Tag:Memphis Grizzlies
Posted on: December 31, 2010 4:19 am
Edited on: December 31, 2010 4:28 am
 

A very Rudy New Year

Rudy Gay is quietly having the kind of season you want your emerging star to have, breaking out not in any one area, but improving in every facet of the game. 
Posted by Matt Moore




It's almost a new year, so perhaps it's time to inform you in case you haven't heard. It's also a new Rudy Gay. 

After signing his five-year, $80 million extension with the Memphis Grizzlies this summer, most wondered if Gay was in any way worth that kind of investment. How could he be? From every measurable standard, he was below star-level. Points, rebounds, efficiency, wins, playoff appearances, the works. Though the Grizzlies showed signs of life last season, they faded down the stretch. Would Gay really improve in the necessary ways to justify that contract and the Grizzlies' future investment in him?

Turns out, he's on his way. And where he is now and where he's headed is a long way from where he started, in Baltimore, Maryland. 

*


It's Christmas time in Memphis, and for once, it feels like it. There's a significant chill in the air on Christmas Eve as the Grizzlies wrap up practice at FedEx Forum. Later it will snow through the night, though of course the warm Tennessee ground won't hold anything but the slightest layer of white. Still, it's got to make the Grizzlies from colder climates even more homesick at Christmas.  They've got a game the night after Christmas in Indiana, their flight departing Christmas Day, so there's no time to get to their respective homes. They'll spend Christmas in Memphis, before hopping on a plane for a hotel as they try and get off their losing streak.

For Gay, missing Christmas is just part of the job. He says that with video chat and all the technology, it's almost like being there. And "there" means quite a bit to him.  Baltimore is notorious in the NBA for two things: being tough and producing ball players. Players talk about Baltimore carefully, trying to manage how tough the environment is with their pride of the system they came out of. For Gay, he has a clear feeling of solidarity with the many players that come out of Charm City.

"The best feeling about being in the NBA is going back to Baltimore," Gay says. "It's a basketball city. There are so many guys that come out of there and try and get to this level. For those of us who do, we're thankful, and we try and stick together."

Part of the tradition of basketball in Baltimore is the AAU Teams.  The AAU circuit in Baltimore is as strong as it is anywhere in the country, and its products have filled the NBA ranks.  The teams also come under scrutiny, as was the case in fellow Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony's Team Melo personnel's involvement with Josh Selby. For Gay, though, AAU was nothing but a positive experience, and he credits the AAU programs in Baltimore for helping kids there stay out of trouble. 

As practice wraps up, the Grizzlies huddle up and chant "1-2-3-Merry-Christmas" before heading for the exits and their respective holiday plans. A few elect to hang out on the sidelines. But Gay and Mike Conley, the player for Memphis who Gay has played the longest with, remain on the floor, shooting and working, getting in extra time. The Grizzlies need it. They've lost three in a row, including an inexcusable loss to the Nets. If ever there was a time for Gay to exert the leadership he's learned as he continues his fifth year in Memphis, now would be it. 

It's not that the Grizzlies have been terrible this season. On Christmas Eve, they're only a game back of where they were last year. But last year they depended on a long winning streak after a terrible opening to recover and make it into the playoff picture before fading late. This year they've toppled the Lakers, the Suns, and the Mavericks, but have also lost to the Nets, the Warriors and the Wizards. It's that kind of inconsistency and playing up or down to their opponent that Gay says is the key to Memphis getting back on track. 
"We're just learning how to play consistently every night. We can't play good against good teams and bad against bad teams. I just want to get this team to that level. I can feel it. We're close."

*


Two nights later in Indiana, they certainly look it. The Grizzlies dominate on both sides of the floor and walk out of Indiana with a 104-90 victory. Merry Christmas, indeed. Gay sets the tone with his best performance of the season, one of the best of his career, with 30 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. The vaunted "stat-stuffer" line. The 30 points is nice, but it's been the total efficiency and productivity where Gay has made strides this season. Sunday night's win is just the jewel in the crown of his improvement in 2010. 

RG is posting career-highs in points, assists, and steals per game, as well as in advanced numbers like assist, steals, and block percentages, and eFG% (percentage factoring 3-point shooting). In essence, he's a more efficient player than he ever has been. His PER is a career high 18.8. You get the feeling that his near-career-high rebound rate (8.9%) would improve if he needed to, but with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol down low, Gay's priorities are in contributing at every level, "in every column" as his coach says. And it's that total effort that Lionel Hollins says best describes Gay's role. 

