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Archive for the tag “Memphis Grizzlies”

The Clippers And Grizzlies Traded Bad For Inconsistent

The trade deadline has not been kind to fans of the Memphis Grizzlies. They saw their best shooter get traded to the Charlotte Hornets and all they got in return was forward PJ Hairston (who has been inconsistent at best), veteran center Chris “Birdman” Andersen (he has been missing in action all season) and four second-round picks that probably will not amount to much. But just when you thought it could not get any worse for the Grizzlies, they made another trade that makes you scratch your head. The Grizzlies traded forward Jeff Green to the Los Angeles Clippers for the services of guard Lance Stephenson and a 2019 protected pick. And with that, the Grizzlies now have lost yet another offensive weapon while taking on another player that is still trying to find himself. All while the Clippers will get to see what they can do with Jeff Green more than likely being their starting small forward eventually. But in reality, what both really did is swap inconsistent (Green) for bad (Stephenson). And in the end, both could end up not being a factor for their respective teams.

In Memphis, the main ballhandler has always been Mike Conley Jr., The dynamic point guard has been the best perimeter player for the Grizzlies for a while now. What the Grizzlies have always lacked is that scoring ability and consistency from the small forward position. They honestly have not had great production from that position since they had the services of Rudy Gay. In Green, they had someone that was at least giving them a pulse at that position. But with him gone, the pulse again goes to a flatline as they try to audition people for that position. And in Courtney Lee’s spot, they will now audition Lance Stephenson potentially. In Stephenson, the Grizzlies get a guy that can play tough defense. But for the Grizzlies, they already have a tough defender in Tony Allen. Offensively, Lance will make them even worse. He has not learned how to play without the basketball yet and the only way he can help this team on the offensive end is if he gets the ball in his hands. If Coach Dave Joerger can allow Stephenson to control the ball some, then maybe they will get some more out of him offensively. If not, then you are looking at another guy on the Grizzlies that cannot knock down an open shot and looks lost off the ball on the offensive end. That will make the Grizzlies even uglier offensively, especially without big man Marc Gasol for a while.

The Clippers are essentially being hailed as the winners in this trade. With what they were getting at the small forward position with Paul Pierce, Stephenson and whoever they threw out there, is nothing compared to what they could potentially get from Green. The veteran forward is averaging 12.5 points per game this season. He can hit the open jump shot, take the ball to the basket and he can play solid defense. And to add to that, he has played for Doc Rivers before (played for Doc in Boston) and he can play the power forward position and you have a player that could help this team. You would think that this would be a move to solidify what they have going on this year. But if you have taken a look at the career of Jeff Green, it can be summed up in one word: inconsistency. Green can come out and have a great game where he scores 20 points and then come out the next week and score two points. And it is that kind of inconsistency that has driven the fans of teams he has played for crazy. With the Clippers, he will be counted on to shoulder some of the offensive load, especially with Blake out for an undisclosed amount of time. It will be interesting to see if he can find some kind of consistency with the Clippers, but he more than likely will not. And that kind of inconsistent play will make Clippers fans loathe him. But fortunate for him, he can hide a little come playoff time because of Blake Griffin being back.

Both Stephenson and Green have not exactly got the best feelings out of fans of the teams they have played for. Stephenson was banished from Charlotte after his play was awful and he has not been the same since he left the Indiana Pacers in free agency. And he more than likely will have Grizzlies’ fans throwing things at their television sets. As for Green, he has been a tease for his entire career. And he will definitely be one for the Clippers. It is only a matter of “when” and not “if”. The trade has being spoken of as a win for the Clippers, but they just traded bad for inconsistent. And there is no telling how that will turn out.

