Tag:Memphis Grizzlies
Posted on: February 21, 2011 4:07 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 12:03 am

NBA Trade Deadline: Ten Most Wanted

With the NBA trade deadline approaching, we take a look at the league's ten most wanted players for acquisition before Thursday afternoon.
Posted by Matt Moore

The NBA trade deadline is just three days away (Thursday, February 24th at 3 p.m. EST). The Melo trade has held up a lot of movement but there's a lot of talk bubbling beneath it. With it expected to be resolved in the next 24 to 48 hours (like we've said about ten times, but bear with us), it's going to be a fast and furious final trade season under the current CBA agreement.  Many are predicting a toned down deadline due to the CBA, but there are enough buyers (Houston, Boston, Chicago, New Jersey) and enough sellers (Portland, Indiana, Charlotte) to make for some interesting developments as we head down the stretch. But who are the players that everyone's clamoring for? And why are they worth that much?

Saddle up, partner. Here's the true grit behind our NBA Trade Deadline 10 Most Wanted. 

1. Carmelo Anthony: Melo, naturally, is the most wanted. It's not just the vast history of all this nonsense; it's how it's come down to the wire. Two teams, both of which will be located in New York in 2012, with rich, eccentric owners, throwing out asset after asset to try and acquire the All-Star. Anthony's worth it. Even with his defensive issues and relative inefficiency compared to his fellow elite players, Anthony can score anytime, anywhere, anyway. He's a clutch performer who can take over a ballgame and having a 1-2 punch between him and either Amar'e Stoudemire or Brook Lopez would significantly boost the Knicks' or Nets' hopes for the future. His agents have kept the pressure on since July, and Denver has been slowly losing their resolve to keep him. The odds are heavily favored that Anthony will be moved sometime this week and it will kick off a series of deals with the other front offices around the league. And then the New York/New Jersey circus will really kick off. 

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports Monday that that the Nets may actually be trying to get two of the assets the Nuggets would get in a deal with the Knicks for two first rounders. If that works out, the Knicks and Nets will combine to give Denver two starters and three picks. It's not the loaded deal the Nets were offering for Anthony, but it's still an insane wagon-full of assets. If they wind up with Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, and three first-round picks in exchange for just Melo and Billups, they've still lost because they lost an All-Star. But they also will have successfully set the team up to immediately turn around and compete right off the bat. They'll still be able to move J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and have Ty Lawson and Aaron Afflalo to build around along with Nene. This is the dream scenario for the Nugget if they have to trade with New York. 

2. Andre Iguodala: Iggy has been on the market for literally years. He's the consummate supporting player, able to pass, rebound, and score. He's never played alongside a top-flight point guard (sorry Philly fans, Jrue Holiday's not there yet), and has had to play the part of the primary offensive option, which he's ill-suited for. The Sixers have recently made quite a bit of noise about him not going anywhere, which frankly, baffles us. They have Evan Turner who has shown significant signs of progress as the season has progressed, and his value on the market trumps his value to the team as it tries to build a new core. But he has $44 million left on his contract, which is a big price tag to swallow for a guy who should probably be no more than third option on offense. That's not a knock on Iguodala, as we've come to understand the things he does defensively and in support for the system are nearly invaluable, and that's before we factor in his locker room leadership. If a team decides it wants to make a big move and has young assets to spend, Iguodala is a prime target for a late push.

The real answer to whether Iguodala will be moved is whether Rod Thorn and coach Doug Collins think that he's able to co-exist with Evan Turner, and if they think Iguodala can continue to be the face of the franchise with so much young talent around him. Jrue Holiday, Turner, an improved season from Thaddeus Young, and even with Elton Brand performing better than expected. At the same time, the Sixers are right in the playoff hunt, in an underwhelming middle of the Eastern Conference, and a great shot at making a run this season. However, the Sixers would be foolish to commit to Iguodala, turning down a good offer for him just to make the playoffs and get run out of the building in the first round. Part of putting your team in a position to win championships isn't just figuring out what will work, but what won't. Iguodala will continue to elicit calls right up until the deadline, big contract or no.

3. Andre Miller:  Old man game in the house!  Miller is an aging, veteran point guard who has proven he can still drop 40 every once in a while. You know exactly what you're getting with Miller. He is a consistent, reliable scorer who lacks upside and athleticism, but always manages to find a way to get it done. He's a relative steal at $3.6 million (prorated) for this season and $7.8 million non-guaranteed for next season. That means two different types of teams can vie for him: those seeking a veteran point guard upgrade to push them over the top, and those looking to dump salary next year while giving their team a reliable fill in for the remainder of the year. The Blazers have been so-so on Miller since he arrived as a free agent in 2009, clashing with Nate McMillan. But those problems were resolved quickly and he's grown to be a strong force in the locker room, the steady hand on a ship filled to the brim with the injured. Yet, he's 34 and the Blazers look to go younger. Miller has repeatedly been listed as a target in a potential Devin Harris trade, among others.  The Blazers may look to keep him order to push for the playoff income, especially given his ability to connect with LaMarcus Aldridge, but if Rich Cho elects for a full-scale revamp for the long-term, Miller will be one of the first assets put on the block, and one of the first to attract multiple offers. 