"He needs to utilize his talent, and fill the stat sheet like he has. Some nights it will be scoring, some nights it won't. Those other stat columns have to be filled regardless of whether he goes 11-17 or 6-17. I think when he gets to the level where he has an impact on the game even when he's not scoring a lot, that's his role. When you're talented like that, players can think that the fans and media expect them to score a lot of points. But the best player doesn't always score the most points."

Hollins says Gay is also a key for the defense. RG has posted his lowest defensive rating of his career with a 105 score. Far from elite, but a huge step in the right direction.

"When he's engaged, our whole team is engaged," Hollins says.
*
It's Monday night, and time for a dreaded back-to-back, this time against the Toronto Raptors, an up and down team which is missing several key players. Before the game, Gay has that leader swagger going again. He pumps up the music, dances, and raps, but also goes around the room talking to several of the younger players, providing instruction. It's reminiscent of the behavior of another talented stat-stuffing power forward, LeBron James, in pre-game activities. It will not be the last time Gay looks the part of a King-James-type that evening. 

One player that Gay gives extra attention to his rookie point guard Greivis Vasquez. Vasquez attended high school in Maryland and proceeded to attend college at Maryland as well. Gay and Vasquez have what the rookie describes as a "real relationship." Team officials refer to them as "close as any players on the team" and Vasquez credits Gay with taking him under his wing and helping him transition through the rookie process. 

Gay does not talk pre-game, but where's the same quiet, confident look he always seems to adorn as he heads for the floor and yet another moderately-attended game in Memphis. 
*
The Raptors are up eight as the second period begins. The Grizzlies look lifeless. The Raps are starting Amir Johnson and Joey Dorsey in the front court due to injuries, and yet they are the team slowing it down and grinding it out in the halfcourt set. Linas Kleiza is giving Gay fits as he rises over him to fire long jumpers. But in the second quarter, something clicks. 

RG's biggest asset? Detonation into transition. And instead of looking for it off the work of his teammates, Gay is again initiating those opportunities. He bursts out to initiate the break, forces the issue, and the offense is off and running towards a 32-point quarter after only scoring 16 in the opening set. The Raptors manage to hang in until the third, when the Grizzlies get Zach Randolph, who is battling with a cold, back on track. He takes over down low, and Gay snags two steals using that athleticism people have raved about since his days at UCONN. He uses it in conjunction with a learned anticipation, the kind of mental improvement that's made such a difference in his game. 

By the time the fourth rolls around, it's all over but the shouting. 

With Hollins completely reversing his game plan, going small instead of big, an unforeseen development reveals itself.  A lineup hits the floor of Darrell Arthur, Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, O.J. Mayo, and Rudy Gay. Gay plays point guard, initiating the offense and acting as the conduit for O.J. Mayo to break open for some buckets. It's a brief indulgence, but one that Gay says they've been working on in practice. 

"Most people who play my position aren't used to guarding a guy running point. It creates mismatches. I enjoy being in that position."

Randolph will get the headlines for taking over in the second half, but it will be Gay who ties his career high for combined assists and steals. He finishes with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals and 1 block. It's consistent, across the board, and the real foundation for the Grizzlies success. I ask Gay if he thinks the team has turned a corner. 
"I do. We learned something from the Nets loss, but these wins are starting to feel different." 
Much like Gay's season, which is starting to look every bit the part of what the Grizzlies paid for. 

*


Two nights later the Grizzlies will drop a heartbreaker in Sacramento, losing on a desperation half-court heave by Tyreke Evans. Gay will struggle with 6-17 shooting, just 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist. The Grizzlies for a night have gone back to playing down to their competition. But Gay's body of work has already shown itself. 

It's a new year, and while the Grizzlies' future this year and beyond seems very uncertain, every indication is that Gay has reached that next step. Gay says he's ready, able, and willing to be the star player on a playoff team.

