Saturday, March 12, 2016

Grizzlies Injury Update: Conley out, McCallum and Stepheson in

Posted By on Sat, Mar 12, 2016 at 3:40 PM


The Grizzlies have made two announcements today, one concerning injuries and one concerning the players brought in to mitigate them.

First up the bad news concerning Mike Conley and Chris Andersen, straight from the press release:

Conley has missed the last three games with left foot soreness and received an additional examination yesterday, which showed Achilles tendonitis. He will remain out and will be re-evaluated in 3 to 4 weeks.

Andersen experienced a left shoulder subluxation and left the game on March 6 vs. Phoenix with 7:59 remaining in the second quarter. Additional examination and an MRI confirmed the injury. He will be listed as out and will continue to be re-evaluated.

Three to four weeks puts Conley out for most of the remainder of the regular season, and that 3-4 weeks is just when he's going to be re-evaluated, at which point who knows whether he'll be ready to return or not. With Achilles tendonitis, the longer you can stay off of it, the better, so my bet would be that he won't be back until the playoffs, if then. Vince Carter was listed as "questionable" earlier (he left last night's game with a leg injury) and I haven't yet heard any updates on his condition.

The good news is that the Grizzlies were granted a hardship exception, allowing them to carry more than 15 players on the roster. As a result, they've signed Ray McCallum and Alex Stepheson to 10-day contracts. McCallum played for the Spurs in 31 games this season, and was pretty good, and Stepheson was on the camp roster this year, and has logged some time in Iowa, where averaged almost 16 points a game.

Will they be able to keep winning this way? Who knows. But at least they'll have enough players in uniform to avoid forfeiting—although at this point, that might not be the worst thing, considering how quickly the injuries are piling up.

McCallum and Stepheson are expected to be in uniform tonight.

Grizzlies 121, Pelicans 114: Quick Thoughts

Posted By on Sat, Mar 12, 2016 at 7:04 AM

  • Larry Kuzniewski

The Goon Squad was fun, but in the wake of another flood of injuries it has transformed into something else entirely: The Suicide Squad. I'll let the Wikipedia entry for the comic book series do the talking:

The modern Suicide Squad is an antihero "strike team" of incarcerated, death row supervillains. Acting as deniable, covert assets of the United States government, it undertakes high-risk, black-ops missions in exchange for commuted prison sentences.

Vince Carter left the game with an injury and didn't return. - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Vince Carter left the game with an injury and didn't return.

The Goon Squad was a result of adding PJ Hairston, Lance Stephenson, and Chris Andersen (and removing Jeff Green and Courtney Lee) from a team that already featured Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, Matt Barnes, and Mario Chalmers. When you take away Randolph, take away Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, take away Brandan Wright, and take away Chalmers (and replace him with Briante Weber, from the D-League, thrown into a 40-minute starting appearance on the first game of his 10-day contract), and "strike team of death row supervillains" starts to fit like a glove.

About that "death row" thing. Tonight, on paper, wasn't supposed to be fun. The Pelicans aren't great, and they're one of the only other teams with as many injuries as the Grizzlies have, but they've given the Griz fits for years—Anthony Davis just causes problems for the way the Grizzlies play basketball. But tonight, without any of the usual players for whom the Pelicans are a problem, the eight Grizzlies who played all night went out, played hard, and got it done.

Vince Carter left before halftime and didn't come back. He's got a leg injury. The Grizzlies are dropping like flies, and now they're 2-1 in this stretch of games with fewer than 10 active players, and both wins have been gutty, all-effort, exhausting affairs, and the loss came at Boston after watching Chalmers go down for the season, and then having to defend ("defend" to the extent possible, anyway) Isaiah Thomas without any more point guards on the team.

Briante Weber started and played almost 40 minutes in his NBA debut. - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Briante Weber started and played almost 40 minutes in his NBA debut.

Weber was good tonight. He was nervous at first, and not sure what to do with the real size and speed of the NBA—Anthony Davis was able to jump some of his passes early on. But he adjusted, and adapted, and never played scared—in the postgame presser Dave Joerger pointed out that the few times he got forced into over-dribbling, he was mostly erring on the side of not making a mistake and turning the ball over. In 39 minutes, he finished with 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, a steal, a block, and only two turnovers. Not bad. My suspicion is that Weber will at least get a second 10-day; We still don't know if/when Conley is returning, and Tony Allen, Matt Barnes, and Lance Stephenson can't play point guard by committee for every game that's left.

Lance Stephenson set a new career scoring mark wtih 33 points. - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Lance Stephenson set a new career scoring mark wtih 33 points.

JaMychal Green had another career scoring high tonight (20 points) and played excellently. Jarell Martin played well, too, and made a really athletic play to block an inbounds pass and save the game for the Grizzlies at the end of regulation. Tony Allen was (predictably) good on defense and showed up in some key spots on offense. Matt Barnes didn't have a great shooting night overall, but finished 4 of 8 from 3-point range, and his calming influence on the rest of the team down the stretch was a definite factor in the Grizzlies' ability to hang on in regulation. (Wonder how many times Matt Barnes has been called a "calming influence"?)

