Tag:Rudy Gay
Posted on: December 7, 2010 11:28 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:20 pm
 

The Game Changer: Heat win, Rudy hammers

Rudy Gay throws down a hammer, LeBron James makes a poster, a Los Angeles Clipper hits a 70 footer and the Miami Heat take care of business on the road. Posted by Ben Golliver

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.

THE BIG ONE: MIAMI HEAT TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

If the Miami Heat keep this up, we might actually have to give them some credit. Man, I hope that doesn't happen. The Heat got a solid, although not spectacular, road win on Monday night, dropping the Bucks in Milwaukee, 88-78.

Nobody on the Bucks could buy a basket, save reserve forward Corey Maggette, who finished with a team-high 20 points, and the Heat did a solid job of protecting an early lead during an even second half. There were a few highlights (see forward LeBron James starring in one of the prettiest below) but the low-scoring nature of the game and Miami's sloppy play (18 turnovers) put a premium on sharing the ball (20 assists on 35 field goals) and controlling the boards (48 to 35 advantage), and the Heat managed to do both.

Milwaukee, which drops to a disappointing 7-13 on the season, is really under-performing so far this year given the playoff-quality talent on their roster. But taking care of underwhelming, lesser-talented teams on the road is what everyone expected of these Heat, and they came through without too muck flak on Monday. The Big 3 formula sparkled again, combining for 58 of Miami's 88 points, plus 32 rebounds and 12 assists. Those numbers represent an absurd percentage of Miami's offense, and clearly Milwaukee had no answers for their collective athleticism.

The Heat improve to 14-8 on the season, and continue their road trip on Wednesday against the Utah Jazz, who will provide a more formidable test in an even more hostile environment than the Bradley Center.

RUDY GAY HAMMER:

This dunk came near the end of a road loss to the Utah Jazz, but Memphis Grizzlies wing Rudy Gay reminded everyone why he has been a Slam Dunk Contest participant in the past.

GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:

After hitting for 30 and 30 earlier this season, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love went off on the New York Knicks once again, taking home top honors Monday night.

Kevin Love:
33 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, one steal on 10-18 shooting in 42 minutes in a road loss over the New York Knicks.

Runners-up...


Josh Smith
:
19 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, one steal, four blocks on 9=17 shooting in 40 minutes in a road win over the Orlando Magic.

Carlos Boozer : 29 points, 12 rebounds, one assist, one steal on 13-21 shooting in 36 minutes in a home win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

DON'T MISS:

WHIMSY:

Sometimes you don't need to dunk on an opponent to make a poster. Miami Heat forward LeBron James demonstrates this fact against the Milwaukee Bucks.

lebron-james-poster

WHIMSY II:

No, this isn't a photoshop.

FROM WAY DOWNTOWN:

Here's Los Angeles Clippers wing Ryan Gomes nailed a 70-footer at the first half buzzer, only it was a hair late and didn't count. The Clippers beat the Sacramento Kings anyway, 98-91.

Posted on: December 1, 2010 1:11 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2010 1:11 pm
 

Game Changer 12.1.10: Kobe won't put down the gun

Posted by Matt Moore

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.

THE BIG ONE: Lakers drown in a pool of Kobe


Kobe Bryant shot 9-25 last night, and given the chance, I'm pretty sure he'd shoot 18 of 50. For whatever reason, Bryant is unable to comprehend that more and more there are nights where he "doesn't have it" and continues to keep shooting the Lakers out of games, despite the fact that their offense makes it nearly impossible not to produce when executed with any reasonable set of effort. Bryant got hot in the third quarter of this game, and then:





That happened. And then more of that. Generally, lots of that. But the bigger problem of course was LA's defense, as noted by Silver Screen and Roll :

The Grizzlies ' point total of 98 doesn't look like much out of context. That's just pace masking deplorable defense on the Lakers' part. The Grizzlies' 88 possessions were the fewest of any Laker opponent this year, and their 1.11 points per trip is well above the season average for the Laker D. The problems tonight were mainly on the perimeter. Derek Fisher was egregiously bad against Mike Conley , who burned him off the dribble over and over. When Conley didn't have the ball, Fish frequently wandered away from him for no apparent reason, leaving him wideass open to make 4-of-5 three pointers. Conley, who's no one's idea of an All-Star point guard, finished with 28 points on only 16 shots (including free-throw possessions). I'm sure I don't need to tell you that 28 is far and away Conley's season high.