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The Window Has Closed On The Memphis Grizzlies

(photo courtesy of Justin Ford/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Justin Ford/USA Today Sports)

The Memphis Grizzlies have been a physical team that bludgeons the opponent into submission over the years. Their combination of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in the post would constantly beat up opposing teams inside. And with that combination inside and Mike Conley Jr. giving them good point guard play, they have rode that success to playoff appearance after playoff appearance. But unfortunately for them, they have not been able to turn the corner and win a title. Each season, the Grizzlies continued to use this formula to win games and make the playoffs. Last year, they ran into a buzzsaw when they faced the Golden State Warriors and lost in the Conference semifinals. Going into the offseason, the Grizzlies had to make a decision on center Marc Gasol. Were they going to let him walk in free agency or were they going to bring him back and team him with Randolph again? Well, the Grizzlies decided they were not done with him just yet and signed Gasol to a five-year, $110 million deal to remain with the team. The thinking was they would pick up right where they left off. But unfortunately, the Grizzlies have not gained the traction they thought they would. The team currently stands at 19-17 which is good for sixth place in the West. But looking at this team as they currently stand, they are not ready to win a title at all and are not serious contenders. They have moved Zach Randolph out of the starting lineup and have went to a small lineup with Matt Barnes and Jeff Green starting at the forwards. But in all honesty, this team has missed the window of opportunity they had to win a title.

The Grizzlies were a team that seemed to have all the pieces except for one during their runs in the playoffs. They had solid point guard play and great inside play with Randolph and Gasol, but they never were able to get someone consistent at the small forward position. They once had a guy there at that position in Rudy Gay, but they traded him away to Toronto in 2013. But ever since then, they have never been able to replace his production at the position. It seems like everyone in the West had a small forward or wing player that could defend and make things happen on the offensive end but them. And now they are stuck with a guy like Jeff Green. The Grizzlies traded for him from Boston and thought they had solved the small forward position. But Green has been the same inconsistent player he has always been and that has not helped the Grizzlies at all. And what hurts them even more is they are paying Green $9 million this season for 10.7 points and the inconsistent play that has plagued him for virtually his whole career. Another thing that has plagued this team is consistent bench scoring. This year they have a solid bench in terms of scoring. With Zach Randolph and Mario Chalmers coming in off the bench, they surely have firepower that can pick them up when they have droughts. But over the years, they have had some pretty pedestrian bench scoring. And that has not helped when they are in the playoffs and need someone to give them a lift on that end. These two things along with bad shooting has cost the Grizzlies time and time again on their playoff runs.

Going forward, the Grizzlies have to make a move. This team is 19-18, but they are 5-15 against teams that are over .500 this season, which is not good at all. The team has been shaken up a little by going with the smaller lineup. But even with that, the Grizzlies have not gone on a run like they usually do. So since the team is not likely to go anywhere, it is time to make some deals. The first deal that would happen is Jeff Green going somewhere. The veteran small forward has a contract that is expiring at the end of the season. Some team trying to contend will get fooled by the potential of Green and want to give up a pick for him or either some talented young players. With that happening, that gives the Grizzlies more cap space to operate going into the 2016 season and potentially some picks to work with. The move also could free up playing time for young wing Jordan Adams. The next player that needs to go is Zach Randolph. The Grizzlies are paying him over $9 million to be a bench player for them. His stats have declined for the last three years. And although he has endured himself to the city of Memphis, the relationship has gone as far as it can go. They may have missed the window to get rid of him, but they may as well try to see what they can get for him. The main thing with potentially trading both of these players is to shed money and to get younger. At some point, the Grizzlies have to retool. They cannot continue to try and add pieces to win and struggle like they are right now.

The run has been great to watch. The Grizzlies did it their way and did it better than anyone else. But unfortunately, they did not have the pieces that they needed to win that elusive title while they were searching for. Now the Grizzlies are a team that is past their expiration date. And that means it is time for them to start making some wholesale changes and get younger. We shall see what happens, but the writing is on the wall about this team already.