"I always want to be on that stage. I love that stage.  My career has shown that I love to be the type of player that's depended on, and I'm going to continue to do that. "


Posted on: December 30, 2010 9:33 am
 

Shootaround 12.30.10: Reke brings some havoc

Posted by Royce Young
  • Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty on Tyreke's halfcourt winner: "This game deserves fuller analysis than the hot mess of exclamation marks and OMGs I can produce tonight. This play was only the final of Evans' incredible heroics, as the guard came up with two steals and, including the winner, seven points in final two minutes. Cousins was also fantastic, finishing with 20 points and 16 rebounds to help the Kings keep pace with a Memphis team leaning on 35 points from Zach Randolph. A personal MVP is Donte Greene, who as you can see knew the shot was going in as soon as Tyreke let it fly."
  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: "It's not uncommon for a few of the Kings to take turns attempting halfcourt shots after practice with nothing more than pride or perhaps a few dollars on the line. Rarely, if ever, is that halfcourt practice expected to come in handy in a game. The Kings learned Wednesday night that practice -- even practicing the unlikely -- can pay off in a game that counts. Tyreke Evans made a shot from beyond halfcourt -- about 50 feet from the hoop -- to give the Kings a 100-98 win at the buzzer over the Memphis Grizzlies at Arco Arena. Evans jumped onto the scorers' table to celebrate. Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof knelt behind officials reviewing the play and celebrated when the shot was confirmed to have beaten the buzzer. 'I've won a couple dollars off that shot,' Evans said. 'We practice it after shootaround in the morning sometimes and I'm glad we do that.' "
  • Marcin Gortat isn't loving Phoenix's defense: “I just think we have to be at the gym every day for three hours,” Gortat continued. “Learn the rotations, learn everything from the beginning. I mean, there are so many things we’re doing bad, I just can’t find an explanation. I’m trying to get some rebounds and stops, but unfortunately there’s not too many opportunities for me to rebound because the team is scoring 120-something points. “It’s just frustrating; frustrating as hell. I’m not going to lie.”
  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe on KG's injury: "As Kevin Garnett screamed in frustration, limping on the leg that he has so feverishly tried to revive over the past 18 months, the pain in his voice, the sweat mixed with tears, should have been a message to those healthy big men who have spent this season on the inactive list. Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal will have to compensate for Garnett, who sustained a muscle injury near the right calf and will undergo an MRI today in Boston. While coach Doc Rivers said he is 'not that concerned,' the injury could cost Garnett a few games, or even a few weeks, given the cautious nature of the organization regarding injuries."
  • Kate Fagen of The Philadelphia Inquirer says things are good in Philly right now: "The 76ers' locker room hasn't been this happy in years. After Wednesday night's 123-110 run-and-gun win over the Phoenix Suns, there was laughter, jokes, and even a visit from musician John Mayer and actor B.J. Novak of NBC's The Office . Wednesday's win was about as unexpected as they come - not necessarily the victory itself, but the way the Sixers pulled it off. They outscored the scoring-happy Suns. Who'd have figured that? The Sixers, without Andre Iguodala, improved to 13-19. The Suns, led by Steve Nash with 23 points and 15 assists, dropped to 13-17."
  • It's not looking like the Bobcats will be changing their name, says Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "As much as some of you would prefer a name change from the Bobcats, that isn't a widespread concern, based on the team's recent market research. Pete Guelli, who heads the Bobcats' marketing, told me the team's recent market study showed no groundswell for a name change."
Posted on: December 30, 2010 12:54 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:54 pm
 

Tyreke Evans' 50 foot game-winning buzzer beater

Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans hit a halfcourt shot at the buzzer to beat the Memphis Grizzlies. Posted by Ben Golliver A game between the lowly Sacramento Kings and the mediocre Memphis Grizzlies isn't exactly a high-profile match-up, but Kings guard Tyreke Evans provided a Hollywood finish in Northern California on Wednesday night, burying a game-winning buzzer beater from behind half court.  With the Kings leading 97-96, the Memphis Grizzlies inbounded the ball in the frontcourt. Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo hit a fallaway jumper from 20 feet over Evans, to put the Grizzlies up, 98-97.  With 1.5 seconds left on the clock, Kings center DeMarcus Cousins then inbounded the ball to Evans. Standing near the free throw line, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year took one dribble and gather the ball at his waist, releasing his shot attempt from just behind halfcourt. The shot went in cleanly on the fly, nothing but net, and the Kings bench and Arco Arena crowd immediately erupted in joy. Evans and his teammates jumped up on the scorer's table briefly to celebrate, and he was mobbed by well-wishers on the court. A review of the play confirmed that Evans released the ball before time expired, giving the Kings an improbable 100-98 last-second victory. Here's the video. To make this shot even more remarkable, Evans has been battling foot pain for some time, and said earlier this week that he was considering a laser procedure to relieve the pain. The procedure could potentially sideline him for months. With the win, the Kings improve to 6-23. The Grizzlies fall to 14-18.
Posted on: December 29, 2010 5:32 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:53 pm
 