Kobe Bryant 's defense wasn't much better. He looked utterly indifferent to competing at the end of the court. On numerous occasions he simply refused to guard Xavier Henry . Literally, all the X Man (no idea if anyone really calls him that) had to do was jog around a light screen or even just walk to a different part of the court, and Kobe wouldn't follow him. Henry came into this game averaging five points a night and finished with 12.

Xavier Henry's emergence was downright baffling last night. His shot release is something akin to a sideways-launched screwball with the release time of a short documentary film but last night it was falling. The Lakers gave it to him, trusting the rookie would fail. He did not.

The final two possessions of this game were downright baffling. Conley dribbles off a Marc Gasol pick, Gasol rolls, and Conley attempts to throw a lob pass over Pau Gasol. Conley was right with his decision, wrong with his execution, and Pau took it away with those long meaty paws. Fast break to Kobe, who takes O.J. Mayo into the lane, Gay comes over to help, Kobe hesitates, then jumps. O.J. Mayo is not a tremendously athletic "burster." He has great top speed but not great leaping ability. He jumped higher than I've ever seen him jump, forcing Bryant to kick out to Artest who had Rudy Gay close on him. Game over.

GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:


Amar'e Stoudemire: 35 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block


Runner-Up:
Danny Granger: 37 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block



FELTON, REDUX:


Raymond Felton has gotten it. Not "is starting to get it." He has gotten it. Amid his 21 point, 7 rebound, 10 assist, 3 steal performance in last night in a win over the Nets, Felton took a high pick from Stoudemire and rolled right. As the defense sagged baseline to cut off his approach, he bounce passed to Stoudemire who finished with a fury. It was Nash-like. It looked straight out of Phoenix circa 2006. And it's the precise kind of play that Felton needed to make earlier in the season that he's making now.

With Felton on an absolutely ridiculous binge as of late, the Knicks find themselves right back in the thick of things. Felton is never going to be Steve Nash, ever, ever, ever, but if he's a dirtier, sturdier, better defensively version of Steve Nash? The Knicks can go places, like a first round playoff entrance. And after a decade of failure, that's a huge start.

The Knicks are coming around and fast.

Josh McRoberts ALLEY-OOP. THIS IS NOT A TEST. JOSH MCROBERTS ALLEY-OOP


 



FINAL THOUGHTS:


Brook Lopez gave a commanding performance in a loss last night, the first time he's looked like himself this season. He had the mid-range short-J going, which is a huge part of his game.

Roy Hibbert again looked phenomenal, even though his dominance wasn't needed with Danny Granger destroying everything in his path.

Tim Duncan had a very Walton-esque (as someone described it on Twitter) triple-double with 15 points, 18 rebounds, and 11 assists. Golden State had no answer for anything the Spurs are doing and have really fallen back into their bad defensive habits of seasons past.

