yardbarker
RealGM Basketball

Memphis Grizzlies BlogMemphis Grizzlies Blog

The Western Conference At The Deadline

When the clock hit 3 PM EST on Thursday, basketball fans around the globe groaned as another NBA trade deadline passed without the epic blockbusters that fill the RealGM Forums. Although the deadline lacked a true blockbuster, the trades that were made (and the ones that were left on the table) will undoubtedly shift the landscape of the Western Conference playoff picture and possibly the team that will be facing the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals (It’s a lock, nobody is seriously questioning it).

The four most notable trades in the West came from the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers.

The Warriors, who picked up Steve Blake from the Los Angeles Lakers, will look for him to provide the steady hand off the bench that they have been pursuing since Jarrett Jack left in the offseason. Blake’s addition isn’t going to drastically improve the team, but he is able to give the team quality backup point guard minutes behind Stephen Curry, given Jordan Crawford’s inability to play without Brad Stevens as his coach.

The Rockets moved little used backup point guard, Aaron Brooks, to the Denver Nuggets for Jordan Hamilton. After refusing to lower their insane asking price on Omer Asik, the Rockets decided to fill their lack of a stretch four with Hamilton. Despite Hamilton blatantly not being a power forward or an elite shooter (39 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3), the Rockets apparently believe he can become one when freed up as Dwight Howard draws attention in the post. The more important aspect to this trade is that it likely allows the Rockets to call-up D-League star, Isaiah Canaan.

The Spurs traded little used point guard Nando de Colo for Austin Daye. In one of the day’s most intriguing moves, the Spurs took on another reclamation project in the form of a 6’11 shooter who was once a top prospect coming out of high school. While Daye has struggled to earn minutes outside of his second season in the NBA (when he shot 40 percent from 3), he has tremendous length, can guard multiple positions, and San Antonio has shown interest in him. If that isn’t a sign of someone that will be playing meaningful playoff minutes in May, I am not sure what is.

The last deals of any consequence in the West were by the Clippers. They traded both Antawn Jamison and BJ Mullens for the rights to a Turkish player that probably is unaware he was traded, and a conditional second round draft pick that will likely never happen. These deals, while not interesting beyond the salary implications for the Clippers, do allow open roster spots on the team for buyout candidates. Look for Glen “Big Baby” Davis to join his old coach, Doc Rivers.

While each team above made a move – albeit small – at the trade deadline, the other five teams in contention, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies all stood pat.

Although several teams are in desperate need of a big man (OKC, PDX, PHX), no one budged on Philly’s offer of two second round draft picks for Spencer Hawes.

Portland, who is without a second round draft pick until 2019, had a tremendous need for Hawes with Joel Freeland out for two months and LaMarcus Aldridge banged up.

The Thunder flirted with a deal for Knicks embattled shooting guard, Iman Shumpert, but backed off at the last moment.

As for the remaining needs, the slew of veterans that will likely be bought out this upcoming week will have to suffice. Fortunately for these teams, Glen Davis, Caron Butler, Danny Granger, Jason Terry, Emeka Okafor, Chris Kaman, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Antawn Jamison are all buyout candidates.

Many NBA teams believe it is better to trade during the offseason so that players can get familiar with a system and their teammates, while others utilize the short second half of the season as a tryout for recently acquired players to see if they’re long-term fits. It appears that teams trading in the offseason are better off. For any fan grumbling over their team not making a blockbuster yesterday, here’s a stat you need to know: one; as in the number of Championship teams during the last 25 years to trade for a starter at the trade deadline (Rasheed Wallace to the Pistons in 2004). So while fans of the Rockets clamored for Rajon Rondo and Warriors' fans hoped for Kevin Love, just know that the odds of you winning the title with those guys was slim to none.

Happy Trade Deadline everyone! Only 124 more days until the NBA Draft!

Rudy Gay Faces Difficulty Of Recapturing Budding Stardom

Rudy Gay was a mesmerizing young talent out of Jim Calhoun’s UConn program, and sometimes teammates would ask him if his defender was troubling on a certain night. Gay constantly responded the same way: Don’t credit the defender, it’s solely my fault. It was his way of maintaining an edge, maintaining confidence when he missed shots.

This belief delivered him as a 20-point scorer in his second NBA season, and Gay had taken the projection of Carmelo Anthony before him, Kevin Durant after him. Pure scoring. A smooth, mechanically sound jump shot. Boundless athleticism. Gay always possessed the tools – crafted under Calhoun – and tremendous strength at 6-foot-8.

Gay reached a peak three seasons ago, and at 27 now he hasn’t attained the individual or team milestones that his gifts were expected to bestow. Three games into the Toronto Raptors’ season, his shooting is pedestrian and he admits he’s hastily searching for an offensive rhythm.

Over the summer, Jerry Colangelo inquired with Gay about the possibility of returning to USA Basketball for a minicamp compiled of guys mostly in their early twenties. As much as anything, the Team USA architect was offering Gay an opportunity to surround himself again with hungry, aspiring players.