LeBron James offends Harris with contraction talk

Miami Heat forward LeBron James made comments concerning contraction and New Jersey Nets point guard Devin Harris, and Harris is reportedlydevin-harris"offended." Posted by Ben Golliver Last week, Miami Heat forward LeBron James really stepped in it, advocating for the contraction of NBA teams to achieve a league that more closely resembled the NBA of the 1980s. Clearly, he was misguided. Shortly after making his comments, James tried to back off, but the damage was done. As you might recall, James singled out the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Jersey Nets in his comments, saying, "I’m just looking at some of the teams that are not that great. You take Brook Lopez or you take Devin Harris off teams that are not that good right now and add them to a team that could be really good. I’m not saying let’s take New Jersey, let’s take Minnesota out of the league. But hey, you guys are not stupid. I’m not stupid, but I know what would be great for the league.” Harris, to no one's great surprise, wasn't particularly thrilled about the nature of the comments and the specific mention of the Nets and himself in James' argument for contracting the league. Indeed, NJ.com reports that Harris was "offended" by James' comments.
“For him to talk about us specifically was a little offensive,’’ Harris said after practice, and before the Nets left for Oklahoma City for tonight’s game against the Thunder. “I mean, from a business standpoint ... what’s best, we’re still trying to figure this out. But (James is) in the mind-set of, ‘Let’s just team everybody up with stars and kind of duke it out,’ which, it kind of was like that in previous ages, but who’s to say what’s best for the league.’’
Kudos to Harris for accomplishing a very rare feat in the NBA: standing up to LeBron James publicly. James' comments in general were ridiculous, and the fact that he included specific teams and players pushed them past the "reckless" threshold.  Not that he cares. For more reaction to the idea of contraction from small-market teams, check out Matt Moore's piece with Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Posted on: December 29, 2010 2:31 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:53 pm
 

Timberwolves to pursue O.J. Mayo trade

The Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly considering a push to trade for Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo. Posted by Ben Golliveroj-mayo
CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports that the Minnesota Timberwolves are considering trading for Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo.
CBSSports.com has learned that the Wolves plan to make a push to acquire Memphis guard O.J. Mayo, whose rights they traded to the Grizzlies on draft night in 2008 in the deal that brought Love to Minnesota. Mayo is frustrated coming off the bench in Memphis and "needs a change," according to one person familiar with the situation. The Wolves envision Mayo playing in the backcourt next season alongside Rubio, who according to a person familiar with the situation has given team officials his word that he will join the Wolves next season. The buyout that Minnesota must pay FC Barcelona is down to $1 million, but it's not clear how Rubio's decision could be affected by a lockout. Even if Rubio comes to Minnesota, there's no guarantee he'll thrive immediately.
On the night of the 2008 NBA Draft, the Timberwolves swapped Mayo, who they selected No. 3 overall, to the Memphis Grizzlies for power forward Kevin Love, the No. 5 overall selection as part of a larger 8-player trade . Mayo was one of the most highly-touted high school players of the past decade, but has so far failed to live up to those monstrous expectations as an NBA player. Still, he's a physical, skilled guard who is still on his rookie deal, an intriguing trade target because of his reasonable contract number ($4.5 million this season) and his ability to score and defend two positions in the backcourt.  While Mayo started every game during his first two years in the NBA, he has been used off the bench by the Grizzlies this season. His minutes have taken a big hit -- down from 38 per game in his first two years to 28.8 per game this season -- and his numbers, as you might expect, have dropped across the board. He is averaging 13.1 points, 2.5 assists, 1.8 assists and shooting 42.1% from the field, off his career averages of 17.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 44.4% shooting. To be frank, the Timberwolves need all the help they can get. At 8-24, they sit in last place in the Northwest Division, and own the second worst record in the Western Conference. They rate 21st in offensive efficiency and 29th in defensive efficiency, and they have a gaping hole at two guard. Forward Michael Beasley has added a scoring punch since the Timberwolves traded for him this summer, but it hasn't been enough to compensate for the team's pathetic backcourt. Mayo would theoretically add a much-needed talent infusion over the team's only true off guard, Wayne Ellington. Minnesota doesn't have much talent or much hope this season, but they do have flexibility to take on salary at the deadline, an uncommon commodity in the NBA that has been exploited well by teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder in recent years. The Timberwolves are in the unique position of not having a single contract over $5 million on their books. (Indeed, the Timberwolves are the only team in the NBA not to carry a single contract over $10 million this seaso n, let alone $5 million.) And, since Minnesota is well under the cap, a trade for Mayo could happen in a variety of ways, including a trade that sends back only future draft considerations rather than a player (and his salary). The Timberwolves also have a glut on the wings, including Corey Brewer, Martell Webster and rookie Wesley Johnson, so if they do make a trade deadline deal(s) it wouldn't be surprising to see one of those guys moved. Here's more from Berger on this week's CBSSports.com's NBA Drive . "I'm told, very interestingly, that the Minnesota Timberwolves that have kind of been in stabilization mode in evaluating the roster are going to explore trading for O.J. Mayo," Berger says. "He's a player they drafted originally in 2008 and sent him to Memphis in the trade that sent Kevin Love to Minnesota. That's something they are going to explore. They are in a little bit of a process now evaluating their roster, but that's a move that they have in mind and that they are going to pursue."
Posted on: December 28, 2010 12:46 pm
 

