Sports 56 WHBlog Q

January 12, 2009

The Miscellany, Vol. 3 (Grizzlies edition)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Peter Edmiston @ 11:07 am

I love the fact that the Grizzlies signed Darius Miles to a ten-day contract after Portland’s email threats…I love it. And I’m not too sure they would have done it were it not for Portland’s posturing.  I have no idea whether or not the Grizzlies will play him the required two additional games to activate his contract on Portland’s books – you would assume they would, but apparently the decision is Marc Iavaroni’s alone to make – but I love the idea of sticking it to a panicked Blazers front office. Portland made this bed initially by signing a head case like Miles to just an exorbitant contract all those years ago. When you make decisions like that, it comes back to haunt you. The Blazers had almost forgotten about all their dumbass contracts and horrible character guys from a few seasons ago, but Miles is a little reminder of their stupidity.

I have advocated from the start that the Grizzlies need to play Miles SOLELY to screw Portland’s cap situation. Any time you can get a competitive advantage legally on or off the court, you take it. This deal would take Portland’s available cap space this summer from 16.5 million dollars to 7.5 million dollars. If that costs them a great free agent to go along with their solid young roster, good. The Grizzlies need all the help they can get. You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs. It’s unfortunate for Portland, but it’s just business.  No need to get all hot under the collar about it.

That brings us to Mike Conley – who was long rumored to be heading back to Portland in a reunion with college teammate Greg Oden.  That seems unlikely now that the Griz signed Darius Miles.  Not sure if Portland will take Chris Wallace’s calls now.  Doubt it.  The newest Conley trade possibility, as reported by my morning partner Ron Tillery in the Commercial Appeal (which, frankly, you should buy to help Ron pay for his son’s college fund), is Mike Conley to Milwaukee for Ramon Sessions and Joe Alexander.  Sessions is an upgrade right now over Conley – he had a stellar first month of the season, but has seen his minutes decline since then due to the emergence of Luke Ridnour.  Sessions is also due to be a restricted free agent along with Charlie Villanueva, and the Bucks cannot afford to resign them both (read more here).  Joe Alexander has been a bust so far – he’s not getting any time and not impressing too many folks in Milwaukee.  On the surface, I like the deal for the Grizzlies quite a bit.  Sessions can play.  He’s 6′ 3”, is a pretty good defender and scorer, and has shown productivity when he gets minutes.  But would you resign him at the end of the season?  Would you match if a team offered 5-6 million per season?  Would you take a chunk out of your sizable cap room for Ramon Sessions, and would that really excite the fans?  It’s hard to envision the Grizzlies paying that much for Sessions.  So it’s not as obvious a decision as it would appear.  Alexander isn’t much yet, but he is athletic as hell and could improve.

The one thing we can all agree on is that under the current system, with this coaching staff and with his skillset, Mike Conley is not going to be productive in Memphis.  Whether the coach needs to change or Conley needs to move, something has to happen.  If things remain as-is, Conley will be a failure.

Speaking of which, the Mike Heisley evaluation of Marc Iavaroni is still ongoing.  Heisley said such evaluation would wait until January, and here we are.  It can’t be comforting to Iavaroni to see his team playing some of the most uninspired basketball of the year at this time.  The last three games (MIN, @NJN, @TOR) have been pretty terrible, effort-wise, and the Grizzlies have managed the remarkable feat of leading only 1:35 of the last 144 game minutes.  The Grizzlies still don’t have a distinctive “Iavaroni style” after more than 100 games under his leadership.  There is still an iron-fisted grip on the pace and playcalling in any given game.  He’s just not doing much to inspire belief in his coaching and confidence in his long-term prospects.  He was hired in the wake of the Mike D’Antoni love that spread throughout the league as the Suns dominated offensively.  Iavaroni was on the bench as Nash, Stoudemire, Marion, Johnson, Diaw, et al ran roughshod over the league.  People expected that style here – and they have been hugely disappointed.  He’s a lot like Mike – Mike Fratello, that is.  And we saw what happened to him.


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