Miller's attitude may be a huge factor. He doesn't want to leave the Blazers, but is also tired of being discussed under trade talk. Moving to a rebuilding project, however, would be extremely difficult for him at this point in his career and could create an ugly situation with any team that trades for him who isn't on the up and up. On the flip side, he's a perfect option for a contending team looking to acquire a capable back-up point guard to get them over the top. While there's been little noise about this, Orlando would be one team you'd think might be giving Portland a call to inquire about Miller, should the Nets not immediately move Harris for Miller in the next few days, either through Denver or independently.

4. Marcus Camby: Speaking of the Blazers, they've got another aged, talented, productive player starting for them, and he too could be on the move. Camby has a little less than $17 million (prorated) left on his contract. He's a versatile, talented defensive center who can impact a game at both ends, is reliable and capable. He's a seasoned veteran who does his job, has an expiring contract after 2012, and can push a contender over the top. The only problem? He doesn't want to leave. Sources have said he would "contemplate retirement" if he was traded to a rebuilding situation, and his agent has talked strongly about how much he wants to stay in Portland, where he's moved his family. We've seen this before, as older players really love the atmosphere and lifestyle of raising their families in Portland, on a team with a loving fanbase that always tries to contend. Still, Camby can't control what happens, and if presented with an opportunity to win a ring, he would likely welcome the opportunity wholeheartedly. 

The same problem exists for Rich Cho with Camby as it does with Miller. They're both huge reasons why the Blazers are still in the playoff hunt and moving them would almost certainly result in a drop to the lottery. The Blazers are likely aiming to get a deal that frees them up long-term while still taking on players of a solid caliber. They know it will be difficult to improve with a trade for Camby, but they may be able to move his conract while still adding talent to keep them in the same place. Houston has been mentioned by CBSSports.com's Ken Berger as a possible destination for Camby.

5. O.J. Mayo:  Talk about a bad year. In Summer League, the Grizzlies pressed O.J. Mayo to play point guard, resulting in some terrible, turnover-filled performances after which he was yanked following a handful of performances. He was cut from Team USA despite their need for perimeter shooting. In preseason, Lionel Hollins questioned him publicly. He started the year in a shooting slump, so significant that Hollins decided to move him to the bench, in order to improve their bench scoring, the first time Mayo has come off the bench in organized ball in his life, mostly likely. His name started to appear in trade rumors. He watched as Mike Conley got a $40 million extension, with Lionel Hollins backing him for two years despite his struggles, while Mayo was yanked to the bench at the first sign of a slump. He got into a fight with Tony Allen on a team flight over a gambling dispute and got his lights knocked out. And then he got busted for a performance-enhancing drug, earning him a ten-game suspension. 

So why then is Mayo then such a popular trade prospect? Because he's very good. In his first two years in the league he was a high-level perimeter threat, able to score both in spot-up situations and off the dribble. He has a ways to go on defense, particularly against larger two guards where he's almost always undersized, but he shows great quickness and anticipation. He's still on his rookie contract and will be an RFA under the newly modified CBA next summer, meaning he's not a risk to depart a team that acquires him. And he's one of the few players who is truly capable of dropping 30 on a given night when he's hot. He's everything you want in a trade prospect. Unwanted by his team, available for affordable extension, talented, still with upside, and with low trade value due to off-the-court issues and team decisions which don't signify long-term problems. The Grizzlies have consistently said publicly that they plan to re-sign Mayo and not trade him. But there have been suggestions across the league that teams have inquired about him and received positive feedback that he can be had for the right price, though that's expected to possibly be too high. Mayo is teetering on the very edge of a move. If a GM gets itchy to acquire a player of that ilk, he's likely to go. 

6. Aaron Brooks: Seems like only yesterday he was carving up the Lakers in the 2009 playoffs, prompting L.A. fans abroad to ask "Who IS this guy?!" Now he's an upcoming free agent without an extension, disgruntled and unhappy as the Rockets have done what they usually do. Get the most out of a player's ability without ever over-committing to a contract they would regret later. They did the same thing with Carl Landry, eventually signing him on the cheap, then trading him to Sacramento for Kevin Martin. Now they face a similar situation with Brooks, only he represents an expiring contract, increasing his trade value. 