Rudy Gay and Z-Bo talk contraction in Memphis

Stars in small-market Memphis, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph, weigh in on the good and bad of the idea of contraction.
Posted by Matt Moore




While LeBron James is walking back his contraction talk as quickly as possible, other players are weighing in on the issues at play. In Memphis, the issue of contraction will likely involve the Grizzlies at every turn. A small market team with poor attendance and fewer than 30 wins in five of their nine seasons, the Grizzlies are at the top of every contraction advocate's list for elimination. 

James' main point was about the possibility of great teams, where you'd have stacked rosters like there were in the 80's. (Even though they weren't that stacked in the 80's.) On such teams, Rudy Gay may not be the leader and star he's becoming in Memphis (20.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals), he'd be a role player. Gay's very clear in his support of Memphis,but says that it may be the best thing for the league to think about cutting the number of teams in order to create those teams. 

"Yes and no. If I was speaking like I was with the NBA, I'd say yes," Gay told CBSSports.com Monday night. Of course, with more guys, more power teams, there's more focus on those teams, rather than the Indiana Pacers or New Jersey Nets."

At the same time, Gay feels like the great players in this league who already go unnoticed next to the biggest names the league markets would suffer if they were all crammed on teams fighting for top billing. 

"I say no, for us as players. It's kind of tough when the NBA is focused on one team (the Miami Heat) like it has been this year. This league has a lot of great players, like Joe Johnson, Derrick Rose, and even Kevin Durant's not even getting that much attention. Even Caron Butler, who plays next to Dirk Nowitzki. Even myself, O.J. Mayo, Zach Randolph, it's hard when they have power teams that have so much focus, it's hard for us players. But we'll keep on proving it and eventually these guys will get noticed. "

Gay says he's unconcerned with where he plays, though. The market politics of the NBA don't interest him.

"To me it's basketball. I'd do this no matter where I was."

Zach Randolph has been around this league in big and small markets. He's played in New York, Los Angeles, Portland, and now Memphis. So his viewpoint is a little different, and for one, he comes down firmly on the side of fans of teams like the Grizzlies.

"This is a good team, and this is a good city. Even though our fan attendance hasn't been where we want it to be, I think we can get it back up. It's a good basketball city. It's up and down. There are negatives and positives for guys teaming up like they did back then or even how they are now. But I think you need to keep cities like this."

So while James may think it's great for everyone to be in his position, with constant media attention on a team that's stacked with great players at all five spots like Joel Anthony and Carlos Arroyo, not everyone is sold that teams like Memphis need the ax just so there can be "stacked" teams.

Check back Thursday for our feature on Rudy Gay on CBSSports.com.
Posted on: December 22, 2010 6:50 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2010 8:03 pm
 

Lionel Hollins tells some kids to shut the F up

Posted by Royce Young

Strange days in Memphis right now. So strange in fact that the Grizzlies head coach, Lionel Hollins, took to yelling at some fans during last night's game.

