Would like to do a preview for tonight's game but don't have time on a paper-production Monday, so some quick takes on Griz issues du jour:
Rudy's Extension: The Grizzlies and Rudy Gay have until midnight tonight to agree to a contract extension and have made some progress according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:
Gay, a 6-foot-9 forward, has been seeking an extension comparable to the five-year, $60 million deal the Indiana Pacers gave Danny Granger(notes) last year. Memphis has offered $50 million over five years in recent days, sources said, but will still need to close the gap before the NBA’s deadline on Monday.
One league source says a shorter contract — three years for $33 million-$36 million — has also been discussed with Gay’s reps from Octagon.
My take: If the Grizzlies are offering 5 years and $50 million, Gay should snatch it up. I think that's a little too rich for what he's proven. Anything beyond that is silly. I like Gay, but he needs to upgrade his defense and integrate his offense into the team context a little better before he'll be worth a contract averaging eight figures per year.
Last Night: There comes a point in every team's development when moral victories no longer apply, but I don't think this Griz squad is quite there yet, so I got good vibes from last night's 133-123 loss at Denver, a shootout in which the Grizzlies hung with a better, more veteran team in a hostile environment until near the end. Apparently there weren't good vibes on the bench, however, as Ron Tillery reported today of a blow-up between Gay and O.J. Mayo during a fourth quarter timeout, apparently about the team's inability to get a defensive stop and apparently directed at Gay. Carmelo Anthony scored 42 in the game, much of it against Gay. Anthony has been torching everyone to start this season, but Gay's defensive lapses were many and clear from the telecast. With this team adding more scoring, Gay's value to the team is even more tied to him becoming a better defender.
Tonight: Allen Iverson will debut, presumably off the bench, though who knows how much longer he'll stay there. The Grizzlies' offense has been terrific the past two games, so it'll be interesting to see if Iverson adds more firepower or disrupts the chemistry. Another subplot tonight that should be just as big of a story: The potential on-court meeting of Hamed Haddadi (the league's first Iranian player) and Omri Casspi (the league's first Israeli), representatives from two countries that do not have a diplomatic relationship, to say the least. A nice piece about this on NBA Fan House.
The New Marc Gasol: Through three games, the slimmed-down Gasol as been terrific. He's averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds on an astounding 73% shooting and is currently fifth in the league in PER, John Hollinger's "total" stat. Last night in the first half, when Gasol rumbled down the middle of the lane and threw down a two-hand jam, it was a rewindable DVR moment at my Griz watch party. We'd never seen him get off the floor like that before. You could temper excitement over Gasol's first two games due to the weak defensive frontlines of Detroit and Toronto, but Denver has a pretty strong frontcourt rotation. The only chinks for Gasol so far: Fouls and turnovers. But he's off to a bravura start.