Brooks' value on the open market isn't sky high. He's an undersized point guard who's not particularly efficient. He doesn't have insane athleticism, nor does he possession tremendous vision .He's just a good, solid, young point guard who can be had for a reasonable price. And even with the depth of the point guard position, those are still valuable. Brooks has incredible speed and is a tremendous finisher at the basket. He's had some trouble with Adelman but this season has been the first where he's struggled with team issues. What's more, the Rockets won't horde him, trying to get the most value out of him. Instead, he can be had in a combination package with some of the rest of the Rockets' young talent. But Brooks can be used as the centerpiece in the deal. A team looking for a backup point guard to provide scoring will likely look to Brooks first when they go to market. 

7. Andrei Kirilenko: It's baffling that in the midst of what seems more and more like a disastrous season for the Utah Jazz, Andrei Kirilenko's name hasn't started foaming from sources' mouths like the sources have Russian Freak Wing Rabies. Kirilenko is 29 with several good years still left in him, averages 13, 6, and 3, with 1 steal and 1 block in 32 minutes per game. But biggest of all? He has a $17.8 million expiring contract. Close to $18 million coming off the books. There's been a lot of talk that expiring contracts won't hold as much value this year with the CBA coming up, which doesn't make a lot of sense. For starters, the new CBA likely won't affect luxury tax payments for this season. Next, even if the cap is decreased significantly, and even if it is made into a hard cap, space under that cap will still be valuable. Especially for teams looking to park contracts like Kirilenko's to get rid of their players and change things up. Kirilenko isn't the star the Jazz hoped he would be when they signed him to his last contract. But he's still a tall, strong, veteran player who can contribute to a contending team, or help a rebuilding franchise transition. Kirilenko will likely start popping up in rumors as the deadline draws nearer. 

The problem is that even by paying for a rental with Kirilenko, you don't know what you're going to get. His time with Utah has been described with significant high points and low points. He's been a big reason for the Jazz' continued success, but has also never taken the next step that management thought he would when the signed him to the extension. Teams trading for him have little way to tell how he would react in another locker room, and that's a big gamble for the remainder of his $17.8 million contract. 

8. Devin Harris: Harris was thought to be the building block of the Nets' rebuilding project when they traded Jason Kidd for him. But he's only been above average, never great, especially after that first season. When the Nets were in the lead for the John Wall sweepstakes last year, which of course they lost, there was rampant talk that the Nets would trade Harris once assured of the No.1 pick. We never got to find out the answer to that as the Nets wound up with Derrick Favors, instead. Harris isn't as young as some folks think, turning 28 three days after the deadline. But he's in his prime, and still able to run an offense, has little injury history, good explosiveness, nice scoring ability and good vision. Which is why he's been a part of the Nets' talks for Melo since the beginning, and why should a deal fall through for Anthony, he's likely on his way out anyway. 

Harris has suffered with poor teammates but the thoughts from several front office officials is that he could produce were he on a contending team. It's difficult to go from a playoff team like Dallas to a rebuilding project, especially when his second season in New Jersey was historically bad. Throw in the weight of trade rumors hovering overhead and there's enough to cloud the issue of Harris' performance. But the Nets will have to capitalize while that value is still in effect or they'll wind up with nothing for him. Portland has expressed interest several times, including the aforementioned deal for Andre Miller, and Dallas has shown similar interest. 

9. Stephen Jackson / Gerald Wallace: One of them will probably go. Not both, most likely, but one. The Bobcats need to cut salary. They're looking at an uphill climb to the playoffs, and even then the odds of any progress there are nonexistent. They need to get rid of some of the older players on large, sizeable contracts, and these two represent their biggest sale items for such a move. Jackson has been involved in more talks. He's a veteran scorer who can drop 30 regularly, has played on a championship team (Spurs 2003), has led the most unlikely upset in NBA playoff history with the Warriors, and is respected across the league as a fierce competitor and locker-room leader. 

Sure, he's a little nuts, but who isn't? Jackson's off the court issues have vanished with age, and now his biggest liability is his contract. Golden State surrendered a massive extension to him that leaves over $20 million still left on his contract over the next two and a half years, all guaranteed. Jackson will be 35 when his contract expires. That's a pretty old player with a less-than-elite ceiling to be paying over $10 million to. But considering the possibility of CBA rollbacks on current contracts, and the chance for Jackson to contribute to a winner, he's likely going to be high on the list. The Mavericks have been most prominently discussed as a viable buyer, with Caron Butler's expiring as bait.