Via Chris Vernon's Twitter, Hollins apparently told a group of 17-year-olds to "shut the f*** up" after the kids made a bunch of noise about putting Zach Randolph back in the game for Hasheem Thabeet. Yep, Hollins evidently freaked out over a pefectly logical demand from some fans that obviously should be the ones coaching the Grizzlies.

Hollins said that it was a bunch of "drunk unruly fans" yelling at him after the game and that he told them to pipe down, but apparently, he was a little off. But in Hollins' defense, sometimes it is a little difficult to tell the difference between drunk loud-mouths and 17-year-olds.

The bad news for Memphis is, these were season ticket holders since the Grizzlies moved to Memphis. They have six (six!) season tickets and even plan family vacations around road games. So yeah, I'm thinking the organization isn't going to be psyched about this whole thing.

Vernon says that the Grizzlies had a representative go over to the kids and ask for the phone numbers so the Grizz could send some gear and tickets to them because they felt bad about Hollins' reaction.

General manager Chris Wallace has a weekly radio program and the dad of the kids that Hollins yelled at called in to ask about the situation. The dad, who isn't holding grudges, said he's not mad at the Grizzlies and just said that Hollins needs to be more professional. Um, duh dad.

Realistically, it's unlikely the Grizzlies punish Hollins publicly for this situation, but I'm sure owner Michael Heisley called him into the principle's office to talk about it. Memphis is struggling to bring fans to games and here is the coach yelling at the children of a season ticket holder that doesn't hold two seats, but six. I'm thinking that's not something ownership is going to be psyched about.
Category: NBA
Posted on: December 21, 2010 6:46 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:45 pm
 

Grizzlies don't regret drafting Hasheem Thabeet

The Memphis Grizzlies stand behind their selection of center Hasheem Thabeet in the 2009 NBA Draft. Posted by Ben Golliverhasheem-thabeet It's rare that a man as big as Memphis Grizzlies center Hasheem Thabeet, who stands 7-foot-3, can be so invisible. But in his second NBA season, he's an after-after-thought, barely seeing the court and adding little value during another frustrating season for Memphis. If anyone cared about Thabeet, there would probably be a lot more "bust" talk bubbling, but to this point indifference has ruled the day. As such, Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace did the smart thing Tuesday, standing by his center when asked by NBA Fanhouse whether he would reconsider the team's 2009 draft selection.
"I'm not a regrets guy,'' Wallace said. "I don't think he should be put in a dead-letter file. That's extremely premature for that.''
Thabeet, who is averaging 1.4 points and 1.3 rebounds a game, sounds like he is at a loss for why he's not very good, and it sort of makes you feel bad for him. 
"It's really difficult,'' Thabeet said about living up to expectations of being the No. 2 pick. "I'm here working out. The team knows where they are with me. I'm just doing my job. I don't really have an explanation about the question I get every day. I put myself in this situation so I got to deal with it. But to be part (of the NBA) is special, and I'm happy to be here.''
I can't say I'm a huge Thabeet fan, and it would be surprising if he develops into a productive player. But while he certainly wasn't a good pick, it's difficult to kill the Grizzlies for making it.  Before the draft, Thabeet was clearly high risk / high reward, the exact type of player a middling franchise like Memphis should take a risk on, especially considering the pieces they had in place. With young, developing guards like Mike Conley and OJ Mayo already in the pipeline, plus wing Rudy Gay fully established, addressing the frontcourt was even more important for Memphis than it usually is for lottery teams. Going down the list of players taken in the lottery behind Thabeet, the best players -- Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, and Tyreke Evans -- each would likely have required Memphis to make a decision between him or Conley in the short-term. The best case scenario probably would have been to draft Evans and play him at the two guard spot, shifting Mayo immediately into a reserve role. That would have been a delicate situation, but if managed properly would have given Memphis a potent backcourt without too much roster turnover.  Outside of those three point guards, there aren't many impact players in the first round, and no meaningful big man sleepers have emerged. The smart play for Memphis probably would have been to trade down, a possibility that was rumored leading up to draft night, but taking a chance on Thabeet wasn't franchise-crippling by any means. Back to Wallace's statements: it's still too early for regrets. Thabeet was drafted as a project and his rookie deal ensures that the project can continue (at a reasonable salary for a team with such a small payroll) through 2012-2013 at least, should the Grizzlies remain interested.  Will Thabeet figure it out? Who knows. But Jordan Hill or Tyler Hansbrough, the next two bigs drafted, aren't leading teams to the title any time soon either.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com