Tyreke Evans is not right. Maybe it's the ankle, maybe it's the attitude, maybe it's coaching, but he is simply not the force of nature he was last season. For whatever reason, moving him to shooting guard has not worked out. Even if he may not make logical sense at the point guard position, if your team plays better with him there, how can you argue against it until you get a better backcourt partner than Luther Head?
Posted on: December 1, 2010 8:08 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:10 pm
 

Shootaround 12.01.10: Rudy Gay is a jumping bean

Lakers lose three straight, Blazers lose four straight, Tracy McGrady continues to be delusional, Tim Duncan notches a triple-double, LeBron James is a "lost cause" and Doug Collins has some advice for Greg OdenPosted by Ben Golliver
  • The Los Angeles Lakers lost their third straight game, this time to the Memphis Grizzlies, and forward Ron Artest his last-second missed shot at winning the game to the Los Angeles Times. "Then this jumping bean, guy by the name of Rudy Gay, comes and blocks the shot," Artest said. "I thought it was going in. I'm like, 'Why is the ball going short?' I knew the wind wasn't blowing. The ball just stopped after he blocked the shot."
  • Detroit Pistons forward Tracy McGrady, who has been vocal recently about the Miami Heat's struggles and has looked washed up for at least the last year or so, tells the Orlando Sentinel that he has plenty left in the tank.  “I’m not what I once was, but I think I’m a smart enough basketball player to be able to modify my game. It’s just working on fine-tuning what I can and what I can’t do on the basketball court. Everything is an adjustment. As long as I’m healthy, I feel good about my future.” When asked if he feels he could play “a couple more years,” he responded, “There’s no doubt.”
  • The New York Knicks topped the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday, but Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov wasn't pleased with a Knicks ad that took a shot at his franchise. “I don’t think we want to be like the Knicks. I think we’d more like to resemble the Lakers,” the New York Times quotes him as saying.
  • Tim Duncan put up a triple-double (15 points, 18 rebounds and 11 assists, which tied his career high) in San Antonio's Tuesday win over Golden State. MySanAntonio.com has his coach, Gregg Popovich, paying tribute. “He’s been the heart and soul of our program for a long time,” Popovich said of Duncan, a 12-time All-Star. “He’s where it all begins, and after all these years we probably still take it for granted.”
  • Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins, a former player that dealt extensively with injuries, was asked by Philly.com about Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden. "The thing you worry about is what am I going to feel like the next day? It's hard to enjoy the game. When your health has been taken away from you, you lose the love of the game. Hopefully that doesn't happen to him because he's still very young and I hope he's going to be able to bounce back. It just seems like at every turn he's getting punched in the gut right now. I wouldn't wish that upon anybody."
Posted on: December 1, 2010 2:51 am
 

The Mike Conley apology post

Matt Moore does some self-criticism in light of Mike Conley's emergence as a legit point guard following the Grizzlies' win over the Lakers Tuesday night.
Posted by Matt Moore


I.... overreacted .

This is a tricky subject, but starting off with that makes it sound like I'm trying to get around the subject. I'm not. I will be telling you, in pain-staking, crow-eating, I-screwed-up fashion why and how I was wrong in my outright evisceration of Mike Conley, at least through the first month of the season. But I also can't approach this as simply a "Mike Conley has made the leap and everything I said was wrong" instance. I wasn't, about some things. This also isn't meant to be an outright capitulation of my opinion. But unlike a lot of sportswriters, who are justified in their approach, I don't believe it hurts me to admit when I'm wrong. My job is to try and entertain you and occasionally give you some level of insight into the league. To say that I'm never wrong is to buy into a culture which abhors the idea that we all have more to learn about the game, or that these players we watch and nitpick over can't surprise us. And they can. Mike Conley has.

Here's what I got right, still, at this point.

The 5-year, $40 million extension to Mike Conley was foolhardy, penny wise and pound foolish. In committing the money to Conley before he had played more than five games, the Grizzlies denied themselves the opportunity to see what the market would bear out for Conley in restricted free agency this summer. They bid against themselves and still managed to lose. They still likely overpaid in the  long run considering his importance in the long-term success of the team. Furthermost, it's still hard to see, despite assurances from Heisley himself to some of his favorite media outlets, how he's going to justify spending the money necessary to keep the core of this team together, the same core which took down the Lakers in impressive fashion Tuesday night despite a near-loss.