We know what we're going to get from this group from here on out: effort. Confusion about the plays, weird turnovers, and missed layups, sure, but effort. Whether that's enough to carry them to maintain their current seed, and carry them into the first round of the playoffs without getting blown out and swept, we'll see, but for you, it's hard not to root for a team missing 4 of its 5 best players, and who knows how many of its best 10. (Although certainly JaMychal Green is climbing those rankings, and rookie Martin is starting to look like he's worth the draft pick he was or wasn't promised depending on who you ask.)

That's what was so exciting on Friday night: a team of guys with no real reason to expect to win a basketball game doing everything they could to do just that. Whether they have anything left in the tank Saturday night at Atlanta (hint: probably not unless they're all already asleep on the team plane as I write this, resting up) is almost immaterial at this point.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Grizzlies 106, Cavaliers 103: Next Day Notes

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 9:23 AM

Lance Stephenson - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Lance Stephenson

The Grizzlies had eight players in uniform as they rolled into Cleveland on Monday night to take on the defending Eastern Conference champions. Not among those eight players:

  • Mike Conley, out at least 3-5 days with foot soreness.
  • Zach Randolph, resting a sore knee.
  • Matt Barnes, resting a tweaked hamstring.
  • Chris Andersen, out at least 3-5 days with a shoulder injury suffered Sunday against Phoenix.
  • Marc Gasol, out for the rest of the year.
  • Brandan Wright, out for a while with an MCL sprain.
  • Jordan Adams, yet to return from a knee surgery.

So with a starting lineup of Mario Chalmers, PJ Hairston, Tony Allen, JaMychal Green, and Ryan Hollins, and a bench of Vince Carter, Lance Stephenson, and Jarell Martin, the Grizzlies tipped off in Cleveland with no real reason to expect to be able to win, and then proceeded to do exactly that—and not only win, but lead most of the game, get tired, lose the lead, and claw back again to seal it in the final minute.

We've seen this kind of game before, when the under-manned Grizzlies hold their own against a tough opponent, but usually the script goes the other way: the Griz have to play so hard to win against good teams even when they're not missing almost all of their best players; usually they start to run out of steam down the stretch and they first lose the lead and then lose contact with their opponent, falling apart because their legs are dead. Not last night, though. Tony Allen missed eight games, and came back ready to roll. The young bigs—JaMychal Green and Jarell Martin—both played a lot. Mario Chalmers was a warrior. Vince iced the game with free throws late, because—sometimes we forget—he's Vince Carter.

It was a game to be proud of. The Goon Squad Grizzlies are a team of castoffs, players no one else wants thrown together to make the meanest stretch run possible out of expiring contracts. They're the pro basketball version of the Dirty Dozen. And yet last night, their constant swarming of the ball, their refusal to give an inch to a Cavs team who clearly expected them to fold and was bewildered when they didn't, carried them over the best team in the Eastern Conference, when the Grizzlies have spent all year getting clobbered by "elite" teams. I would say maybe they should've had this group of players on the floor back in October, but even I don't believe this group would actually hold it together for 82 games.

It was a glorious thing, last night. After a season of uncertainty—of frustration and of blowout losses and a team that was clearly struggling to find motivation—the last few days have been pretty great, if you pretend they didn't lose to the Suns in Memphis on Sunday afternoon. Friday night against the Jazz, the arena PA went out and Grizzlies fans responded by yelling like it was Game 7 of the Finals. Last night, after more medical updates with re-evaluation timetables, the Grizzlies took 8 guys on the road and beat the Cavs at home, something no other West team has done but the Warriors. They've only lost six home games all year.

Continue reading »

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Goon Squad vs. The Robots; or, Mary D. Martinez's Heart of Darkness

Posted By on Tue, Mar 1, 2016 at 7:51 AM

  • Larry Kuzniewski

Avid tv aficionado. Hipster-friendly food nerd. Devoted beer trailblazer. Student. Alcohol fanatic. Friendly coffee evangelist.

That’s the Twitter bio of one Mary D. Martinez, or @marymartinezd_d. She’s tweeted 32,958 times as of this writing. She’s followed by thirty-six people (or “people”) She follows no one. She’s also not real. That’s a machine-generated bio, similar to the bios of the other 29 team-spam retweet bots that popped up earlier this season. Amin Vafa pointed out the (clearly automated) bios yesterday on Twitter:

Continue reading »

Monday, February 29, 2016

Brandan Wright out indefinitely with MCL sprain

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 1:14 PM

  • Larry Kuzniewski

The Grizzlies' Lost Weekend of a stretch run is getting a little lost-er. The Grizzlies announced today that Brandan Wright is out indefinitely after suffering a sprained MCL in his right knee.

Wright had been back from knee surgery and playing pretty well—though obviously still getting his bearings on the court—when Saturday night against Phoenix, Ronnie Price collided knees with Wright while Wright set a screen. Wright was down on the floor for a while before being helped to the locker room.

Of course, Wright just had surgery on that knee, so it's good that his new injury won't require surgery to repair. If you're looking for positives, it's also good that it was just a freak basketball "that happens sometimes" injury, rather than a non-contact thing, or something that could have been a result of a previous injury. Sometimes guys bang knees. It's one of the hazards of the sport.