Wallace on the other hand was an All-Star last season, is only 28, and is a high-price addition. He's got $21 million left on his deal over three-years, and a player option for the third year. But Wallace could contribute immediately to a contender. He's a wing that can rebound, provide assists and scoring, and is an elite defender. He's reliable and has no discernibly blatant weaknesses in his game, despite a low ceiling for performance. Wallace isn't going to drop 40 on you, but he is going to stuff the stat sheet every night. Jackson has received more attention, but it's Wallace who may wind up getting stronger offers he can't refuse as the deadline nears.

10. Ramon Sessions: Sessions was drafted in the second round, spent time in the D-League, then showed up with the Bucks and  immediately showed promise. But he was then buried by Scott Skiles, and wound up signing an offer sheet with Minnesota, who of course, mishandled him, then traded him to Cleveland. Sessions has played for most of the season as the starting point guard for the team who lost the most consecutive games in history (with Mo Williams missing significant time due to injury). So why are so many teams interested in him?

Because he's talented, consistent, and efficient. Sessions has a strong ability to attack the basket, good handle, and is cheap. He's got just $10 million left on his deal over three years with a player option in the third year. He has a 19 PER and has proven to be coachable, talented, and has considerable growth potential. He's simply been passed from one bad team to the next. On a good team he could wind up as a serious addition off the bench. Which is why the Knicks and Hawks have both made inquiries about him. Sessions is the kind of player who deserves a fresh start. Maybe he'll get one to get off this disaster of a Cavs team. Either way, expect a lot of talk about him before Thursday afternoon.

(All salary info courtesy of ShamSports .)

Posted on: February 15, 2011 1:22 pm

Trade Deadline: Anyone want Thabeet?

Grizzlies "aggressively" shopping Hasheem Thabeet
Posted by Matt Moore

The fact that Hasheem Thabeet is still on the market is amazing. I mean, when you have a chance to add a player being paid as a number two overall pick avergaing 1.1 points, with 1.6 rebounds and .3 blocks while shooting 42% from the field with a PER of 4.8, how do you not jump at that opportunity? And yet the Memphis Grizzlies continue to struggle with finding a team willing to take on Thabeet. Because he is terrible. 

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
Second-year center Hasheem Thabeet remains the only piece Griz management is including in aggressive trade talks.
via Mayo returns tonight, but Griz bench has thrived in his absence » The Commercial Appeal.

The longer this goes on, the more it's going to become a problem for Memphis. It's not just about getting rid of a drain on the payroll and rotation. Thabeet's presence is a reminder of one of the worst blunders in recent team history (and it's a pretty extensive list to begin with). The team could have had Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, even Jordan Hill would have been a better pick in 2009. So getting rid of him means they won't have to deal with his restricted free agency and can at least decrease the number of times that mistake is mentioned. Owner Michael Heisley has openly said that drafting Thabeet was his call (which should forever more be used as evidence as to why he should never be involved in basketball decisions), so the ignominy is that much worse. 

Thabeet seems isolated in the locker room most times, and Lionel Hollins has elected not to use him in most games this season, even when there's a clear size advantage to be had. Thabeet's not without any redeeming qualities. He is tall, and there's a lot of upside there if he could find a coaching system that had the time, resources, and inclination to develop him. Lionel Hollins is not that coach. 

The most likely scenario for how this situation ends? Thabeet is included in a deal for O.J. Mayo as the price for acquiring Mayo. 
Posted on: February 8, 2011 1:12 am
Edited on: February 8, 2011 1:35 am

Defense sets the tone as Lakers back on track

Following disappointing losses to the Celtics and Spurs, the Lakers have won two straight after downing Memphis in an ugly slobber-knocker. 
Posted by Matt Moore

It's pretty simple, really, and that's what makes it so frustrating. When the Los Angeles Lakers execute with focus and intensity, they win. That may sound like it could be true for any team in the National Basketball Association, but it's not.  Many teams give the good effort but don't have the talent, don't have the size, don't have the experience. Nowhere was that more evident than in the Lakers' 93-84 slugfest win over Memphis to put the Lakers back on a winning streak headed into Thursday's rematch with Boston. 

Before the game, Phil Jackson commented that despite L.A. having lost the last two to this upstart Grizzlies team, that the key to beating Memphis wasn't about Memphis at all. 

"I'm not so much concerned about Memphis," Jackson said, "as I am concerned about us." 

Nothing new for Jackson, who thrives on undermining opponents and focusing on being the most talented team in basketball, which he's almost always coaching. And after the Lakers bludgeoned the Grizzlies' frontline, Jackson commented that controlling the tempo was a key to taking control of the game after a Grizzlies run in the third quarter. It's really that simple. The Lakers are a superior team, and when they focus, and execute, there's not a team in the league outside of Boston who can stop them. 