Doing so would require likely overspending on Zach Randolph, which is a much more justifiable over-expense than Mike Conley was back in the first week of November. It means finding a reasonable value for Marc Gasol, who is arguably the most important and second best overall player on the team behind Rudy Gay. And then it means still finding enough left to invest in O.J. Mayo, who despite his struggles, still has the capacity to light up teams for 35 on any given night, and whose clutch play down the stretch against the Lakers, particularly in his defense of Kobe Bryant's pull-up to tie (which forced a jump-pass to Ron Artest which was blocked) was an example of the performance he can give. Re-signing all those players seems unlikely, especially with a second overall pick used on Hasheem Thabeet and another first rounder taken on now-starter Xavier Henry.

I can't say that the money invested in Conley was wise at the time, or in the context of building towards the future in Memphis, no matter how relatively painless the extension may be to swallow . It was yet another example of Michael Heisley's misguided leadership and meddling in the affairs of a relatively shrewd talent evaluator in Chris Wallace.

And that about sums up what I got right. Wrong? I'm going to FJM myself now, if you don't mind (which I'm sure is nicer than some of the other things Grizzlies fans want me to do myself).

In the long history of terrible moves by the Memphis Grizzlies, mark my words, this one will reign supreme.

Worse than drafting Hasheem Thabeet .

Okay, stop, right there. Two sentences in, just stop. This was not nearly as bad as drafting Hasheem Thabeet. Know how I know? Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings, Stephen Curry, Darren Collison. Thanks.

Mike Conley is the worst starting point guard in the NBA. That's including Derek Fisher , who is at this point both a defensive signpost and a superior point guard.

Given the improvements Conley's made to his game (which we'll get to, don't worry), it would be ludicrous to assess him as the 30th worst point guard in the NBA. He's not a top 10. He is solidly in the 18-12 range, depending on the night and the matchup. He's still obliterated by the elite point guards in the NBA, but blaming him for that would be like blaming a cow moose for not outrunning a gazelle from the cheetah. It still has a better chance than the heifer grazing blissfully. Also, if you wanted evidence of Conley's superiority over Fisher, look no further than Tuesday's matchup where it wasn't just the numbers Conley put together (28 points, 3 assists), it was the vast array of ways he destroyed Fisher's "defense."

Conley's biggest problems involve things which are extremely hard to identify in the box score. His turnover margin is acceptable, if not stellar. He was 24th in the league last year in assist rate among point guards who played 25 minutes or more. That's not good, at all, but it's not horrific.
Okay, so he's only up to 23rd (going into Tuesday night's games). Considering his usage is at a career high, we can live with that.
Every point guard in the National Basketball Association is able to probe the defense. It involves stepping inside the arc, towards defenders, and maintaining your dribble to see how the defense reacts to penetration. It allows the point guard to evaluate spacing and set up the correct set of decisions. Mike Conley cannot. He will routinely turn his back to a post maneuver, just to avoid losing the ball. This is because he has tremendous difficulty in splitting defenders.
Yeah, all this is gone. While I know Conley read the piece I wrote about him, he no doubt didn't care or adjust his game based on my analysis. Players don't do that, because a. what do we know? And b. you can drive yourself nuts doing that. That said, it sure seems like he's almost deliberately showing off this ability with every game. His probe-dribble has become deadly, with a hesitation just inside the arc forcing defenders to close before bursting through and to the rim. It's gone from a massive struggle for him to a significant advantage against slow or inexperienced guards.
He struggles in the pick and roll according to Synergy Sports, averaging just a .79 PPP in the pick and roll and shooting 44% which is a great Field Goal %, but not in pick and roll.
He's raised his Points Per Possession to .812, shooting 46%. It's not worlds better, but it's an improvement from "bad." Likewise, his spot-up shooting has become brilliant with an adjusted field goal percentage (factoring 3-pointers) of 53%.