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Mike Conley Jr: The Man Behind The Mask And The Two Consecutive Wins Over The Warriors

Mike Conley Jr. has been critical for the Grizzlies versus the Golden State Warriors(photo courtesy of Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Mike Conley Jr. has been critical for the Grizzlies versus the Golden State Warriors(photo courtesy of Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

The Memphis Grizzlies looked bad when they faced the Golden State Warriors in the 1st game of their playoff series. They just seemed like they were playing catchup all game long. And as a result, they were blown out and Golden State controlled the whole game. It was obvious that they were missing Mike Conley, Jr, their lead guard. The point guard out of Ohio State was hit in the face during their 1st round series win against the Portland Trailblazers in Game 3. Conley had to have surgery and have plates inserted in his face for the multiple fractures he suffered. And looking at him after the surgery, it looked like he may not be able to make it back to the team when they needed him. With the way they got beatdown versus Golden State and their leader down and no timetable for him to return, the outlook was bleak for the Grizzlies after Game 1. The longer they had to go without Conley, the scarier the situation was for Memphis. But Conley, who had not played in three games and a little over a week, had a breakthrough in regards to the swelling going down on his face. He would have to wear a mask to protect his face, but it seemed like a small price to pay for him to be able to join his team. And the first test was in Game 2 of the Memphis/Golden State series. Conley came out and played well in Game 2 and Game 3 and the series has now flipped in favor of the Memphis Grizzlies. Game 4 is on Monday and Memphis now has a chance to put a stranglehold on this series over the overwhelming favorite in the Western Conference. But what has made this masked man so important to this team?

Conley came into the NBA as a guy that many did not think would develop into what he is. But because of hard work and the trust of then-coach Lionel Hollins, Conley grew up and became one of the most underrated point guards in the NBA. And more than anything, he has become the leader of that team. When a leader of a team is taken off the court, some teams cannot recover or function the same. That was true for the Grizzlies as they played in Game 1 versus the Warriors. The offense seemed to have no flow without Conley on the court. Nick Calathes and Beno Udrih were doing the best they could, but they were just not as efficient on the court. As a result, the Grizzlies did not have that calm influence on the court to get them into their sets and get the basketball to their big men in the correct positions. With Conley on the court, the Grizzlies offense returned to a rhythm and pace. It seems like every pick-and-roll was ran with perfection as Conley made the correct decision. And because of his efficiency running the offense, he has been able to make the Grizzlies a better functioning offense and he has also been able to slow the pace to what the Grizzlies like to do. By slowing down the pace, the Grizzlies have made the Warriors more of a halfcourt team. And when that happens, the Warriors are not nearly as effective, as evidence by their struggles offensively the last two games of the series.

Conley runs a smooth ship at the point guard slot, but he is also a threat offensively. Udrih is a good midrange scorer and a good changeup off the bench, but we know he cannot run the offense full-time. And as far as Calathes, it seems as if he is just trying to survive on the court when he gets playing time. When Conley is out there, he puts more pressure on the opposing defenses than his replacements do. He can hit the midrange jumper, the three-pointer and he also has a wide array of moves when attacking the basket. He can finish with either hand going to the rim and he can also shoot floaters as well. That bag of offensive tricks helped Conley Jr. come up with 22 points in 27 minutes while donning the mask for the first time in Game 2. And although he did not have a great offensive game in Game 3 versus the Warriors, he was still respected as a threat and that helped open things up offensively for the Grizzlies. The biggest thing he has done since coming back is provided someone that Steph Curry has to guard and spend energy guarding. The more energy he has to spend offensively, the less energy he has to expend on the offensive end of the court. Notice the last two games, Curry has not been as effective as he usually is down the stretch. That could be explained by the effect of one person: Mike Conley Jr. And if he is able to keep this up, he could best Curry this series and throw his name into the point guard comparisons.