What this does to the Grizzlies' rotation is anybody's guess—with Marc Gasol out and three newly-arrived players still working their way into the scheme of things, this is certainly a blow to whatever stability the Grizzlies are staggering towards. Maybe someone will have to be waived to bring back Joerger favorite and team yo-yo Ryan Hollins for more frontcourt help.

At any rate, this is not good news, for Wright (who was just now starting to find his fit with the team after missing most of the season) or for the Grizzlies (who are already without their starting center and best player), who are in Denver playing the Nuggets tonight.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Beyond the Arc Podcast, #45: Gasol Surgery and the Stretch Run

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 9:23 AM


This week on the show, Kevin and Phil talk about:

  • The Grizzlies' announcement that Marc Gasol had successful surgery on his foot and what his recovery might look like.
  • Whether the Grizzlies can make the playoffs without Gasol and without time to integrate their new additions
  • A farewell to Jeff Green, who is a good dude even though we're glad we don't have to watch him anymore.
  • What does Lance Stephenson bring to the Grizzlies?
  • The Grizzlies at the trade deadline—what moves did they make, and why did they work?
  • Is PJ Hairston going to be a legit NBA player? Will he get enough minutes on the Grizzlies for it to matter?
  • Kobe's last game at FedExForum on Wednesday—is Tony Allen going to play and guard him?

The Beyond the Arc podcast is available on iTunes, so you can subscribe there! It'd be great if you could rate and review the show while you're there. You can also find and listen to the show on Stitcher and on PlayerFM.

You can call our Google Voice number and leave us a voicemail, and we might talk about your question on the next show: 234-738-3394

You can download the show here or listen below:

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Grizzlies announce Marc Gasol had successful surgery on foot fracture

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 11:47 AM

  • Larry Kuzniewski

The Grizzlies have announced that Marc Gasol has undergone a successful surgery on his right mid-foot fracture:

Marc Gasol underwent successful surgery on Saturday, Feb. 20 to repair a non-displaced Type II fracture of the navicular bone in his right foot. Although Marc will not return to the court this season, he is expected to make a full recovery. The surgery was performed by foot and ankle specialists Dr. Robert Anderson of OrthoCarolina and Dr. Drew Murphy of Campbell Clinic.

Team sources I talked to explained that they're pretty optimistic about Gasol's recovery from this injury—that as long as he takes the rehab seriously and takes care of himself, it shouldn't have any impact on the length of his career. A Type II fracture without displacement is a much better diagnosis than a Type III fracture, for instance, which means the navicular bone breaks all the way through. These sorts of injuries have afflicted other players who didn't recover successfully from them, to be sure, but the Grizzlies are optimistic that the specifics of Marc's injury mean he has a much higher likelihood of recovery than others.

It's still a serious injury, and Gasol's recovery will have to be taken just as seriously to make sure it doesn't turn into some sort of inexorable slide into perpetual foot injuries. Clearly Gasol is out for the year, and my assumption would be that he isn't playing for Spain in this summer's Olympics, either, though that's still just an assumption on my part. It sounds like their goal for a return is training camp, but clearly that's not set in stone, and if he's not ready by then, it's in everyone's best interests to wait as long as it takes.

On the court this season, how does it matter? In a way, this isn't the worst thing that could happen for this season—as we've seen from the first two games of the Goon Squad era so far, playing without pressure but with a chip on their collective shoulder has always been good for these Grizzlies. Either way, we now have official confirmation that Gasol won't be re-joining them until after this season is over, and that Gasol has a long road of rehab and recovery ahead of him before he gets back in a Grizzlies uniform.

You can read the full Grizzlies release—including a quote from Gasol—here at

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Visit from the Goon Squad: Two Games with the New-Look Grizzlies

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 9:55 AM

  • Larry Kuzniewski

At the trade deadline, the Grizzlies made a bet that they could move players on expiring contracts who were unlikely to be re-signed this summer—namely Courtney Lee and Jeff Green—in exchange for draft picks and other players on expiring deals and still make the postseason, even without an injured Marc Gasol. In doing so, they assembled a team with even more castoffs from other franchises, even more guys with a reputation for being tough while also being a little bit nuts, and upgraded themselves from "The Island of Misfit Toys" to something you'd expect to run into on a stoop about halfway through The Warriors.

They've only played two games so far with this new lineup, featuring a returned-from-injury Brandan Wright and the newly-acquired Lance Stephenson, PJ Hairston, and Chris "Birdman" Andersen. It's too early to make any sort of judgment about how successful these moves will be (in the short term, anyway—long term the collection of one first and four second round picks for no additional salary beyond this season is an unqualified success), but here are some early observations about this group, followed by a little bit of premature prognostication:

The Good

★ Lance Stephenson's shot creation, for better or for worse, could be a big boost to the Grizzlies if he can figure out how to function in these personnel groups. He's got every incentive to play at the highest level he knows how—if he doesn't, he might end up playing in China next year—and though he's had a couple of bad seasons, he was well-liked in LA and put up great numbers for the Pacers before that team self-destructed. Tapping Lance's offensive capabilities could go a long way towards helping the Grizzlies find some scoring punch the rest of the season, which they'll need without Lee and Green, two players whose benefits were mostly on offense (though Lee is also a very tough defender).