Conley surrenders a .96 PPP in Isolation, giving up free throws over 16% of the time. In pick and roll, a .82. It's not horrific. It's just miserably average-to-subpar. This at the most important position on the floor. Bear in mind that Conley plays in a high-octane, weapon-loaded offense that allows him to get out in transition and get easy buckets. Yet he turned the ball over in transition 16.7% of the time.

Okay, so not everything's improved. He's still turning the ball over 16.2% of the time in transition and is now surrendering a .95 PPP in the pick and roll. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Advanced stats don't look much better. Conley has never posted a +15 PER, the benchmark of an average player in the league.
Conley entered the night with a 15.70 PER . And that's after a mini-slump. And it's likely to rise after a high-efficiency, high-usage night against LA.


But none of these things can encapsulate the real improvements in Conley. He's made the jump to being a legit starting point guard who you can rely on to set the offense, make the right decision, and execute the play. He's no longer overwhelmed with pressure. On the Grizzlies' last possession, he navigated the Marc Gasol pick, and swung short to drive. His move was to lob the pass to Marc Gasol. Pau Gasol raised his boat-oar arms and snatched it away. Upon first watch, it looked like your run-of-the-mill Conley turnover. But his decision was sharp, it was correct, the move precise, the pass on target. Pau Gasol just made a great defensive play. Considering the disaster the Lakers ran in their final possession, it looks like a dream.

Mike Conley is not an elite point guard, but he's also not paid like one . But for a player who was decimated by fans and media, and most especially by me, after his extension, he's made good on it. He's become a starting-caliber point guard, and has been a huge part of why the Grizzlies find themselves... well, 8-10. The bench is still terrible. But point guard is no longer a position of need, at least right now, for the Memphis Grizzlies.  This can surely change as the months stretch on to become a season, but it's in our best interest for me to tell you, that provided he does not regress:

I was wrong about Mike Conley.
Posted on: November 9, 2010 5:52 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:37 pm
 

Zach Randolph on the move? His agent says no

Zach Randolph was linked to the Detroit Pistons in a trade rumor, but his agent denies it. Posted by Ben Golliverzach-randolph In its Nov. 8 issue, Sports Illustrated reported that Memphis Grizzlies power forward, who put up an amazing 23-point, 20-rebound line last night, is seeking a ride out of town.
His six-year, $84 million contract expires after this season, and a league source says he's not happy that the Grizzlies didn't offer him an extension. Randolph, 29, has put up 20 and 10 in each of the past two seasons and last year shrugged off the loser label by powering Memphis to a 16-win improvement, earning his first All-Star berth. If the Grizzlies, who committed $82 million to Rudy Gay this summer and will have to spend big to retain free agents Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, are looking to deal, multiple sources say Randolph's preferred destination is Detroit, where he would fill the gaping hole in the Pistons' frontcourt.
In response, the Memphis Commercial-Appeal quotes Randolph's agent, Raymond Brothers, shooting down the rumor.
"There's no truth to that rumor," Brothers said. "All Zach needs is a basketball and a court to play on to be happy. Zach's happy. He loves Memphis. That's nonsense."
The Grizzlies can come to terms on a contract with Randolph any time this season. If no deal is reached, then Randolph will become an unrestricted free agent. And surely, there will be a market for a 20-10 All Star. 
If I'm Memphis, having just committed massive dollars to both wing Rudy Gay and point guard Mike Conley, with guard O.J. Mayo and big man Marc Gasol due for extensions soon, moving Zach Randolph and his expiring contract at the deadline for a piece and/or draft picks makes a lot of sense. But a serious playoff run would be huge a morale boost for a franchise that needs it as badly as any in the league. In other words, Z-Bo trade talk should wait until at least January. If the Grizzlies are out of contention at that point, ship his reliable post production down the road, or up the river to Detroit if that's who is interested. The Pistons could do a lot worse than a Greg Monroe / Zach Randolph frontcourt of the (near) future.
Posted on: November 2, 2010 2:46 am
Edited on: November 2, 2010 9:41 am
 

Grizzlies commit franchise suicide, extend Conley

Grizzlies point guard granted 5-year, $45-million extension for mediocrity, continued inconsistency.Posted by Matt Moore

In the long history of terrible moves by the Memphis Grizzlies, mark my words, this one will reign supreme.