The Grizzlies were done and out after the first game of this series and many were doubting if they could come back. They needed something or someone to save them from the same fate again. And just like Batman, Conley heard their call and decided it was time for him to come in and save the team like a superhero. So far, so good for Conley and the Grizzlies taking on the Golden State Warriors. And as far as the Warriors, it’s time for them to make like The Riddler and see if they can solve Mike Conley Jr and the Memphis Grizzlies before it’s too late.

Memphis Versus Golden State: Grit And Grime Versus Flash And Splash

Draymond Green got the better of Jeff Green this time on a swoop to the hoop. (photo courtesy of

Draymond Green got the better of Jeff Green this time on a swoop to the hoop. (photo courtesy of

Two of the top teams in the NBA’s Western Conference are meeting up in the Conference Semifinals. The Golden State Warriors have been resting for a while since they swept the upstart New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the playoffs. Point guard Steph Curry was spectacular and so was his Splash Brother, Klay Thompson. The Pelicans stood no chance against Golden State honestly. The Memphis Grizzlies gave the basketball world a little more drama in their series against the Portland Trailblazers. Up 3-0 in the series, the Trailblazers pulled out a game to send the series back to Memphis. But that was where their playoff journey ended as Memphis rose up and finally knocked the Trailblazers out. Along the way to the Grizzlies winning the series, they unfortunately had a big injury occur. Point guard Mike Conley, Jr. suffered facial fractures when he collided with Trailblazers guard CJ McCollum in the first round of the playoffs and he had to have surgery to repair the fractures. As far as his outlook for the series, he will be traveling with the team but it is uncertain whether Conley, Jr. will be playing or not. Many expect him to play this series, but there is just no assurances when it will happen. Anything can happen with these two excellent teams doing battle. However, the one thing we can be sure of is there will be a battle of styles between them.

The Golden State Warriors have been a team on the run for most of the season. They are known to pick up the speed when they run their offense and are in perpetual motion at all times. The results of that perpetual motion is usually a wide-open layup or a great play by either Steph Curry, Klay Thompson or Draymond Green. The biggest mismatch if Conley is able to make it on the court will be Draymond Green. The Warriors may be driven by their star guards, but the undersized power forward of the Warriors has been thriving when they have found him trailing the play for those wide-open three-pointers. The tempo allows him to get those type of looks and the more the tempo is pushed, the better he will be. The biggest thing that Memphis can do to stop him is slow the tempo as much as possible. The more they dictate the tempo, the less amount of possessions the Warriors can have to make things happen. But if the Grizzlies are not able to make that happen, then they acquired another option that could come up big in this series. Forward Jeff Green was acquired by the Grizzlies in January. Some envisioned him as the guy that could put Memphis over the top this season. But so far, he has been missing in action in the playoffs. He awakened some in the last game of the Portland series, but he just seemed to be passive and could not buy a shot. In this series, his versatility will be very much needed. Standing at 6’9”, Green can man the power forward position for the Grizzlies as well as play the small forward position. His quickness and length could be something that could both Draymond Green due to him being used to guarding perimeter players. The trade off, however, will be that Memphis will only be able to have one of their big men on the court at that time. And in this situation with their opponent, it could be Zach Randolph as the guy that loses playing time. However it pans out, the Grizzlies have to find a way to either matchup with the Warriors or assert their will on them.

The Grizzlies, unlike the Warriors, have a deliberately slow tempo. And unlike the Warriors, their system is built around inside play. For a few seasons, Memphis has been pounding their opponents into submission while winning at a high rate. And no other player has been the face of that movement other than Zach Randolph. The bruising power forward has been a revelation to Memphis ever since he landed there back in 2009. And in this series, he could be the focal point of the offense. He is undoubtedly more physical than LaMarcus Aldridge, who Golden State played against last series. And to add to it, he has the feathery touch to hit the midrange jump shot as well. His physical abilities along with his work on the offensive boards could cause a guy like Draymond Green some issues in the post. And as a result, there could be some foul trouble in his future. Because of that post mismatch, it will be important for Golden State to pick up the tempo so that Green can take advantage of Randolph at the other end of the court. But if the Warriors are not able to slow down the tempo, then there will be two reserves that could be vital. Power forward David Lee has fought injuries for much of the season. And even when he was playing, he did not get the minutes he was used to as a reserve this season. His role may not be as big as it once was, but this series he could be big in defending Zach Randolph. The bigger body could help keep him off the boards and make things a lot harder for him to score. Another reserve for the Warriors that could be off assistance more is Marreese Speights. Speights made a small albeit important impact on the last series versus the Pelicans and this series he could see more action. He, like David Lee, is a bigger body. And that bigger body could again be something that causes problems for Randolph. The Warriors have to find a way of matching up with the bruising Grizzlies lineup.

