Saturday night at the Roaracle features what should be a high scoring affair between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors. Neither team seems to be a fan of defense. In preparation for the game we mic'ed up Spartacus from top notch Memphis Grizzlies blog 3 Shades of Blue. If you remember earlier this season Spartacus dropped science in a great Q&A with us.
Make the jump for some thoughts on the Pau Gasol trade from the Grizz perspective, some insights on why Mike Miller wasn't moved at the deadline as expected, and what's gone right in Grizzlieville.
Golden State of Mind: It's been a little over a month since the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies and we all know how things have things have turned out down in LA. However, very little attention has been paid to the Grizzlies since that move. How is this move looking so far for the Grizzlies? How do you project this move to work out for them over the course of the next 2-3 seasons?
Spartacus (3 Shades of Blue): The move has left the Grizzlies without an identity. Much like a rudderless ship, they have wandered to and fro for the past month without any sense of direction or even destination seemingly. While I understand that the team felt it had to move Pau, what it received in return doesn't completely seem to gel with what both the owner and GM have been saying about how they envision rebuilding the team. On the one hand, they plainly stated that they did the trade with L.A. because it offered the biggest expiring contract (Kwame Brown). Then they both claim that they want to rebuild through the draft, rather than rely on free agent signings. Then why bother looking for an immediately expiring contract? *sigh*
Over the next 2-3 seasons, the Grizzlies' success will be determined by how well they draft and whether or not they use their newfound cap space wisely, even as they caution fans that they aren't likely to pursue any big names this offseason. Chris Wallace has a good track record in the draft, but his trade/free agent history is a little more on the sketchy side. Either way, it should be interesting to watch.
Golden State of Mind: Mike Miller and Kyle Lowry were two names that were rumored to be dealt at this year's trade deadline, but the Grizzlies held on to them. Do you see the Grizzlies moving them this offseason? Also are there any other players you see the Grizzlies trading this upcoming summer?
Spartacus (3 Shades of Blue): I have it on pretty good authority that the Grizzlies decided against trading Miller due to a large contingent of season ticket holders letting the organization know that if they let him go for pennies on the dollar, as they did Gasol, then they would not be renewing for next season. With that said, I can see either Miller or Lowry being moved either in the offseason -- probably for an additional first round pick -- or at some point later in the 2008/09 season. Depending upon the play of Javaris Crittenton through the remainder of this season, Juan Carlos Navarro could also be the target of a sign-and-trade deal, as he is a restricted free agent this summer. Hakim Warrick is another player who could be moved once the Grizzlies determine their draft position.
Golden State of Mind: The Grizzlies don't get much national attention or respect, so whatever has gone right for them this year has pretty much flown under the radar. As an astute follower of the Grizzlies what would you say has gone right for them this season? What do Grizzlies fans have to look forward to next season and in the short term?
Spartacus (3 Shades of Blue): One thing that has definitely gone right is the growth of Rudy Gay. He has far exceeded my expectations for this season and shows signs that he could take another quantum leap next year. If nothing else, fans of this team can look to him as a player that is worth the price of admission every night.
I'm probably in the minority on this one, but I believe that Darko Milicic has at least played up to his contract, if not his well-publicized draft status. Now that he has fixed what Marc Iavaroni described as a "fundamental flaw" in his hook shot, he is scoring more consistently while providing very tough interior defense and solid rebounding.
Unfortunately, not much else has really gone right, as the team hasn't gotten to see enough of rookies Mike Conley and Javaris Crittenton to truly know if they are part of the future or not. Juan Carlos Navarro has been a whirlwind of activity since joining the team, but is still a streaky player without the size you want in a SG. Hakim Warrick has put up solid numbers since The Trade, but has yet to prove that he can do so for a winning team or that his scoring and rebounding make up for his deficiencies on defense. Basically, this team is a boatload of question marks heading into a pivotal offseason that will reshape the franchise forever. It will be up to the front office to determine just how good (or bad) that future is.
Special thanks to Spartacus and the whole crew over at 3 Shades of Blue. The Grizz may not be the greatest team in the league, but it's impressive how well represented they are in the blogosphere. Kind of reminds me of the Warriors just a short while ago. Keep ya head up Grizzlies fans! As Warrior fans will tell you, ANYTHING can happen.