Worse than drafting Hasheem Thabeet.

Worse than trading Pau Gasol for Marc Gasol, Kwame Brown, and cash.

Worse than re-signing Rudy Gay for $80 million.

This, this right here, is not just the worst move in the history of the Grizzlies, but it is the shining golden cap on the mountain of terrible moves made by NBA owners over the past 2 years. It is this, exact move, that nullifies any argument the owners can possibly make that they spend their money responsibly inside the current CBA. It is this contract that overshadows Joe Johnson's contract, Amir Johnson's contract, Darko Milicic's contract as the single worst contract handed out in 2010.

ESPN's Chris Broussard and the Memphis Commercial-Appeal reports that the Memphis Grizzlies have agreed to a 5-year, $40-million-plus extension for Mike Conley.

There is really nothing more to say. But here's something anyway.

Mike Conley is the worst starting point guard in the NBA. That's including Derek Fisher, who is at this point both a defensive signpost and a superior point guard. People often wonder why it is I consider this to be so. The reasons are numerous. It's not that Mike Conley is not a good basketball player. He is. He's a career 44% shooter, and 38% from the arc, which isn't bad at all. As a spot-up back-up combo guard, he wouldn't be bad at all. Mike Conley is not a bad NBA player. But there are three things this contract supposes that he is not. He is not a starting caliber point guard. He is not worth $45 million dollars over 5 years. And he is not worth the longterm damage this contract does to the Memphis Grizzlies franchise.

Conley's biggest problems involve things which are extremely hard to identify in the box score. His turnover margin is acceptable, if not stellar. He was 24th in the league last year in assist rate among point guards who played 25 minutes or more. That's not good, at all, but it's not horrific. But if you watched as many Grizzlies games as I have, you'd know certain things. Like, for instance, his dribble probe ability.

Every point guard in the National Basketball Association is able to probe the defense. It involves stepping inside the arc, towards defenders, and maintaining your dribble to see how the defense reacts to penetration. It allows the point guard to evaluate spacing and set up the correct set of decisions. Mike Conley cannot. He will routinely turn his back to a post maneuver, just to avoid losing the ball. This is because he has tremendous difficulty in splitting defenders. This is just one example. He struggles in the pick and roll according to Synergy Sports, averaging just a .79 PPP in the pick and roll and shooting 44% which is a great Field Goal %, but not in pick and roll. Defensively? It's even worse.

Conley surrenders a .96 PPP in Isolation, giving up free throws over 16% of the time. In pick and roll, a .82. It's not horrific. It's just miserably average-to-subpar. This at the most important position on the floor. Bear in mind that Conley plays in a high-octane, weapon-loaded offense that allows him to get out in transition and get easy buckets. Yet he turned the ball over in transition 16.7% of the time.

Advanced stats don't look much better. Conley has never posted a +15 PER, the benchmark of an average player in the league. Conley is only 23, but it would require a monumental improvement in several categories for him to reach the point of actually deserving this kind of contract.

As a comparison? Rajon Rondo makes only $10 million more for his extension than Mike Conley. Rajon Rondo. The guy that just dropped 24 assists in one game for a title contender. That guy makes $2 million more per year, that's it.

But the real problem with this contract?

The damage it does to the future.

Alongside Conley, the Grizzlies needed to extend Marc Gasol, the only real asset they acquired in the Pau Gasol trade. Marc Gasol is arguably the most important player on the team. He is an excellent passer out of both the high and low post. He has a reliable mid-range jumper, is tremendous on the offensive glass, and works his face off on the defensive end. He shows hard and recovers on the pick and roll, maintains low-post position and is active, and continually makes hustle plays. This in a league that is painfully thin on centers. And the Grizzlies have just opened the door for Gasol to walk away in restricted free agency. Zach Randolph has to be re-signed after his contract expires this year, and given the affection the Grizzlies organization has shown Randolph, there's no sign they won't overpay for Z-Bo as well. Which would mean making room for Marc Gasol would be incredibly difficult.