The speed of the Warriors versus the power of the Grizzlies. Which one will take over this series and assert their will? It will be fun to see what adjustments each team makes with each game that passes. And ultimately, it will be interesting to see what happens when one team gets hit with a body blow and how they responds. It should be a good series between both teams and ultimately a good test for both teams to see if they are as good as they think they are.

Kevin Durant: The Next Level

kevin durant In the 2013 playoffs, the fortune of the Oklahoma City Thunder were on their way to defending their Western Conference crown when this play changed their fortunes:

Russell Westbrook suffered a knee injury that would have him miss the rest of the playoffs. After this injury, the Thunder and their playoff hopes fell on the shoulders of their big star, Kevin Durant. And at that point and time, Durant was not ready to shoulder the load. He was trying to do any and everything to help his team win, but he just had not expanded his game enough to handle those responsibilities. He had enough to beat the Rockets, but they fell in the Western Conference Semi-Finals to the Memphis Grizzlies in five games.
Heading into the offseason, it was not for certain when Russell Westbrook would return and many thought his absence would lead to more struggles from Oklahoma City. We never really got to witness early how the Thunder would look without Westbrook because he came back pretty early from his injury. And with Westbrook returning early, Oklahoma City served notice that they were a team to be reckoned with. But just like last year, Westbrook suffered another injury. The dynamic young point guard was again having trouble with his knee and his return to the team was not expected until after the All-Star break. And again the whispers began to come again about the Thunder falling back to the pack without Russell. But little did they know that this was only the time for Durant to obtain the glow.
For those that don’t know what the glow is, check out this movie clip from Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon:

For those that don’t understand how Bruce Leroy obtained the glow or haven’t seen this movie, you must understand that Leroy went through some trials to get to where he ended up. He passively fought some battles with the villain in the scene, Sho Nuff. But eventually, he learned from those situations in the past and looked deep inside himself to find the power he had all along. Durant, like Leroy, is a pretty passive person in his demeanor. And to his detriment sometimes, he does not have that alpha personality that you see from great players all the time. But one thing Durant has done this year is learn from the past. Instead of allowing the team to sink while Westbrook is out, Durant has taken the reins and taken over this team.

Currently, he has led the Thunder to nine straight wins and carried the Thunder offensively with 12 straight games of 30+ points. But it’s not just that he is scoring, it’s how he is doing it. Coming down the stretch of games, Durant is coming up with any and every clutch basket that his team needs. And unlike last year in the playoffs, he is also finding ways to be a facilitator and looks more comfortable in that role. The growth of Durant is undeniable. Just when you thought that he could not get any better, he acquires a keen killer instinct. And with his play so far this year, it seems like he may be the next person to hoist the NBA’s MVP award. It’s still a long season, but the gap is starting to close between two of the best players in the NBA, Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
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Agent Zero Reinvented?

Gilbert Arenas was on top of the world three years ago. He was considered one of the top point guards in the NBA and he was one of the most lethal scorers in the NBA when he was “in the zone”. Then, just like that, Arenas hit the toughest stretch of his career.