★ The new guys have already increased the Grizzlies' defensive effort on the perimeter. Stephenson and Hairston are both known to be active on that end, and though Hairston has struggled, he's had good stretches of play on defense so far. Jeff Green was always better guarding smaller guys than guarding other players at his position, so replacing him with guys who can defend out on the perimeter was a good move to shore up a defense with a long reputation for toughness.

★ The new players and the absence of Gasol force the Grizzlies to play smaller, which means they're using more of Conley and Chalmers together, and I think that's a really dangerous offensive lineup. Joerger has always seemed to do well with two-PG lineups, starting with the legendary ("legendary") Conley/Calathes duo a couple years ago, and Chalmers is far and away the best second PG the Grizzlies have had to put next to Conley in recent memory.

The Bad

  • Larry Kuzniewski

★ PJ Hairston is clearly pretty lost on the floor, to the point that Joerger is (rightfully) hesitant to play him for more than a few minutes at a time. The problem there—given Joerger's reluctance to play mistake-prone young players, especially in situations like this one where the Grizzlies need every possible win if they're going to make the playoffs—is that without minutes, Hairston will probably never find his way. If he continues to play poorly, and gets his minutes cut as a result, that means he'll probably just end up being dead weight on the roster, especially if/when Jordan Adams returns from injury.

★ Brandan Wright missed a lot of time with his knee injury, and before that, he only played about 100 regular season minutes as a Grizzly. So not only has he not had a lot of on-court time with his teammates, he's been out of action long enough that his timing—especially on jumps for rebounds and putbacks—and his stamina are out of whack. That will come with time, of course, and it's not a permanent thing, but it is an issue that's worth monitoring in the short term.

★ The Grizzlies' interior defense is a bit of a train wreck at the moment. This isn't a surprise, since Gasol has long been the anchor of the Grizzlies' defense, even in this, the worst overall season of his career. But the fact that it's not a surprising problem doesn't mean it's a not a problem. Last night against Toronto, the Raptors were able to get to the rim at will

The Ugly

  • Larry Kuzniewski

★ Tony Allen suffered a knee injury in the Grizzlies' win over Minnesota on Friday night. With Gasol already out, an Allen injury doesn't bode well for the Griz over the long haul. They were fine to beat the Wolves based pretty much totally on energy and effort, but against a much better team like the Raptors the limitations of the current Gasol- and Allen-less roster shone through pretty clearly. Some of that will change as guys get more time playing together, but Allen's absence also shortens the rotation by one more player.

★ The ugliest thing is the Grizzlies' schedule the rest of the way. They've got a stretch of very winnable games for the next two weeks, and then names like "Cavaliers" and "Celtics" and "Spurs" start popping up, and they don't go away, until finally the regular season ends with two games against the Warriors with a road game against the Clippers in the middle. It's not going to be pretty, especially for a team that already hasn't beaten an "elite" team this year, and now lacks their best player and has three new rotation pieces.

The Prognosis

Even with all of this stuff in play, I still think the Grizzlies make the playoffs. In the weakened Western Conference and with a 4.5 game lead on the 8th-place Rockets, I figure they need to get to 43 wins to make it (which means 11 more wins this season). That's reasonable, if optimistic, even with the difficult schedule remaining.

The question is, of course, whether things go south in the locker room, given that this year's Grizzlies was already a pretty intense group that has now added several more intense personalities. I don't see issues coming, but at the same time, I wouldn't be surprised. You can only press your luck by adding crazies for so long before one of them finally blows up in your face, and if it's going to happen, it's going to happen with this group of players once they're playing great teams on a nightly basis at the end of the year.

That's one possible outcome, but I still think it's more likely that they hang on by the skin of their teeth and make the playoffs as a 7 or 8 seed.

The Grizzlies were reported nationally to be tanking the season in order to collect draft picks when they traded Lee and Green. I disagree with that assessment—they players they got back, though flawed, are all going to be rotation players from here on out, especially if Allen's knee causes him to miss a lot of time. There's an elevated risk that the Grizzlies' long-running chemistry experiment goes horribly wrong, the basketball equivalent of DeLillo's Airborne Toxic Event, but this is the risk taken to get those draft picks. And besides, even if that's how it goes down, all of the guys acquired at the deadline are gone at the end of the year anyway. We'll see whether they can patch up some of these early issues, get used to playing together, and bully their way into the playoffs, or if the foundation was eroded just enough to make the Grizzlies' house fall in on itself this season.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Grizzlies trade Jeff Green for Clippers 1st rounder, Lance Stephenson

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 3:12 PM

Alas, Jeff Green's tenure as a Grizzly never really worked out, but they got a protected first round pick for him. - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Alas, Jeff Green's tenure as a Grizzly never really worked out, but they got a protected first round pick for him.

The Grizzlies have traded Jeff Green to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for a lottery-protected 2019 first round pick and guard Lance Stephenson. In doing so right at Thursday's trade deadline, they turned an OK trade period—yesterday they turned Courtney Lee into PJ Hairston, Chris Andersen, and four second-round picks—into an unqualified success.

In turning two players who were playing well but underperforming into a first round pick (which might actually convey, assuming the Clippers make the playoffs that year), four seconds (though one is so protected it probably won't ever make it to Memphis), a young guy who hasn't lived up to his promise, a big to replace Ryan Hollins at the end of the Gasol-less frontcourt rotation, and whatever you want to call Lance Stephenson (a.k.a. "Born Ready" a.k.a. "This Guy Will Be Gone In A Couple Months")... the Grizzlies really did well.

