passer sometimes to a fault and he's got an almost deceptive quickness to him. He will make a jump shot on a pick and pop or stepping off the low block, but at the same time he has a quick first step which I really like. Foot speed is important at this level. He's got to be challenged athletically. Only because we have great athletes not good athletes at this level. So there's going to be people like Dwight Howard, Shaquille and Yao Ming who are going to go after him. I think it is going to be very important that we support him and stay with him through thick and thin because that is what a rookie year is all about. He's going to be challenged early. In the first pre-season game he's going to be right there in the hunt with Yao Ming. I don't know how much Yao will play in that pre-season game but we've got them on opening night as well. So it will be trial by fire because he's going to play.

3SOB: After your first year with head coaching experience has your coaching philosophy changed significantly and if so in what ways?

MI: I think number one you need to know who you are. I don't think you can't be a chameleon. I think there was a real interesting dialogue about me. People said Iavaroni was a defensive player. He played with Billy Cunningham and Cotton Fitzsimmons. He came into the league with Mike Fratello who's a defensive coach. He then goes to Miami with Pat Riley after the Lakers showtime when everyone was starting to realize this guy was a defensive coach. Then he went to more of an offensive system in Phoenix. So people wondered what I was going to be like.

I look at the personnel. My philosophy has always been you have to look at your personnel to get the most you can but know what you're about. I think last year rightly so we got attacked for not being defensive enough. I committed to looking at our defense a little too late. That's not a problem admitting that. I can learn from that. I just felt if we didn't run with the personnel we had, we had gazelles, if we didn't run we were really going to have some troubles. With players like Juan Carlos Navarro we're not going to walk it up. We're going to let him go. Rudy Gay is a tremendous runner. I didn't want people to lock in on him. Mike Conley we drafted for a reason and that is speed. Kyle Lowry can probably get up the court from one pass around the free throw line and have it in the other lane in about 3 seconds or less so I wasn't going to take that away from him. So I've learned that you have to be who you are while knowing the talents you have on your team.

3SOB: Last year you mentioned you didn't want the team committing fouls. Do you think that philosophy accounted for the defensive problems and are you more willing to tolerate fouls especially if it doesn't affect what you are doing on offense?

MI: Well again I think we want to emphasize the defense more. For many reasons it was not very good. I think I am less concerned about fouls affecting the flow of the game as I was last season.

Now I don't want to see fouls because people got beat all the time. That's not defense. That's a bailout. We want to make sure we are so into stopping our guy and being physical and yeah we may pick up some more fouls. I wouldn't have a problem with that. I don't want silly fouls but I think you have to establish in the referees minds that we are going to be aggressive. That you are not going to back down. I think our guys are going to have a chip on their shoulder. They really are. We are trying to change the culture here. We are perceived as a soft team last year and the only ones who can change that is us.

3SOB: What is Kevin O'Neill's role as assistant coach, how is your relationship working with him and how involved were you in his hiring?

MI: I was very involved. I mean we are talking about someone who is going to be on my staff. He's got a reputation for defense. I have a very good close relationship with Rick Carlisle. He's probably my most trusted confident in the league. I don't have a lot of guys I talk to but Rick is right there and he also spoke very highly of Kevin. So I am excited we were able to do this and get him in here. This is a perfect opportunity for him. I feel very comfortable introducing his defense. We are going to change some principles. We are going to be doing some things differently. More forcing the ball to the side. We're going to be tougher on the ball tougher on pick and rolls and we're going to simplify things. These are all things that let me to just relax, coach and see the game. Kevin can do his job as well. I don't want to micro manage.

3SOB: Hubie Brown coached the rookies during the summer league. Last season you coached the rookies in the summer league. This season you didn't. Was there any particular reason for that?

MI: Oh well I am happy for Hubie Brown but I'm not Hubie also. I coached two games the first year so there really wasn't much of a change. Last year we spread it around amongst the assistant coaches. It's all about having development. Like player development I like to have coaches develop. I think I did that more for my staff as opposed to me not wanting to do it. After all they are going to hear me all season.

Last season was my first year and I wanted to establish myself with the team. That wasn't the case this year.

3SOB: Last question, how many starting positions are set in your mind?

MI: I think it is best that I don't go in with mind focused on who should start.

I think it would be a shock if Rudy doesn't start but beyond that I think people realize that it's wide open. I trust Rudy enough to know he's done his work this summer not anticipating anything. Everyone still has to go out and earn their spot.