Funny, the Lakers seem to be headed to face that test back on the right track.  After disappointing losses to Sacramento, Boston, and San Antonio, the Lakers have won two in a row and seem to be playing with more cohesion, especially defensively. But the biggest advantage is still their team makeup, which features superb talent wrapped in size and length that's nearly impossible to combat for 48 minutes. 

Versus the previous losses where Kobe Bryant took over the lion's share of the offense and continued to force things, this win featured equal contributions from the entire Lakers' arsenal. But really? It was the three-headed monster of Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum, a 20'10'' beast that when functioning, swallows opponents alive. Odom, who has been the most consistent Laker this season (if you thought you'd ever say that sentence out loud, please buy yourself an ice cream cone), was huge against Memphis with 15 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, and zero turnovers. It was his three-point play late in the fourth that put the game out of reach for good. 

Jackson commented post game that he had actually decided to draw up a play for Odom instead of just having the ball given to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers watching him dribble around. After the play resulted in a three-point play, Odom remarked that they should draw that play up more, Jackson remarked, laughing. But it cuts to the center of the Lakers' problems this season, and why Jackson has remained calm, cool, and collected throughout the struggle. When they execute, when they have the energy, they are the most talented team in basketball. And no one can match up with their size and length, let alone their versatility. 

Lamar Odom said after the game, however, that it's not their size that really makes the Lakers so tough. 

"We've got so many different lineups we can play, so many guys who can play different positions. The strength of our team is our depth." 

Against the Grizzlies, that was apparent, as the combinations Lionel Hollins employed never seemed to spark a run, and the Lakers used varying combinations to constantly put the Grizzlies off-balance. For example, Pau Gasol started on, and played primarily against Zach Randolph, and Gasol's gangly reach kept the normally surefire offense or Randolph at bay, forcing a dreadful 2-14 performance that sealed Memphis' fate. You will not beat L.A. if you do not get frontcourt scoring, and the Lakers' three-headed beast outscored Randolph, Rudy Gay, and Marc Gasol 43-36, and that's before you factor in an aggressive Kobe Bryant. 

Perhaps most pertinent heading into the more hyped game Thursday was that the Lakers showed a real sense of toughness in a gritty win. There was no flashy burst of offense in this one. It was messy, ugly, and brutal. The Lakers out-muscled and out-worked the Grizzlies at the defensive end.  Ron Artest took a shot to the mouth from Marc Gasol, but the Lakers' bigs spent the rest of the night bullying the younger Gasol and company. 

The swagger is back, even as they have not poured in a consistent blowout effort yet. It doesn't have to be. All this team has to do is play to a reasonable percentage of its potential and they'll be back vying for a top-two seed. And if they don't get it, that's fine, as long as they're in a position to execute as they did tonight. But don't expect the same kind of talkative swagger you expect from Boston about this "revenge game." When asked about what the Lakers hope to do against the Celtics, Jackson cracked that cocky smirk of his and said...

"Hopefully it's not going to snow and we won't get trapped in with the ice and we'll be fine." 

Same old Lakers.  Except this time, they seem ready to throw a few punches as well as those flashy smiles. 
  • The crowd at FedEx Forum was split evenly between Grizzlies fans and Lakers fans (particularly Kobe Bryant fans as few of the other Lakers received genuine cheers).  The game had the feel of a neutral site game for both teams. 
  • Jackson said he had not yet showed the team tape from the Boston loss a little over a week ago. He planned to do that on the two-day break between games. 
  • Shannon Brown said that the Triangle forces the team concept on the Lakers, and eliminates the drive to get your stats. He also mentioned that his improved shooting wasn't on account of working with a shooting coach, but more reps inside the flow of an offense last summer. 
  • Bryant received treatment on an ankle sore after the game and was walking pretty gingerly in the locker room. 
  • After I promised not to ask Marc Gasol about his brother and the overhyped cliche-fest stories they're always billed around when these two teams meet, Gasol was appreciative, admitting that the questions were "getting a little old." As a younger brother, I completely understood. 
  • Jackson credited Ron Artest from walking away from the confrontation with Gasol, but in reality, it was a little overdramatic. It was an obvious accidental hit, and Artest seemed ready to detonate in a very Ron-Artest way before calming down and heading to the free throw line, bricking both free throws, and coming out to get treatment. Can't blame him for clanking those, though, considering the shot he took.
  • Speaking of clanging free throws, the Lakers missed as many free throws (14) as the Grizzlies hit. 
  • The Lakers refrain was pretty simple as to what won the game. Bryant, Odom, and Artest all said the same thing: the Lakers winning ways begin with defense. 
  • Snoop Dogg and Warren G were both in the house. If you have never seen Snoop Dogg interacting with SuperGrizz, the Grizzlies mascot in a superhero outfit, you have not truly experienced life. 
Posted on: February 4, 2011 10:51 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2011 10:53 pm

Cavaliers tie NBA record with 23rd straight loss

The Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night, marking their 23rd straight loss, which ties an NBA record. Posted by Ben Golliver.