This is the kind of smart deadline those who watch the team were hoping they'd have: moving guys on expiring deals to teams willing to give up assets in exchange. The players the Grizzlies got back are pretty much all certifiably insane—and now they're on a team that already had Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Matt Barnes—but the bet here is that (1) these guys are all going to be gone at the end of the year anyway, but those draft picks won't and (2) the Griz may or may not make the playoffs anyway, so why not shore up their position for the future?

It's going to be interesting to see how this works out on the court. Lee's usage was pretty easily replaceable but the bulk of Green's minutes now will probably be split between Matt Barnes and, well, Vince Carter? I'm not sure who's going to be the bench 3 now. It could be James Ennis, recently recalled from the Iowa Energy. Maybe Stephenson will play backup 2 and Carter will slide over to small forward.

An ideal rotation might look a little something like (UPDATE — Now that it's confirmed that the Grizzlies aren't going to waive Stephenson, this is a better guess):

  • Conley / Allen / Barnes / Randolph / Wright
  • Chalmers / (Stephenson / Carter / Ennis wing bench wings) / Green (there's only one now!) / Andersen least, until Jordan Adams returns from his knee surgery, which will hopefully happen before the end of the season. I don't expect Stephenson to play much, but if he can tamp down his insanity, he might be a nice addition off the bench. That's a pretty big "if" though.

There's something to be said for the comments that in adding Hairston, Andersen, and Stephenson, all guys with histories of off-court issues (well, and on court ones too), the Grizzlies may have added too much "crazy" to a locker room that already has some pretty outsized personalities, but I'm not sure I buy it. These guys are crazy, but they're not stupid. The Grizzlies' locker room has very solid leaders, who will keep guys in line (especially Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, in terms of keeping personalities in check).

The on-court fit is secondary to the haul of draft picks, of course. Once it comes time to sign free agents, the Grizzlies' basic position is the same, except now they have a few more little pieces to work with if they'd like to facilitate a trade into their cap space instead of a signing. It's a bet on the future, a recognition that they need to prepare for the road ahead, even if it costs them games in the short term—which, let's be honest, might happen, especially at first with so many new guys to fill what had been established roles in the rotation (and I count the returning Brandan Wright in that, too).

This is exactly the kind of trade deadline the Griz needed to have if they were going to prove to the world that they recognized the importance of the future over the "now" (and even over next season). Plus they stuck the Clippers with Jeff Green, who—though he's had some great games this season—caused more chemistry problems on the floor that he was worth.

We'll see these guys in action tomorrow—Hairston and Andersen both practiced with the team today. More on this as it develops.

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Report: Grizzlies trade Courtney Lee to Charlotte

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 at 3:09 PM

  • Larry Kuzniewski

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Grizzlies have traded Courtney Lee in a three-team deal with the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat.

Charlotte gets Courtney Lee, the Miami Heat get Brian Roberts from Charlotte, and the Grizzlies get PJ Hairston, Chris Andersen, and four second-round picks (two from Charlotte, two from Miami), one of which is "heavily protected." (Protected heavily enough that the Grizzlies essentially get three picks, even if the fourth one is technically part of the deal.)

It's no secret that the Grizzlies have been trying to find some sort of future-oriented return on their expiring deals for a while now, and while I just speculated on this morning's Beyond the Arc podcast that the Grizzlies probably wouldn't be able to get much. This is the "not much" I was talking about, but they opted to go for it.

In Hairston, the Griz get a look at a young shooter (whose option wasn't picked up, so he's a free agent after this season) who they may want to keep if he can prove himself in the games remaining. In Andersen, the Griz have a big man they can package in another deal, or keep for the year, but either way he's gone after the season. Second round picks are, of course, good to have if you don't have any first round picks.

Really, if the Grizzlies don't do anything else, this is still an OK deal by me—they'll miss Lee, for sure, and I'd hate to think that this means Tony Allen and Jeff Green are going to start at the 2 and 3 for the rest of the year, but that's probably where we're headed barring another move—but now they have a little bit more flexibility (and certainly more assets, in the form of second-rounders) to work with between now and the deadline on Thursday.

We'll see. I'm not sure how much this moves the needle for the Grizzlies this year. It probably makes them a little bit worse. But it also doesn't gain them a single cent more salary in the offseason, and I didn't think they were going to bring Lee back anyway, so... no harm no foul.

Hairston and Andersen are certainly characters, though, and Lee is good friends with Jeff Green and Mike Conley, so the chemistry shock might take a little bit to get over. Hold on your your hats until Thursday, folks.

Beyond the Arc Podcast, #44: Put Down the Trade Machine

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 at 9:13 AM


This week on the show, Kevin and Phil talk about:

  • What to make of Bill Simmons' Trade Machine flights of fancy, including his assertion that the Grizzlies should trade Mike Conley.
  • Are the Knicks going to offer Conley a lot of money, or do they like Jeff Teague more? Is Langston Galloway going to keep them from trying to sign Conley?
  • What are the Grizzlies going to do at the trade deadline? Can they make a deal for their expiring contracts?
  • What approach should the Grizzlies take for the stretch run now that Gasol is out?
  • Is this going to force Dave Joerger to play young guys?

