There's the Rudy Gay trade, of course. Some fans believe the team has been playing heartless ball since then. Coach Lionel Hollins is openly challenging Grizzlies management so often that SB Nation's Straight Outta Vancouver has set up a whole section labeled "Stuff Lionel Hollins says".
I suggest you just go over to Straight Outta Vancouver to check all that drama out. But today I'm focused on one thing, following the lead of aliu27: How do the post-Rudy Gay Grizzlies match up with the Warriors?
For insight on that, I contacted Kevin Lipe of SOV to get his thoughts on the Gay trade and how it might affect today's matchup between the Grizzlies and Warriors.
Q&A with Straight Outta Vancouver
1. So, after a few games without Rudy Gay, has your perspective of that trade changed any for better or worse?
Rudy Gay has averaged 21 FGAs in his three games in Toronto.Talk about your ultra green light.— Aaron Bruski (@aaronbruski) February 7, 2013
Well, three games in is still a little too early to tell, especially since the first of those three games was played before the three new guys -- Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, and Ed Davis -- could even practice with the team.
That said, there are benefits and downsides. I still think the trade makes sense from a basketball standpoint and not purely a financial one -- but here's the kicker: it only makes sense from a basketball standpoint, to me, if Lionel Hollins will play Ed Davis serious minutes as a backup big. There are some serious issues to be worked out with the Grizzlies' bench rotation right now, and the sooner that happens, the happier I'll be about the Rudy Gay trade.
At the end of the day, the trade had to be made -- especially because of the luxury tax -- so I think the Grizzlies got a good haul for what they had to offer. If they play the best pieces of the trade.
2. Tom Ziller made the case that the Grizzlies wouldn't really miss Gay all that much because he was overpaid and had a skill (perimeter shot creation) that isn't particularly rare. But how has losing Gay changed the way Memphis plays ball on either end? Is there anything Ziller's - or any other analysis - missed about Gay's departure?
There's always the locker room aspect of it. Rudy Gay had been on the Grizzlies team longer than anybody. He was there before Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. They may not have been the best of friends -- I never got the sense that Gay was particularly close with Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, for instance -- but that long-term roster stability has a lot to do with the chemistry of a team. And now that's been upset, and it'll take time to refocus.
What's going to be harder, now, is that Lionel Hollins seems to be working his way into a tiff with the front office about which bench guys he should be playing. He's clearly not playing the bench guys that make the most sense to most outside observers. So that's going to have an effect on chemistry until it settles down. But I think it will.
Again, it's barely been a week since the trade, and they've played three games, two of which were a back to back, so they've only really had one or two practices with new guys. I think they'll be fine. These guys like each other and they play hard.
3. Obviously, we're more concerned about what the Gay trade means for the Warriors - the Grizzlies have beaten in the Warriors in 13 of 16 contests in the past four years and the two are neck and neck in the playoff race. How might you expect the dynamics of this matchup to change in light of this trade?
The Warriors are scary to me this year as a Grizzlies fan. Their style of play seems to match up well: lots of outside shooting, but also the ability to go in to David Lee when they need to. They don't have the Grizzlies' issue of not being able to properly space the floor, and as a result, the Warriors' offense seems to me like it can explode at any moment, barely contained by the defense.
I really don't think the Rudy Gay trade effects this matchup much. It might affect tomorrow night's game, for sure, but I don't think it effects the overall series much. Gay wasn't performing up to his pay level, and so -- if the New Look Grizzlies can figure out how to play together -- I don't think it's really that big of a setback.
4. David Lee has said that Zach Randolph is his toughest matchup, and mentioned Marc Gasol as well. Given those aforementioned recent results between these two teams, did it surprise you at all that Lee made the All-Star team while Marc Gasol didn't?
No. Marc Gasol had a great November, and has struggled on and off sense then. He's been mostly great on defense, but the last two night's he's gotten torched by Marcin Gortat and al Horford. Marc isn't having a great year this year, even though he's having a great defensive year mostly. Meanwhile, Zach Randolph can sneeze and rack up another double double this season. Dude is incredible. So I think Z-Bo deserved it a little more than Gasol this year due to Marc's recent slump. Lee has had a great year this year, and seems to me to have been more consistent than Gasol. I think Lee deserves to be on the All-Star squad.
5. Beyond tonight's game, we're also looking ahead to the possibility of facing the Grizzlies in the playoffs, which is still a distinct possibility with one game separating Denver, Golden State, and Memphis for the 4-6 seeds right now. Which team would you rather face in a seven game series?
Right now, the way the Grizzlies have struggled since the beginning of December, I don't know. After a 12-2 start, the Grizzlies have pretty much played just above .500 since then, and it's been a lot of different things causing that to be the case: trade rumors, coaching, guys not playing well, and so on and so forth.
I don't want to presume that the Grizzlies would be able to handle any one of either Denver or Golden State more easily than the other... I think it's going to be tough for the Grizzlies no matter who they face unless they get their act together. No offense, but I'm hoping a win over the Warriors tomorrow night is in the cards, because I want them to get their act together.
For more on the Grizzlies, check out Straight Outta Vancouver.