The Cleveland Cavaliers tied a single-season NBA record by losing their 23rd consecutive game on Friday night, a 112-105 road loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. While their recent play resembles a car crash the losses aren't coming by accident.

The Cavaliers tied the Vancouver Grizzlies -- who lost 23 straight games in the 1995-1996 season -- and have a chance to tie the all-time record for consecutive losses overall, set by the Cavaliers during the 1981-1982 and 1982-1983 seasons. Their last win came on Dec. 18 against the New York Knicks. Incredibly, that was the only game the team has won during a 1-33 streak dating back to Nov. 30.

Friday's loss was fairly typical for Cleveland, as the undersized, undermanned Cavaliers couldn't keep pace with a bigger, stronger, more talented opponent. The Cavs disintegrated down the stretch as they were virtually unable to score in the fourth quarter. It was a particularly demoralizing end to the night as they had played energetically through the first three quarters, trailing the Grizzlies just 84-83 entering the final period. 

The fourth quarter started ugly and stayed ugly for Cleveland, as they managed just a pair of Antawn Jamison free throws in the first 4:33 of the period while Memphis went on a 13-2 run to begin the period and push out its lead to double digits. On the evening, Cleveland played just eight players, due to the excused absence of guard Daniel Gibson, who has also been dealing with a quad injury recently, and that lack of depth showed down the stretch.

By the end of it, the Grizzlies looked fairly relieved to have escaped the FedEx Forum with the win; Dropping the game and snapping Cleveland's streak would have been another black mark on a season that already has included an in-game fight between teammates and a positive drug test for guard O.J. Mayo.

Memphis was a fairly tough opponent for the Cavaliers, as the pair of near All-Stars Zach Randolph (31 points and 13 rebounds) and Rudy Gay (26 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three steals, two blocks) represent big-time match-up problems for Cleveland, who couldn't hope to keep pace on the boards for four quarters. The Grizzlies, now 27-24 on the season, have also been playing solid basketball of late, winners of five in a row and eight of their last nine. 

J.J. Hickson led the way for Cleveland with 31 points and 15 rebounds. Guard Ramon Sessions added 20 points and 11 assists.

Next up for Cleveland is what would appear to be a more favorable match-up: the Portland Trail Blazers. While the Blazers are just 1/2 game behind the Grizzlies in the Western Conference, they've been dogged by injuries recently and will not possess much of a height advantage down low.  Portland is also not playing its best basketball of the season, as a 100-87 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Friday night gave the Blazers their fourth loss in five games. 

What's more, while the Cavaliers are dead last in the league in offensive efficiency, the Blazers have struggled to score lately, unable to top 100 points since a Jan. 20 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The team has been anemic from outside and unable to provide power forward LaMarcus Aldridge with much offensive support in the paint. Portland's front court rotation, aside from Aldridge, consists of the undersized Dante Cunningham, the still-rehabbing Joel Przybilla and the ineffective Sean Marks, as center Marcus Camby is out following knee surgery and D-League call-up Chris Johnson was not retained after a 10-day contract.

Put all of that together, and the Cavaliers, having lost franchise player LeBron James last summer and Anderson Varejao to injury earlier this year, really can't ask for a much better opponent than the cold-shooting, under-manned, under-sized Blazers, who will be coming into Cleveland to play on the second half of a back-to-back. 

Should the Cavaliers lose to the Blazers, they will have the opportunity to set the NBA's all-time record for consecutive losses (regardless of whether it stretched over multiple seasons) during a Monday night game against the Mavericks in Dallas. The Mavericks, 34-15 on the year and in second place in the Southwest Division, would be the prohibitive favorites to help the Cavaliers make history.
Posted on: February 3, 2011 11:36 am
Edited on: February 3, 2011 12:27 pm

Grizzlies reach agreement with Jason Williams

Veteran guard Jason Williams reportedly signs with Memphis. 
Posted by Matt Moore

White Chocolate is back in River City. 

The Memphis Commercial-Appeal reports that Jason Williams has reached an agreement in principle with the Memphis Grizzlies. Williams will join a wretchedly thin backcourt with O.J. Mayo on suspension, and should immediately compete for the backup point guard position behind Mike Conley. Greivis Vasquez has had a handful of solid games, a few great games, and a whole lot of bags-of-vomit games. Williams should get considerable time as a veteran in Lionel Hollins' rotations, especially considering the owner upstairs Michael Heisley is big on him. 
What's interesting is how it is he came to be a Grizzly. From the Commercial-Appeal

Memphis wanted to claim Williams off waivers before he became an unrestricted free agent last weekend. Williams asked the Grizzlies to pass apparently because of his doubts about playing at all.Williams is now said to want to play beyond this season.
via Point guard Jason Williams agrees to deal with Grizzlies » The Commercial Appeal.