The Beyond the Arc podcast is available on iTunes, so you can subscribe there! It'd be great if you could rate and review the show while you're there. You can also find and listen to the show on Stitcher and on PlayerFM.

You can call our Google Voice number and leave us a voicemail, and we might talk about your question on the next show: 234-738-3394

You can download the show here or listen below:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Beyond the Arc Podcast, #43: Marc Gasol Injury? Don't Panic

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 at 7:31 AM


This week on the show, Kevin and Phil talk about:

  • Marc Gasol broke his foot in Monday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers
  • With Gasol out, maybe for the rest of the year, should the Grizzlies blow it up and start the rebuilding process?
  • Now that Gasol is injured, does Ryan Hollins get signed for the year?
  • Why did the Grizzlies fall apart down the stretch against Portland after such a close game?
  • Is it going to be better to give up the pick to Denver this year or next year? Do they have to do that now?
  • Kevin says the plan should be to bring in young players, have a down year next year and reload, but avoid "blowing it up" and being bad for several years.
  • Do the Grizzlies need to evaluate whether Dave Joerger is the coach they want for the future?
  • What if the Grizzlies brought in Meyers Leonard this summer? Would he be a good fit?

The Beyond the Arc podcast is available on iTunes, so you can subscribe there! It'd be great if you could rate and review the show while you're there. You can also find and listen to the show on Stitcher and on PlayerFM.

You can call our Google Voice number and leave us a voicemail, and we might talk about your question on the next show: 234-738-3394

You can download the show here or listen below:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Marc Gasol out indefinitely with broken right foot

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2016 at 5:07 PM

  • Larry Kuzniewski

Ron Tillery of the Commercial Appeal reported that Marc Gasol has a broken right foot and will be out indefinitely.

Gasol was questionable before the game against Portland yesterday with foot soreness, but at this time I haven't heard from the Grizzlies whether it's the same foot that was sore before last night's game or not. (UPDATE: Definitely the same foot.) Beyond that, there isn’t much additional info to report.

This probably means that Ryan Hollins will get signed for the year when his second 10-day runs out, whether Gasol is expected to return this season or not.

It also likely throws a monkey wrench into the Grizzlies’ trade deadline plans. I just said in my column this morning that I thought it was unlikely they’d be able to make a deal given the reduced value of expiring contracts in this offseason because of the increasing salary cap. Now, they may be in a position to have to give up more than they want to bolster a frontcourt rotation that will be missing the best player on the team. (Struggling this season or no, that’s still true.)

Should the Grizzlies fall out of the playoff race without Gasol—and really, who knows about that given the state of the Western Conference—and their draft pick fall between 6 and 14, they’ll have to give it up to the Denver Nuggets, which may be bad but would also mean they don’t have to give it up next summer.

A crazy, frustrating season just got a lot more frustrating, in a way that no one who watches this team would have expected. More on this as it develops.

Blazers 112, Grizzlies 106: Five Questions

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2016 at 9:02 AM

  • Larry Kuzniewski

After four quarters of close basketball, but a small if not comfortable Grizzlies lead, the Griz lost an excruciating close game last night after making a few critical offensive and defensive lapses down the stretch that allowed the Trail Blazers to force an overtime. Between not making layups, not grabbing important rebounds (and, in Jeff Green's defense, no other Grizzlies player even tried to rebound on Portland's game-tying tip-in), and not making the right defensive play, it was a frustrating way to watch a game slip away against a team that's under .500 in the West.

To add injury to insult, Marc Gasol—who was questionable for much of the game with soreness in his foot—ended up (1) almost punching Meyers Leonard in the face and (2) leaving the game early with a "mid-foot injury" and not returning.

So, as you can see, not the Grizzlies' best evening. Certainly not their worst, not this season, but for a team that wants every win it can get for seeding purposes, this was one that was very winnable.

Here are five questions from last night's game.

Why not rest Marc Gasol instead of playing him?

The right move with Marc Gasol, who has played some very poor games lately and has been struggling all season, whether that's from poor conditioning or nagging injuries or whatever else, was probably not to play him in the first place. The All-Star break starts after the Grizzlies' Wednesday night game at Brooklyn, and (in theory anyway) Portland and Brooklyn are both losing teams, the kind the Grizzlies have mostly been handling lately.

Given where Gasol is at lately, why not just shut him down until the break and let his foot get a chance to heal up those three or four extra days? I think there are a few reasons, none of which I really agree with.

  • Larry Kuzniewski

1. Gasol is fiercely competitive and basically refuses to acknowledge that he is capable of feeling pain in his body. He's played through torn abdominal muscles, he's come back from a grade 2 MCL sprain way too early to carry his team to the playoffs, he's played through high ankle sprains—the dude just plays through everything.

As he ages, though, somebody's got to be able to stand in his way of doing it. At 30, and signed to a five-year max deal, every indication is that the Grizzlies plan to build their next contending core around Gasol. He's old enough now that his rest has to be taken seriously, and letting him play through any and everything he can physically handle isn't the responsible approach to that.

2. I don't think Dave Joerger thinks it's really his responsibility to make sure guys get rest, or at least not games off.