At this point the practice was really starting to get going and Coach Iavaroni excused himself to get back to work. I thank Coach Iavaroni for fitting us in for the interview and for the honesty and bluntness he responded to our questions. I haven't seen any other coaches willing to do that for their fans. I was impressed in how many of the Grizzlies were at the 'voluntary' workout. Sure Darrell Arthur, Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo were there but so were more established veterans like Hakim Warrick and Kyle Lowry. With the anticipated arrival of Marc Gasol, Darko Milicic and other veterans over the weekend Coach Iavaroni should have nearly all his players in town and working out way before the official start of training camp.

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.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Hum-Drum about the Hubbub

I know I haven't blogged in a while.

Daddy's sorry. He never meant to hurt you. Besides, he's just been too busy looking at Sarah Palin's head photoshopped on an American flag bikini.

Just kidding.

The fact is, there hasn't been much to talk about, other than occasional rumors about us trading for Eddie Winslow's body double Zach Randolph. Perhaps I was one of the few who were not vehemently against it. But that deal is dead now, so it is on to other things.

I see my fellow bloggers discussed the Josh Smith signing and how it fit into the 3 year plan. I'd add my 5 cents, but they already put their 15 in and got their mint.

So what is there? What is there to discuss during these dog days, this mundane existence called the basketball least if you're a Grizz fan. We're more starved for attention than a red-headed stepchild.

I'm still thinking...

Oh yes. We apparently wanted Sun Yue in the Pau Gasol deal. Why exactly? I'll admit, I don't know much about Sun Yue other than hes...well, you of those people that end in "ese." I think Marc Gasol will work out better for us, and not only because it will ease the transition of losing Pau and Mike because he looks like a combination of both.

I'm an opinion piece writer. I don't do stats. I don't do analysis really. My well is dried up in the offseason. How am I supposed to have an opinion about something when there is nothing new and newsworthy to have an opinion about? I'll count that among my many reasons that I am ready for the season to start. Here's to hoping the Grizzlies give me a lot of reasons to write...about how great theyre my opinion, of course.

Barring anything newsworthy, I will be back when the season begins and the fun starts. I'm going to spend the dog-days of basketball summer the way I spend the dog days of my summer. At my pool or on vacation with drinks in hand.

Who knows, if the weather gets too cold, maybe I can go back to photoshopping Sarah Palin's head on American flag bikinis.

The Grizzlies Are Still Afloat

by Chip Crain

The guy is a billionaire and still profits from his other businesses. Spending $100 million and only recouping $70 million of it back, resulting in a $30 million loss, shouldn't be THAT big of a deal.

These guys own sports teams like someone else might own a boat or something. It's not a necessity that they have to have. It's a status thing.
a post on the Grizzlies Message Board

That has to be one of the least informed opinions I have ever seen. Do people seriously believe that the owners in the NBA can swallow $30 million losses every year because they see the team like a boat?

No one is going to lose tens of millions of dollars every year and not want to do something to stop that trend. Michael Heisley is no different and he took moves this year to stop it from continuing along that path. Sure it will magnify pain in the short run but these moves had to be made to put the team in position to move forward in the future.

Owners in the NBA are extremely competitive personalities for the most part and they want to win. Michael Heisley wants to win too. The team he had at the end of Jerry West's tenure was not the team he wanted and so he decided to remake the team from the ground up. A lot of people, including some who write on this blog, were screaming for him to do this for years. The attitude was that Pau Gasol, Mike Miller and the others were never going to compete in the playoffs. Not because they couldn't be role players on championship teams but they could never lead a team there by themselves and having them in that role of leader was preventing the Grizzlies from getting the type of player who could.

Well Heisley saw the same thing. He decided, along with Chris Wallace and Marc Iavaroni, that the team needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. They decided to go with a youth movement which has its risks not the least of which is some years of struggling at the front end. Do people prefer he try to rebuild by spending up to the salary cap with players who will only make the team average at best?

Heisley understands that the fans have to be won back and that will take wins on the court. He said as much at the press conference welcoming Mayo and Arthur to the team. He wants to win in the worst way and when the time is right he will spend the money needed to get the right player to help put the team in a position to win it all. He's not interested in acquiring a player who will make us marginally better this season but not be in position to spend money on the right player at the right time.

No one knows how well the team will perform this season. Most likely they will struggle with so much youth on the team. However, if Antoine Walker takes hold of the PF position and plays like he wants to be in the NBA in 2010 then who knows?