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Tag:OJ Mayo
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.
Posted on: October 25, 2010 12:33 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:03 pm
 

Memphis owner: fans shouldn't worry about future

Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley tells fans they shouldn't worry about the team's future in Memphis. Posted by Ben Golliveroj-mayo The word of the week in the NBA has been contraction. Once Ken Berger broke the news that reducing the number of teams in the NBA from 30 was an option that will be considered during upcoming rounds of Collective Bargaining between owners and players, the spotlight started shining on the league's struggling franchises, with an apparent gap developing between rich and poor.  Small-market Sacramento Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof came out quickly to state unequivocally that the Kings wouldn't be contracted or sold, while big-market former Los Angeles Lakers co-owner Magic Johnson came out in favor of contraction. Over the weekend, another small-market owner, Michael Heisley of the Memphis Grizzlies, was interviewed by Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal about the future of the Grizzlies, who are celebrating their 10th anniversary season in Memphis but are struggling to fill their stadium. Calkins asks Heisley whether the Grizzles can survive another 10 years.
"I don't know if I'll make it to a 20th year!" he says.
Heisley laughs. Even at 4 a.m., the man has a point. Who knows what will happen over the course of the next decade? Who knows if the Grizzlies will still be here in 2020? Who knows if Heisley -- now 77 -- will even be around to own the team? "I don't think it's something for people to worry about," Heisley says.
Making promises you can't keep is a cardinal sin for a professional sports team owner, so Heisley plays this one correctly, re-assuring the team's fans without committing to something he can't certainly deliver.  Calkins goes on to paint a morbid picture -- a half-empty FedEx Forum, talk of relocation at the team's 10th birthday party -- but he also points out that the team's arena deal and the depressed national economic state work against a Grizzlies relocation plan. The Grizzlies almost always make the short list for teams that might be contracted, given their attendance, struggles to make the post-season, and the fact that the team is in Memphis after relocating from Vancouver, in probably the best case of an expansion going wrong for the NBA.  One thing's for sure: no team that has been included in the contraction discussion has more talent than the Grizzlies. Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, OJ Mayo, Mike Conley and Hasheem Thabeet would make for one heck of a dispersal draft.  Thanks to Heisley, however, that fantasy doesn't sound like it's in play any time soon.
 
 
 
 
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