The truth is that Joerger's an old-school coach in a young body. We've always known this about him. His focus seems to always be on the game in front of him, and winning that game at all costs before moving on to the next one. Sometimes that's good. There are times when that's a really useful way to power through a tough section of the schedule. But... overall, I think it's an area of his job where he's got room to improve. Rotation decisions, rest decisions, player development—all of these things eventually fall on the coach at some level, and pushing too hard on immediate day-to-day results can be detrimental to all three.

3. Resting key players no matter the circumstances is something that really only the Spurs do well. The Warriors probably would if their best players ever had to actually play in the fourth quarter. Just because only the Spurs are good at it doesn't mean the Grizzlies shouldn't try, but that's not really the culture of the organization right now. Zach Randolph has rested several games when he's gotten banged up the last couple of seasons, and he's come back playing really well, but Gasol and Conley never really stop. They never shut it down. And as much as I'd like to say "Yeah but those guys just want to play," at some point, it shouldn't be their call anymore.

The Grizzlies have invested a lot of money in training facilities this season, and they went to training camp specifically to work with P3 on injury prevention (yeah, and then Wright got hurt and Adams stayed hurt, but still). The next step is to take that injury prevention focus and apply it to who plays on back-to-backs and who doesn't, and that sort of thing. It's cultural. It's got to come from the top, and it's also got to be built over time.

We'll see what Gasol's prognosis is today, but I still contend he probably shouldn't have been in the game to begin with, and under no circumstances should he be on the floor Wednesday night in Brooklyn. It's just not worth it.

  • Larry Kuzniewski

Tony Allen is shooting 40.7% from three this season?

That's not a question, but I'll roll with it: yes. He is. He's still a career 28% shooter from range, but this season, he seems to be not only choosing his spots more wisely but converting them at a higher rate than usual.

Part of this is that he's still left wide open on a regular basis because teams don't think he's going to hit anything from that far out. For the most part, I'd say that's still a safe assumption, but the more Allen is able to make them pay for leaving him wide open, the better, and an evolution and improvement in his jump shooting is certainly a welcome change.

I don't think he's going to become Ray Allen out there or anything, but even just being able to take advantage of defenses literally pretending he's not on the floor is a big deal for Allen, and so far this year he seems to be making the most of it.

  • Larry Kuzniewski

Jeff Green was really good, and then not so good. What should we expect from him?

Here's the thing that Jeff Green's time in Memphis has told us: averages don't really mean anything for Jeff Green. He may be averaging 12 points a game, but that doesn't mean he's got a lot of games with 12 points—he oscillates between good games and bad ones, and occasionally has an "average" one.

So to say that he's had great games lately (which he really, truly has) and had some bad games lately (which he has, against Dallas and last night against Portland) but the truth is somewhere in the middle? That's not really the case. The truth is that he's all of these players at once, and you never know which one is showing up for a given game. And that's the frustrating thing about trying to predict how Green will play or whether he'll fit with the team or what lineup move is going to make him better: he's just not consistent enough to reliably predict, in general. Sometimes he plays like the best player on the floor. Others, not so much. And sometimes, like the Dallas game, he's on the court longer than he should be and his tendencies to get lost on defensive switches get exaggerated by his fatigue.

The safe expectation is that Jeff Green is going to have really great games, and really bad games, and some games in the middle, at random intervals. The truth isn't just somewhere in the middle. With Green (like so many other things) the outliers in either direction have to be considered part of the reality.

  • Larry Kuzniewski

Is Ryan Hollins going to get signed for the year?

Who knows. On Monday night, with Marc Gasol injured, in an overtime game, Hollins only played 6 minutes, and missing person JaMychal Green played 13, after two weeks of seeing Hollins push him out of the rotation. Since the initial drive to sign Hollins was because of a lack of frontcourt depth, one would've been safe in assuming a Gasol injury would've meant more minutes for Hollins, not less.

But who knows. Maybe Joerger knows they're not going to keep him for the year and was trying to see whether he could make things work without playing him? Maybe Hollins was getting killed in the minutes he played and Joerger pulled the plug? (That doesn't really match with what I saw in the game—I don't think Hollins is a good player, really, but I didn't think he doing anything that was worse than normal.)

If Gasol is going to miss time with the foot injury he suffered last night, I'd expect Hollins to grab that last roster spot as a security blanket in case they need the depth. But that also depends on what the Grizzlies have cooking for the trade deadline.

Speaking of the trade deadline, are the Grizzlies going to make a deal?

Seems unlikely at this point. I know for a fact they've had calls—at this point of the season, every team in the league is talking to every other team in the league just trying to see what they can pry loose. But the truth is that the Grizzlies don't have many players they can trade who aren't on expiring contracts, and teams who need cap space can just... wait until the summer when the cap goes up by $30mm instead of actually giving up something of value to clear space.

I'm sure the Grizzlies would love to turn Jeff Green or Courtney Lee's expiring deals—players they're probably not going to bring back anyway—into some sort of asset, whether that's a pick of some sort or a young player on a rookie contract. But I'm just not sure there's that much of a market for wing players who will get more money on their next deals who are free agents. The cap increase has tilted the economics of expirings in such a way that it just doesn't make sense for very many teams to make that kind of deal unless they think Courtney Lee or Jeff Green could be the piece that gets them in the NBA Finals. And if they're in the Western Conference, they probably won't be.