Arenas and then teammate Javaris Crittendon got into an incident with each other where guns were brought into the locker room. This incident led to Arenas getting a lengthy suspension and putting a black eye on his career. That incident, along with knee surgeries, caused Arenas to fall from grace and tarnish what was once a promising career. The Washington Wizards were looking to move him. They lost all faith in Arenas being a solution and had deemed him the problem.

With the huge contract Arenas was under, moving him was no easy task. But there was one team out there that was looking to cause a major shakeup and that team was the Orlando Magic. The Magic traded Rashard Lewis to Washington for the services of Arenas in hopes that he would become the guy that everyone feared. Well, the magic didn’t return as Arenas changed teams. In fact, Arenas looked increasingly like he would never get over the serious knee surgeries and that he was a shell of himself. Gone was the explosiveness. Gone was the brashness. Gone was the guy we knew as Agent Zero.

After the NBA lockout, their was a clause created called the amnesty clause. This clause meant that teams could get rid of one bad contract and not have any repercussions in releasing that player. As soon as that clause came about, the first person many teams spoke about was Gilbert Arenas. Arenas, like most thought, was released by the Magic. He was thought to be done in most fans and GM’s eyes. After all, who wanted a guy with a bad knee who seemed to have lost his explosiveness and jump shot?

It took a while, but the Memphis Grizzlies, in March 2012, took a chance on signing the fading star with limited expectations. They were hoping to get the guy we all saw in Washington and not the guy in Orlando that looked pedestrian at best. Memphis was in need of more offense and a backup to Mike Conley, Jr. So far, Arenas has been on the money. But, he’s done it in a different way than usual.

Arenas used to be able to explode past you to the rim as well as shoot the deep ball. Now, with his explosiveness gone, he now plays off the ball a little bit better and has become more of a jump shooter than playmaker. Another noticeable difference is he is now giving effort on the defensive end. Arenas always had quick hands and feet, but he never seemed to have a ton of interest in that end of the court. Flash forward to now and he is deflecting passes and using his basketball smarts to make plays on the defensive end.

Arenas seems to have turned a new page in his career. He has scored in double-figures 3 of his 8 games with the Grizzlies, but not only has he done that, he has played with an intense desire to not only make this team better, but to revive his career. You could say he has reinvented himself, knowing that this may be his last chance to make something happen in the NBA.

The Everyday Mailbag- 12/14/11

Its that time again folks! The everyday mailbag is here again. Let’s see what the sports world wants to know!!!

Q: What potential Wild Card team in either conference can you see getting hot like Packers last year and making a serious run?
-Jabbar L., Nashville, TN

A: I think that the team that could be a spoiler if they are to make the playoffs would be the New York Jets. They always look dead and gone halfway through the season and when they hit the playoffs, they all-of-a-sudden become a team to be reckoned with. I’m starting to get that same feeling about them again.

Q: What is your favorite bowl game?
-Bobby C., Sacramento, CA

A: I have to be honest. I really don’t have one game that I absolutely have to watch. I love to watch sports in general, so it could be the smallest bowl game or it could be the BCS championship. I just love watching all bowl games.

Q: How do you think the Memphis Grizzlies will do this year?
-Jason J., Memphis, TN

A: I think the Grizzlies will be good this year, but the thing is, people will expect them to be good instead of the surprise they got last year when they faced them. I still don’t know if the Grizzlies have enough offense to be a top-tier team in the NBA. That’s what will keep them in the bottom-tier of the NBA’s Western Conference. I see them as a six seed at best this year.

Q: Are basketball coaches bullies?
-James R., Nashville, TN

A: I think not only basketball coaches, but all coaches, are tough coaches that not only coach you and instruct you on the court, but also teach you life lessons. They may come across as hardcore sometimes but in the end, most coaches are in it for trying to make the kids better than when they came to their program or when they first decided to play for that coach. Now, what other motives coaches have in coaching is a whole other subject, but no, coaches aren’t bullies.

Thanks everyone for the questions! And remember, if you have sports questions, I have answers!!!


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