Gay had considered Colangelo’s call, his invitation, to participate in the program with which he played a reserve role in the gold medal of the 2010 World Championships, but he ultimately declined.

“Mr. Colangelo respected that I couldn’t be involved with it this summer because I had a lot of things going on in the summer,” Gay told RealGM. “I still want to be part of USA Basketball, part of the experience. Of course.”

As a final cut of the Olympic team in 2012, Gay had came so close to placing himself on a grand stage around all these stars – Anthony and Durant and, yes, LeBron James. In some ways, the July experience could have allowed Gay to cultivate an in with Team USA officials, in a summer Paul George, Gordon Hayward and Harrison Barnes used wisely.

From the summer to the new season, Gay understood the looming pressures of lifting the Raptors into the playoffs. That’s the expectation his arrival in late January brought, and Toronto closed last season going 18-18. Gay missed 10 of 14 shots for 18 points in Saturday’s 97-90 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, but he grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds.

Gay believed his accuracy in shooting would be boosted, his life beyond the court clearer, by a procedure on his eyes in the offseason. They had deteriorated severely in recent years and bothered him away from basketball, so surgery proved to be a no-brainer.

“The procedure was something that had to be done,” Gay told RealGM. “Not just for basketball purposes, but for living. You got to see when you’re driving, and see all the little things in life and see your kids right.”

On his early struggles with his jumper, Gay sighed.

“I’m just trying not to be one-dimensional,” Gay said. “I can’t remember the last time I made a shot. … My shot’s not falling, and I want to make efforts on defense and on the rebounding glass.”

The Raptors have become a heavy jump shooting team with Gay and DeMar DeRozan initiating most of their offensive sets in isolations or screen plays. In what will assuredly be the last season of his contract, it’s clear Gay will continue to be in tireless speculation. Dwane Casey, for his part, remains a hard charging, pushing coach – no matter how uneven a situation he’s been dealt in previous spots (Minnesota), too.

In his mind, Casey knows the Raptors will go as far as the streaks of Gay and DeRozan, and that means they’ll be as high as the bottom half of a treacherous, top-heavy Eastern Conference playoff bracket. “For us to win, [Gay] and DeMar both have to playmakers – as well as scorers,” Casey said.

After taking the Raptors’ lead management job, Masai Ujiri made sharp signings to add depth and youth, including Dwight Buycks, Julyan Stone and Tyler Hansbrough. These Raptors should compete for a playoff seed; yet they’re firmly planted in the dreaded middle ground of the NBA, a non-contender as constructed that’s also a not a threat for a high draft pick.

Looking back, Gay has always refuted any notion that the Memphis Grizzlies stood as a better, more savvy team without him on the court. Following the trade of Gay last season, the Grizzlies went to the Western Conference Finals, and he would have simply given them an additional scorer at critical times their offense couldn’t match a rigid defense.

Six months after the Grizzlies’ run, Gay shook his head when asked about his possible role on that Memphis team and said, “They’re a good team. That’s all I’ll say … I’m a Raptor now, so I can’t worry about it.”

And for a moment, he had returned to that bashful star molded at UConn. Except now, Rudy Gay is learning the burden of retaining a standing he’d once held in the league, as a young, emerging talent.

The Marquee Non-National Teams To Watch

As we embark on another NBA season, I wanted to take some time to talk about the teams that I am most eager to see over the course of the campaign. While there are teams that will get plenty of mainstream attention, there will be plenty of talent and exciting basketball all around the league. While there are no direct criteria, my non-national teams have to have entertainment value on a game to game basis and fascinating pieces in the form of young talent or new additions. Each of these squads fits that bill and there were a few tough omissions as well.

While the list I used did not include NBATV games, it should provide a solid basis for this limited purpose. Teams with ten or more listed games on ABC, TNT, and ESPN were not considered for inclusion though they play plenty of League Pass games.

Honorable Mention: Minnesota Timberwolves- Ricky Rubio is my basketball spirit animal and if he stays healthy I will probably watch more of Minnesota than any other team on League Pass.

5. Utah Jazz: The combined age of their five projected starters on Opening Day is 108 with no starter older than 23. That is simply remarkable for a team that could actually be pretty competitive this season. As of this writing, it appears both Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors will be playing without long-term contracts heading into Restricted Free Agency next summer, which should give this season a little extra intrigue. I am also looking forward to seeing Rudy Gobert, my favorite enigma in the 2013 draft class with his impossible 7’9” wingspan.

4. New Orleans Pelicans: The first of the grand experiments because they may finish games with Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans sharing the court (and one basketball, presumably). Anthony Davis had an excellent and underappreciated rookie season but should get more attention now that the team should be more relevant after adding a ton of talent. Look for Ryan Anderson to continue to play a big role and continued development by Al-Farouq Aminu would make the Pelicans much more dangerous moving forward.

3. Memphis Grizzlies: Easily the best team to qualify for the list since they could potentially have the best record in the Western Conference in 13-14. Marc Gasol has been a joy to watch the last few seasons and Mike Conley came on as a force on both ends of the floor this past season. Tony Allen makes every match-up with a quality offensive foe substantially more fun and despite being an elite team the Grizzlies also have intriguing young talent in Ed Davis (24), Kosta Koufos (24), Nick Calathes (24) and Jamaal Franklin (22).