Tweet of the Night

We're big fans of the haiku form at Beyond the Arc World Headquarters, and, well, this is techincally a haiku.


Up Next

The Grizzlies are in Brooklyn to take on the Nets on Wednesday, who aren't playing as bad as they have been lately, and won a game Monday night on a Joe Johnson buzzer-beater. It's the last game before the break, on the road against a bad East team, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a lack of focus, but we'll just have to see.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Grizzlies 121, Kings 117: Next Day Notes

Posted By on Sun, Jan 31, 2016 at 2:20 PM

  • Larry Kuzniewski

The Grizzlies won their third game in a row (and the seventh out of their last eight) in a way that is unusual for them: they scored a lot of points, beating the Sacramento Kings 121-117 after fending off a spectacular defensive collapse that saw the Kings put up 40 fourth-quarter points but fail to take the Grizzlies' lead. That the Kings had a 40-point quarter and still didn't win should tell you how the first three quarters went: lopsided.

The Griz came into the game seemingly determined to push the pace against the Kings, leaking out and running the break whenever possible, and it worked. They were up 20 points at multiple points in the contest, but the Kings always started to reel them back in. Finally, despite Jeff Green's big scoring night off the bench, Dave Joerger had to go back to the starting lineup (last night's was Mike Conley, Courtney Lee, Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol) to stop the Kings' comeback attempt and seal the Grizzlies win.

You want game notes? I have game notes.

Game Notes

★ Jeff Green had his 3rd straight 20-point game off the bench, finishing with 29 on 11/16 shooting. Green's offense was a big reason the Grizzlies were able to keep the Kings at arms' length for so much of the game, and when he finally went cold in the fourth, he wasn't the only one—the entire lineup seemed to turn back into a pumpkin at once. This is the best Jeff Green for the Grizzlies, and it's been pretty apparent since his first stint as a reserve last year—which was his idea in the first place, apparently. Coming off the bench keeps him from throwing off the chemistry of the starters, lets him run more with Mario Chalmers (whose improvisatory style of play suits Green better, I think), and keeps him from messing with the team's chemistry any more than he already has.

This is the Jeff Green that the Grizzlies want and need. It's a shame that he's finding this sort of a groove when time is running out on his tenure here, whether that's before the trade deadline or after the season is over.

★ Ryan Hollins played almost 10 minutes, and JaMychal Green got a DNP-CD. In terms of minutes at the 5, I understand it: Hollins couldn't defend DeMarcus Cousins at all without fouling him, and Green trying to do the same thing would've been an abject disaster. So, for once, I understand why Joerger let Hollins soak up all of Green's rotation minutes.

The larger trend is still troubling, though. Green's better as a rangy 4, and Joerger seems to be creating a false dichotomy between playing Hollins at the backup center and playing Green at the same spot. Green is one of the few young players the Grizzlies have actually developed in the last few years, and to see him molder on the bench behind a guy who—no offense is intended by this—is just as good as any other end-of-the-bench 10-day type while JaMychal Green could be out there getting better and smarter, learning through experience... well, that's a big reason I didn't like Lionel Hollins, and it's a big problem I have with Joerger. Playing some random vet because he's "your guy" to the detriment of a young player on a great contract with more upside is wrongheaded even if it helps win one or two extra games along the way. And besides, are the Timberwolves really going to care about those two extra wins on Joerger's regular season résumé?

(That last one was mostly a joke.)

  • Larry Kuzniewski

★ Mike Conley was not playing well at all for most of the game, passing up shots to set up Tony Allen jumpers, all while shooting 0-3 for 0 points for himself. That turned in the last 8 minutes or so of the game, when he had a really lucky long jumper go in right at the shot clock buzzer. From there, Conley was 3-3 for 8 points and was a critical part of the Grizzlies' ability to hold off the Kings and escape with the win.

In this, a contract year in which he stands to get max money, or at least something close to it, Conley's struggles have been concerning. His injury history over the last two seasons hasn't been great, and the prospect of paying that much money to a guy who is struggling to approach career averages in every category is, well, frightening at best. But I still believe Conley can be as good as he's always been. This year has been weird for everyone, and if Conley is struggling, he's still not having as bad of a year as Marc Gasol is. One hopes this stuff will work itself out by the end of the year, and the Grizzlies do the right thing with all that money, whatever it may be. I have a feeling it will be going into Mike Conley's bank account, and that's probably fine.

Tweet of the Night

Up Next

On Monday, the Grizzlies travel to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans (and probably try to get them to give up some sort of pick for Courtney Lee or Jeff Green while they're down there, just for good measure—the deadline is approaching, after all). After that, a three-day break before a back to back at New York on Friday and home against the Mavericks on Saturday.

We're almost to the All-Star Break, which last year was just long enough for guys to get a little bit lazy and out of shape, and seemed to coincide with the beginnings of the team's on-again, off-again malaise that has carried through to this season (well, until this recent stretch of games against losing teams). With any luck, the Griz can make it through the break and come back more focused instead of less focused, and we won't have to write any more posts about whether Marc Gasol is slowly losing his mind.

© 1996-2016

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation