Archive for the ‘Memphis Grizzlies’ Category

Join me as I count down my predictions of the regular season finishes for the 2012-13 NBA season, at a rate of three teams per day. Tell me why I’m wrong in the comments.

15. New Orleans Hornets
No, I didn’t forget about the Hornets. Yes, I’m predicting that they’ll go from last place in the Western Conference last season to the eighth seed this season. No, I don’t think Anthony Davis is going to carry them to the playoffs single-handedly. Yes, I’m aware that Al-Farouq Aminu might be the worst starting small forward in the league. Any more questions?

The reason I’m so bullish on the 2012-13 Hornets is that the three best players on this roster (Davis, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson) played a combined nine games for last year’s squad — and I believe that two of them merit consideration among the top 25 players in the league. Obviously, I’m predicting that Davis will be a dominant defensive force right out of the gate for the Hornets, and his frontcourt pairing with Robin Lopez — who is a much better defender than his brother — should help elevate the Hornets’ team defense into the top 10 this season. But where the Hornets really needed help last season was on offense, as indicated by their 28th-ranked Offensive Rating.

That’s where Gordon and Anderson come in. Anderson’s three-point shooting prowess is well-known by fantasy hoopsters like myself who scooped him up with a mid-round pick last year — he led the NBA in three-pointers made while sinking over 39 percent of those shots. As for Gordon, it remains to be seen whether his recovery from knee surgery and his conditioning will enable him to be ready to play when the regular season commences, but his value to the team was shown last season by the fact that the Hornets had a 6-3 record in his nine games.

14. Philadelphia 76ers
If there’s a city that could embrace a gifted athlete who happens to be an unmitigated asshole, it’s The City of Brotherly Love. When he’s not nursing an injury, cheap-shotting an opponent half his size or parking his Bimmer in a handicapped spot, Andrew Bynum is a top-two center who could potentially average 24 and 12 as the main option on an NBA team.

As with Eric Gordon, the health of Bynum’s knees and his conditioning are question marks going into this season. What shouldn’t be in question is his status as a legitimate franchise player. The loss of Andre Iguodala will hurt the Sixers on the defensive end, where they’re unlikely to match their third-ranked Defensive Rating from last season. Offensively, they should receive a huge boost from Bynum’s offensive rebounding and his ability to score a lot of points at a high level of efficiency. If he can be on the court for most of Philly’s games this season, handle the spotlight of being the team’s main star, and stop being such a flake all the time, Bynum could be a dominant force in the Eastern Conference.

Elsewhere on the roster, Jrue Holiday appears poised for a breakout year, Evan Turner’s solid all-around game is gradually improving, Thaddeus Young is a dark horse for sixth man of the year candidate, Jason Richardson is still a valuable long range weapon and Nick Young is, well… he’s Nick Young. (I’m not a fan.) Ultimately, this team will go as far as Bynum carries it.

13. Memphis Grizzlies
As I write this Grizzlies preview, I’m trying not to feel like a gigantic failure due to the fact that the team’s new majority owner, Robert Pera, is younger than I am. Pera reached an agreement with local investors in August that should keep the team in Memphis for at least another 15 years, which is nice. On the court, the Grizzlies boast both talent and depth in their frontcourt, especially if Darrell Arthur makes a successful return from a stress fracture in his leg by November. Zach Randolph isn’t a guaranteed 20 and 10 anymore, but he and Marc Gasol still make up one of the most potent frontcourt duos in the league.

The Grizzlies succeed primarily on their aggressive, swarming style of defense that frustrates ballhandlers and leads to a bunch of turnovers. Mike Conley, Tony Allen and Rudy Gay each averaged at least 1.5 steals per game last season as the Grizzlies joined the Heat as the only teams with three such players. Their weakness could be their outside shooting, since they finished 26th in three-point percentage last season and they lost their second-best three-point shooter when O.J. Mayo signed with the Mavericks. Still, they remain a competitive team that seems to be able to kick it up a notch in the playoffs.

Previously in the countdown: 30-28 | 27-25 | 24-22 | 21-19 | 18-16

Brothers playing against each other in the NBA is no big deal these days, what with there being like 90,000 pairs in the history of the league. And if you think about it, it makes sense. Brothers share a lot of the same DNA, so if one brother is tall and athletic then it’s only logical that a player’s brother would occasionally also be tall and athletic. It doesn’t happen for every single brother in the NBA, but it happens enough that you can be like, “Must run in the family” and not feel like a total jerk.

But even though there have been a bunch of siblings in the league, very few of those siblings are Tony Allen, which is what makes the fact that he played against his younger brother, Ryan, in a preseason game last night pretty great. From ESPN:

When Tony spoke to Ryan on the floor during the game, it was the first time they talked in a few days. Tony said prior to the game he was treating Ryan like a regular NBA foe and hadn’t talked to him even though Tony got into Chicago the day before.

“I treat him like a rival,” Tony said. “I don’t want to talk to him before no game. I’m not in talking to anyone before a game, not even my brother.”

Ryan said, “I was trying to call him. He wouldn’t answer. What is up? I wasn’t surprised he did that.”

Of course Tony Allen wouldn’t want to talk to his own flesh and blood before a preseason game. He’s got important things to do before playing basketball, like get a sparkly bear carved in to his head. He can’t be bothered to waste time conversing with the enemy when he needs to concentrate really hard on the seven minutes of absolutely pointless basketball he will play later that night. That’s why his brother wasn’t surprised he couldn’t even get a hello. He knows what’s up.

The bad thing, however, is that Tony Allen might have wasted his chance for some good family bonding time. As a Bulls training camp invite, things don’t look so great for Ryan, as Chicago has needlessly hard-capped themselves and will have real trouble adding any players whatsoever during the early part of the season. That’s not to say he won’t catch on somewhere else, but the brothers Allen reuniting in their hometown in front of their ecstatically proud mom for a second time just doesn’t seem likely. No big deal, except Tony just spent their first time playing against each other in the NBA not talking to his brother. And it was a preseason game. Pretty cold-blooded by Mr. Grit and Grind.

But you probably wouldn’t expect anything less from Tony Allen. Ryan didn’t touch the ball with Tony on him, but if he did, I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see Tony in his shorts, jawing at him and doing anything possible to keep him from scoring. Not just because he’s one of the best defenders in the NBA, mind you, but because there’s no way a big brother would let a little one get the best of him.

HAPPY
Ricky Rubio running like he’s never run before, whilst recovering from a serious knee injury. Ricky’s a good-natured fellow, but I’m not sure anyone’s nature has ever been this good. Look at that grin. So happy.

SAD
Awwwww, Jerome Jordan and Jarrid Famous (ironic) at Media Day, being very lonely while no one wants to talk to them. Here they are, dressed in tank tops and shorts in an air conditioned room to be introduced as Grizzlies, but all the camera crews just want to talk to whoever is in the corner. Even worse Red Polo Shirt Guy has to go and lean on Jordan’s table since he’s running out of room to get close to who he really wants to talk to. Quite the insult.

The NBA is a very emotional place, filled with highs and lows. What goes up, must come down. Happy and sad. Be nice to each other.

I don’t know if I’ve ever really put this out there, but I’m a huge Justin Timberlake fan. I’ve seen him in concert twice and NSYNC once. I bought both of his records the day they dropped. I saw “Friends with Benefits” in the theater on purpose. Once, when I was in high school, I signed an autograph as Timberlake in the food court of the Fox Valley Mall because my hair looked like this, which is just enough to fool some stupid 8-year-old girl who is probably reading this right now and learning that her most prized possession is a complete fake. I should maybe be ashamed to admit any of this but I’m not. At all.

All of which is to say, this crossover is very relevant to my interests. From ESPN:

Robert Pera, prospective new owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, has recruited a famous Memphian to be part of his ownership group: Justin Timberlake.

Sources with knowledge of the arrangement said Thursday that Timberlake, one of the NBA’s most prominent celebrity fans and a Memphis native, has committed to joining Pera’s team of minority partners as the sale of the franchise from Michael Heisley to the 34-year-old technology magnate nears completion.

Sources told ESPN.com that Timberlake and Pera have quickly struck up a friendship, with one source adding that the singer/actor is making “a meaningful investment into the team” and “plans to be active” with the Grizzlies. The league office, sources said, has been made aware of Timberlake’s proposed involvement and is already well acquainted with him after inviting the self-proclaimed basketball junkie to participate in various celebrity games at All-Star Weekend.

Hopefully the sale goes through. And hopefully this leads to a wholesale re-imagining of the Grizzlies franchise, just like what has happened with Jay-Z and the Nets.

In a world that is perfectly in sync (nailed it) with my vision, upon Justin Timberlake assuming ownership, the Grizzlies would become an immensely entertaining and successful team, while also enjoying a surprising amount of critical success for their grownup approach to team building. The stands would be filled with shirts that say “Like I Love My Grizzlies” and when the team defeated their rivals, the Britney Spears-owned New Orleans Hornets, “Cry Me a River” signs would permeate the crowd. Then, just when you thought they’d reached their peak, they’d kick things in to overdrive and become a sophisticated, innovative franchise that’s widely hailed as the most exciting and best basketball team in the league. They’d get new uniforms, which would land them on GQ’s list of best dressed teams. An astounding number of beautiful starlets in their respective primes would instantly become Grizzlies fans. The players would even get away with wearing fedoras kind of too much. It would be boom times for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Unfortunately, this is when the Grizzlies would suddenly abandon what made them so popular and start requesting to play Saturday night games all the time. Then, instead of devoting themselves to sound basketball decisions and expanding on their previous successes, they’d start making viral videos. Exclusively. People would be OK with it for a while, because they’d actually be surprisingly not terrible, but when it became obvious that the team wasn’t really interested in being the biggest and best basketball team any more, fans would kind of be confused while simultaneously holding out hope that they’d return to that basketball mindset. Fans would treat every bit of Grizzlies-returning-to-basketball news with a sense of “This is it!” wonder, even though they’re extremely skeptical that it could be true. Sometimes, just for fun, they’d put on Grizzlies championship DVDs, just to remember the good times. It’d still be fun to be a Grizzlies fan, but it’d be different.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, everything is just rumors and speculation. Nonetheless, I’m very excited that in the near futuresex/lovesounds (nailed it again) there could realistically be NBA teams that are owned by Michael Jordan, Jay-Z, Will Smith and Justin Timberlake. If we can just figure out a way for Vin Diesel to get a piece of the Pistons, the most logical fit for the star of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, things will be perfect.

Gotta go. Moving to Memphis real quick so my future children can grow up learning basketball from Tony Allen.

Please forward my jean shorts.

(via Hangtime)

Brian Cardinal

With all the ridiculous contracts that get thrown around every NBA offseason, fans are perennially left scratching their heads at the logic behind the dollar amounts handed out to role players. As crazy as some of this offseason’s free agent signings have seemed, I would argue that none of them match up to the madness of the six-year, $34 million deal that Brian Cardinal (a.k.a. “Your Dad“) landed in July 2004.

In his fourth NBA season — after having played a grand total of 184 minutes over his previous three seasons — Cardinal “blew up” and averaged 9.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists over 21 minutes while shooting 47 percent from the field and 44 percent from long range. His previous track record probably led most GMs to believe that Cardinal’s season was a bit of a fluke. But when the Memphis Grizzlies gave him a six-year deal at the full mid-range level, it appeared that then-GM Jerry West must have thought your dad was the real deal.

Today, I stumbled upon this excerpt from a Mark Monteith article in the Indianapolis Star (the story doesn’t appear to be on the Star’s website anymore, but it’s quoted on at least two different sites) that, if true, might be the funniest story ever behind an absurd NBA contract.

An exceptionally well-connected league insider once told me the story of how Brian Cardinal got his mid-level. Seems Memphis owner Michael Heisley, frustrated by general manager Jerry West’s lack of activity, walked into West’s office one day and asked why he hadn’t signed anyone yet. So an exasperated West picked up his phone, called Cardinal’s agent and offered the mid-level on the spot. Then he turned to Heisley and said something along the lines of “There, you happy now?”

Jerry West, everyone! In the history of rash decisions made to appease nagging bosses, that one has to rank right up there. We may never know if this story is true, but I really hope it is. Regardless, that contract helped pay for that boat your dad loves so much, so let’s all be happy for him.

When you are a millionaire basketball player — and yes, even Jon Brockman is a millionaire — you have to find new things to do to occupy your time once the season is over. You can’t work out all the time, unless you want your legs to explode. Sometimes you have to other things like wear a fitted, one-piece sweatsuit that’s called a Swagga Suit or drive a tiny go-kart around like it’s no big deal.

These are just a few different ways that NBA players can relax during the offseason. Driving a go-kart is a fun way to blow off steam and wearing a University of Washington branded Swagga Suit is just a great way to get cozy and settle down with a nice book. We all have different ways of chillin’ and these are some that you could maybe incorporate in to your life. Maybe combine the Swagga Suit with the go-kart and really live it up. It’s your life.

A few more shots of Jon Brockman modeling the Swagga Suit after the jump because they will make you so happy.

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