2. Detroit Pistons: The second grand experiment assuming they fiddle with Greg Monroe, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond playing together. The three of them gobbling up all of the available PF and C minutes is fascinating but the real question is whether we will see them close out games together. Add in the immense unbridled talent of Brandon Jennings and unknown commodities in the form of rookies Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tony Mitchell and you have a team worth following closely.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Over the past few seasons, Cleveland has amassed one of the most compelling collections of young talent the league has seen in quite a while. While some of those picks could have been made differently, they have a franchise player in Kyrie Irving and fascinating pieces like #1 pick Anthony Bennett, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson (who changed shooting hands this summer), Tyler Zeller, and one of my favorite post-lottery 2013 draftees Sergey Karasev. That alone warrants inclusion on this list but bringing in Andrew Bynum makes them a clear choice for #1. His combination of talent and contract situation (two year contract but only about $6 million of it is guaranteed) pushes the Cavs to another level of intrigue. The possibility that the team adds prodigal son LeBron James at some point in the next few summers provides another lens to view this season while Anderson Varejao has been consistently fun to watch when healthy. Regardless of how the season turns out, a healthy Cavs team will dominate my attention on League Pass.

30 Rapid-Fire Questions For Each Team's Front Office

The following 30 questions are the biggest issues facing each NBA front office as the 13-14 regular season begins.

30-Team Offseason Rundown

Great drafts for the Rockets, 76ers, Nets, Warriors, Hawks and Grizzlies headline this complete rundown of the 2013 offseason.

2013 NBA Offseason Primer

With the 2013 NBA offseason underway, here is a primer on what all 30 teams are facing.

Leroux's 2013 NBA Draft Review

Breaking down all 30 teams by category of how they fared in the often surprising, never disappointing 2013 NBA Draft.

2013 NBA Amnesty Primer

One fun component of the Amnesty rule is that we know exactly which players are eligible for it and that number can only decrease over time since the players had to have been under contract with the same team before the new CBA.

Pressing On: Lineup Considerations For The Grizzlies In A Post-Rudy Gay World

Evaluating the lineup trends and their net effect on offensive and defensive output since the Grizzlies traded away Rudy Gay.

How Many Players Teams Acquire At Each Trade Deadline On Average

The Kings, Knicks, Rockets, Thunder and Cavaliers have been the most active teams at the deadline over the past decade, while the Spurs, Pistons, Heat, Lakers and Pacers have made the fewest deals.

Grizzlies Winning 'Big'

While most of the basketball world is going to small ball, the Grizzlies employ a big frontcourt that can pound teams for points in the paint and rebounds. The Grizzlies have reached the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, but can we now consider them a legitimate title threat?

Leroux's 2012-13 NBA Tier Predcitions

While the drop-off from the Heat to the rest of the Eastern Conference is severe, the Lakers, Spurs and Thunder have quick company in the second and third tiers.

Leroux's 30-Team Offseason Review

The Nuggets, Lakers, Heat, 76ers and Nets were amongst the teams with great offseasons, while the Bucks, Magic, Suns, Knicks, Cavaliers and Bulls were in the bad column. Here's how all 30 teams have fared in the 2012 offseason.

Team-By-Team Gold Medal Winners

The Jazz and Thunder have had the most Gold Medalists since the USA began bringing NBA players in 1992, while Duke leads amongst colleges. How do the other 29 NBA teams rank?

The Value And Potential Of Josh Selby

If you consider his pedigree, Josh Selby's co-MVP performance this summer could be a sign that a once highly-touted phenom is back on track. Selby has established himself as an NBA talent, and he has the chance to carve out a career as a dynamic combo guard off the bench.

Return Of Arthur, Maynor Will Let Two Contenders Improve From Within

Neither the Thunder or Grizzlies have had the flexibility to make any major moves this offseason, but both should be significantly improved by a talented young role player coming off a year-long injury.

Team-By-Team Top Position Needs

Center represents the position of greatest need for nearly half the NBA, while power forward isn't the top priority for a single team.

Notes From 2012 NBA Draft Media Day

Polling the Green Room candidates to determine who they think will be the second best player of the class, the rise of skinny guys, a new Harrison Barnes and which team workout was the toughest.

The Most Dangerous Team In The Western Conference?

At every position on the floor, the Grizzlies have at least one player who can create their own shot, defend and shoot. While they don’t have a transcendent superstar, they have the personnel to exploit teams who surround their All-NBA players with one dimensional players.

The First Round Rundown

The first round begins this weekend, when eight best-of-seven series featuring sixteen teams commence. There’s no way to watch all of the games, so here’s a viewer’s guide for the ones to watch and the ones to skip:

Older Blog Posts »

 

Basketball Wiretap Headlines

    NBA Wiretap Headlines

      NCAA Wiretap Headlines

        MLB Wiretap Headlines

          NFL Wiretap Headlines

            NHL Wiretap Headlines

              Soccer Wiretap Headlines