"Well, I'm not sure if I ever want to play again, but, okay." Congratulations Memphis, you were his first choice, just before "retire, again." 
Category: NBA
Posted on: February 1, 2011 10:51 am
Edited on: February 1, 2011 10:51 am

Game Changer 2.1.11: Sweet Emotion

Blake Griffin has help low to topple the Bucks, Jerryd Bayless hates the rim, and the Grizzlies out-work the Magic in today's Game Changer. 
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.  


Lost in the fact that Blake Griffin is a horrifyingly talented individual who's dunks are like emotional artillery pounding the opponent into oblivion is a very quiet development that has contributed mightily to the Clippers' recent surge, and it was in full display in the Clips' win over the Bucks. Against a tough, physical, defensive team with a wealth of size down low, the Clippers over-ran the Bucks with a frontcourt that poured in 48 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots. Griffin of course carried the load with 32-11, but the progression of DeAndre Jordan is significant on multiple levels. 

Jordan has developed from a raw, athletic, skinny rail of a kid in his rookie season to a hulking beast of a man at 6-11, 265 lbs. But more importantly, he's improved in the areas so many of those high-upside athletic big men never do, in basketball IQ. His positioning is better. He screens better. He runs the pick and roll better. He's more fluid, and he plays off his teammates and his effort is there. Those kinds of improvements can't be measured in the boxscore, but we're starting to see it from him night in and night out. Put that beside Blake Griffin and you have a combination that just overwhelms an opponent with size and explosiveness. Like Jon Brockman found out last night. 

Welcome to the jungle, Brockman, we've got DeAndre. 

Jordan was 7-8 from the line, his only miss coming on a tip that rolled in and out. The very model of efficiency, helping hold Andrew Bogut to 14 points. With Randy Foye stepping up, Eric Bledsoe contributing, and Blake Griffin being Blake Griffin, the Clippers look more like a complete team than they have since the 2006 playoff season.  And this without Eric Gordon!  After a terrible start to the year, Vinny Del Negro is figuring some things out in Clipperland. The Clippers have now won nine straight at home. 


Blake Griffin: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists


Dwyane Wade: 34 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists


The Orlando Magic hit their first 12 of 14 shots against the Memphis Grizzlies. After that dazzling display, they apparently thought it would be that easy the whole game. Just hoist up shots from wherever, whenever, get buckets, go home. Unfortunately, their shooting returned to Earth orbit while their defense headed for the bar.  The Grizzlies, on the other hand, continuously worked for a quality shot.  The Grizz have not been a team with coherent, smooth ball movement this season, but they were rotating the ball expertly against the Magic, and wound up with open looks and inside layups off blown Magic coverage. Mike Conley was brilliant with a 26 point, 11 assist performance, and clinched the game with a strip of Ryan Anderson off an offensive rebound, just minutes after missing a free throw to open the door to a Magic tying three. 

The Magic simply did not want to work past the first quarter.  What's stunning from this one is that the Magic had every advantage for most of the game, even in the 2nd and 3rd quarters when they were outscored by nearly 20 points. Zach Randolph was flustered by the Magic's swarming help defense, most notably from Dwight Howard, and shot just 4-11. When Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay combine for just 23 points on 9-26 shooting, and O.J. Mayo is suspended? You have to win that game. Instead, the Magic surrendered wide open mid-range shots to Darrel Arthur, having not gotten the book that says Arthur has developed an increasingly reliable mid-range game, and when he's hot, he's 5-8 hot.  The Magic did not want to effort to exploit advantages. 

An example: Dwight Howard was guarded by Hasheem Thabeet for much of the game. Hasheem Thabeet! And yet instead the Magic chose to make perimeter swing pass after perimeter swing pass to try and bust the Grizzlies' zone. It was like turning down a sledgehammer to instead try and bust a rock with a scalpel. 

Stan Van Gundy was apoplectic after the game, both about his team's defense, and a late game technical for Dwight Howard that helped extend the Grizzlies' lead to 3. Howard may not have done much to earn that tech, but he had been furious with the officials since Thabeet drew a charge on him late on an obvious call.  Once again, Howard lost his cool, the system lost its way, and Orlando lost another game.  Big win for the Grizzlies, who are now one game over .500 and within striking distance of the 8th seed in the West. 



Josh McRoberts: "Whoa, bro."