Then next season, you have O.J. Mayo in a similar boat. Looking for an extension. But after the owners' hardline CBA renegotiations get through, how much cap space will they have left? Plus they'll have Hasheem Thabeet coming up soon and a need to justify their drafting of him by waiting for him to develop over the next decade.

So what you're looking at with this extension is the rare combination of a move that's bad in and of itself, and mortgages your ability to win later by most likely expending two of your three best players. You now have $120 million committed to Rudy Gay and Mike Conley over the next six years. That's bad enough, but you'll most likely be losing better players in order to form around that core. It damages you in the short term. This is a player who you have tried to improve upon with Jamal Tinsley, moving O.J. Mayo to point, Greivis Vasquez, Allen Iverson, and I'm pretty sure a clone of John Stockton. But this is the player you have chosen to give $40 million-plus to.

The owners have held the high ground in negotiations regarding the CBA. Even with moves like Darko, Johnson, and the stellar history of Isiah Thomas, the ownership has been able to justify the moves they've made. But this is more damaging than others. This is a clearly B-Level player getting close to $9 million a year.

The Commercial-Appeal reports the decision was largely made upon Conley's strong start to this season. Three games. In a contract year. Featuring a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. This, apparently, is what sets the market in Memphis.

When Ken Berger reported last month that the NBA was considering contraction as a possible solution to its economic woes, I spoke out passionately against it. Small-market fans shouldn't be punished and the overall health of the league nationwide shouldn't be harmed in an attempt by larger market teams to make life easier on them. But after this deal, the question must be raised. Would the Grizzlies be better off if they were simply erased from existence? Is a fan base better off existing in a constant and continual cycle of disappointment and failure, or simply not existing at all?

Mike Conley made $45 million without a single impressive season. And the bizarre, cruel, laughable reign of Michael Heisley continues.



Posted on: October 25, 2010 12:33 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:03 pm
 

Memphis owner: fans shouldn't worry about future

Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley tells fans they shouldn't worry about the team's future in Memphis. Posted by Ben Golliveroj-mayo The word of the week in the NBA has been contraction. Once Ken Berger broke the news that reducing the number of teams in the NBA from 30 was an option that will be considered during upcoming rounds of Collective Bargaining between owners and players, the spotlight started shining on the league's struggling franchises, with an apparent gap developing between rich and poor.  Small-market Sacramento Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof came out quickly to state unequivocally that the Kings wouldn't be contracted or sold, while big-market former Los Angeles Lakers co-owner Magic Johnson came out in favor of contraction. Over the weekend, another small-market owner, Michael Heisley of the Memphis Grizzlies, was interviewed by Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal about the future of the Grizzlies, who are celebrating their 10th anniversary season in Memphis but are struggling to fill their stadium. Calkins asks Heisley whether the Grizzles can survive another 10 years.
"I don't know if I'll make it to a 20th year!" he says.
Heisley laughs. Even at 4 a.m., the man has a point. Who knows what will happen over the course of the next decade? Who knows if the Grizzlies will still be here in 2020? Who knows if Heisley -- now 77 -- will even be around to own the team? "I don't think it's something for people to worry about," Heisley says.
Making promises you can't keep is a cardinal sin for a professional sports team owner, so Heisley plays this one correctly, re-assuring the team's fans without committing to something he can't certainly deliver.  Calkins goes on to paint a morbid picture -- a half-empty FedEx Forum, talk of relocation at the team's 10th birthday party -- but he also points out that the team's arena deal and the depressed national economic state work against a Grizzlies relocation plan. The Grizzlies almost always make the short list for teams that might be contracted, given their attendance, struggles to make the post-season, and the fact that the team is in Memphis after relocating from Vancouver, in probably the best case of an expansion going wrong for the NBA.  One thing's for sure: no team that has been included in the contraction discussion has more talent than the Grizzlies. Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, OJ Mayo, Mike Conley and Hasheem Thabeet would make for one heck of a dispersal draft.  Thanks to Heisley, however, that fantasy doesn't sound like it's in play any time soon.
Posted on: September 23, 2010 6:03 pm
 