Final Thoughts:

  • The Jazz needing a late surge to hold off the Bobcats who shot 35% from the field is almost as good as a loss. Even in a win the Jazz are still completely in shambles. 
  • The Cavaliers actually competed really well against the Heat, putting some pressure on them at times and continually coming at them. It would have been very easy to lay down and die, but the Cavs at least competed as professionals. I mean, it didn't matter, since it's the Cavaliers versus the Heat, but still. 
  • John Wall is starting to regain some of his preseason form. 17 and 10 last night for Wall in a loss to the Mavericks, because they were on the road and they couldn't beat a drum on the road. 
  • If I'm Bryan Colangelo, I'm looking for anyone to take Andrea Bargnani off my hands. It's not just his non-existent interior play, it's that he's the kind of player that fans have an easy time blaming in seasons like the Raps are having. Better to make him the scape goat and cash in on whatever you can for him. Easier said than done with big years and big money left on his contract. 
Posted on: January 29, 2011 5:43 pm

Mayo blames energy drink for positive test

Posted by Royce Young

Everyone has an excuse when it comes to testing positive for something. And most of the time, it's "But I didn't know!"

And that's exactly what O.J. Mayo is claiming with his positive test for dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) that got him a 10-game suspension. Mayo though, is taking it a step further. He says he thinks it was an "energy drink" that got him in hot water.

Mayo said he didn't know the drink "had any bad substances in it" and that it wasn't as if he "ordered some supplement off the Internet." Well then O.J., glad to have that cleared up.

Why though, is Mayo even trying to explain it to us? Most American sports fans are so conditioned to athletes' excuses that they just roll off our backs. It very well may have been an energy drink that got Mayo in trouble, but here's the thing: We don't care. This is basketball. It's not like we're keeping Mayo out of the Hall of Fame over it. He took an illegal supplement, got caught and now he has to sit out. End of story right there.

I'm sure Mayo is embarrassed and probably is desperate to clear up any thoughts that he's a cheater or something. But again, it's better to just say, "I'll be more careful in the future" and move on. We'll forget, I promise you. Heck, I had already forgotten about it by this morning until I saw the story about Mayo saying it was an energy drink. And now I'm sitting here writing about it.

I just watched Rashard Lewis play in Oklahoma City last night. Not once did I think, "Hey, he took DHEA! CHEATER CHEATER CHEATER!" It's just not something we really care about or really need an explanation of. Obviously he's going to be asked about it and instead of prolonging the story just say you don't know. Playing dumb almost always works. Except when I get pulled over. Then it NEVER works.

What energy drinks have DHEA in it? Most of the common ones like Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, Amp, Rock Star, Monster and Full Throttle don't contain DHEA. So I don't really know what Mayo had. I don't know that calling him "O.J. Loco" from now on sounds like a lot of fun though.

Mayo's suspension started Friday night at Philadelphia and he will be eligible to return Feb. 15, also against the 76ers in Memphis.

Category: NBA
Posted on: January 27, 2011 6:58 pm
Edited on: January 28, 2011 12:23 am

Numb#rs: Kevin Love's all-star campaign video

Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love has debuted a new All-Star campaign video. Posted by Ben Golliver.

A few weeks back, we noted Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay's All-Star campaign video, a twist on the Dos Equis commercials starring the "Most Interesting Man In The World." At the time, we praised the ad's comedy and self-aware styling. On Thursday, NBA fans were treated to another All-Star campaign video done right. This time, Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love riffs on melodramatic cologne commercials in a spot called "NUMB#RS by Kevin Love." 

The minute-long spot is shot in black and white, with a piano background, and opens with Love walking past adoring fans wearing a suit, sunglasses and a scarf.  Love then enters a club, where he sees a mascot wearing a suit and a dress hat, drinking with beautiful women. The mascot shows Love some love by raising his glass, and Love takes it in stride, with a slight smirk and look of confusion. The shot then cuts to a face-on look at Love, as his voice delivers his pitch in classically man-sultry voice. "Who has the numbers? You tell me."

A narrator's voice then intones: "Numbers. A fragrance by Kevin Love. Part of the 612 All Star Collection." The spot then pushes a link to 612allstar.com , a site that references Minneapolis's area code and further expounds on Love's All-Star credentials.

Have a look at the video.

Love's pitch obviously center around his stats, which are ridiculous. The 10-35 Timberwolves are terrible, so there wasn't much choice in the matter, but the handling of the numbers angle is quite deft. Love is currently averaging 21.6 points and a league-best 15.7 rebounds per game.

Like Gay's spot, Love's video is self-aware and tongue-in-cheek, a must for a self-promotional ad of this nature. Love comes off as funny and personable, even though he's bigging up his own stats on a terrible team, which would usually be looked upon with skepticism and possibly derision.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com