Preseason Primer: Memphis Grizzlies

Posted by Matt Moore
 
Out of nowhere, the Grizzlies rose to relevance last year, nearly making the playoffs in the hyper-competitive Western Conference. Over the summer they bucked up and paid the bill to keep Rudy Gay and became embroiled in a bizarre holdout with their rookies. The team again has low expectations and is flying under the radar. The question most people have is if they can possibly succeed like they did last season, and is that nearly enough? We take a look at where the Grizzlies are as we continue our Preseason Primers...




Training camp site: Memphis Grizzlies

Training camp starts: September 28th

Key additions: Tony Allen (free agency), Acie Law (free agency), Xavier Henry (draft)

Key subtractions: Ronnie Brewer (free agency)

Likely starting lineup:
Mike Conley (PG), O.J. Mayo (SG), Rudy Gay (SF), Zach Randolph (PF), Marc Gasol (C)

Player to watch:
Xavier Henry. Why? Because we haven't seen him since Kansas finished getting eliminated by a massive underdog in the NCAA tournament. Henry was absent from Summer League due to the holdout stemming from Michael Heisley's bizarre insistance that the rookie earn his bonus by doing something extra as far as performance. Like, some sort of bonus performance. Silly man. Eyes will be on Henry, whose play could have multiple impacts on the Grizz. If he solidifies the backcourt rotation, the Grizzlies will finally gain some depth after being one of the shallowest rotations in the league last season. Furthermore, if he can work with O.J. Mayo as a pair of combo guards, it could mean less time for Mike Conley. With Conley coming up on a possible extension, these are relevant questions not just for this season, but going forward.


Chemistry quiz:
How can the frontcourt stay chipper? Marc Gasol, whose overall play may have been better than All-Star Zach Randolph last season, continues to face the fact that the Grizzlies drafted Hasheem Thabeet with the second overall pick. Hamed Haddadi occasionally looks like a player worthy of minutes. DeMarre Carroll needs to compete and compete hard in training camp if he wants to find minutes this year. The Grizzlies aren't deep in the frontcourt, but given the bizarre makeup of the players involved, its a wonder they got along so well last year. But they did. Shockingly, after Allen Iverson departed for the basketball ether, the team became very close, constantly rushing to each other in confrontations and celebrating. The team genuinely likes each other. They're like a peacful commune... that probably smells really bad at times.


Camp battles:
Backup point guard should be a good one, with Acie Law, Greivis Vasquez, and other camp invites vying for the backup slot. Okay, maybe "good one" is a bit much, but it should be competitive, especially given there's not that much of a gap between those players and Mike Conley in the point guard department.

Injury issues:
The Grizzlies are primarily healthy. Marc Gasol looked completely healthy in the FIBA tournament, though the wear and tear may have some impacts. All in all, they're a young team that's pretty healthy.

Biggest strength:
Up and down. The Grizzlies can get up and down the floor and have an efficient offense. They crash the offensive glass especially well with Randolph and Gasol. They hustle and very rarely get caught without an option to create a shot.

Glaring weakness:
Yet again, the answer is defense. The Grizzlies aren't individually terrible on defense, they're just bad within the system. Part of that function is built around their inability to get rest. The starters always play, and they get worn down. Plus, they're young. Put simply, if the team defense doesn't improve considerably, the odds of their record improving the ten games they need to make the playoffs are slim.
 
 
 
 
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