Agree wholeheartedly on continuity & stability as the unsung heroes of recent Grizz success. For years, the team was firing coaches every 18 months, long before a winning culture could be established. That, combined with having the same core players for much of the past five seasons, has been HUGE for this franchise.
As for what coach wants to do, I've spent some time around him, talking about those types of things. His focus is pretty much on winning the next game. I'm sure he wants to stay with the team, but he's not obsessing over it, not even remotely worried about it. The "adaptability" that Chris wrote about above applies to more than just managing the team. He will roll with whatever comes down the pipe for him next -- and more likely than not, succeed.
Also worth noting: Whether the Grizz are finding themselves in as many "clutch" situations since trading Rudy. The offense has been much more fluid, likely resulting in more secure leads in late game situations.
Like you, I had my share of buddies who ripped the Grizz for that trade. To which, I replied, "If you actually WATCH the games, you'll know that it's not a lock that the Grizz got worse." Of course, they went on that streak shortly afterwards and that kinda shut that noise up.
One of my main concerns post trade, was that sure, maybe Marc and/or Zach can take over the game . . . IF you can get the ball to them. I was like, we need a slasher/scorer who can create offense. We wanted O.J. to be that guy (sometimes he was). Rudy kinda fell into that role (but when was the last time you remember Rudy taking over a game?)
I've long felt that Mike Conley has the speed and skill to get into the lane at will, and thought that if Levien & Co. didn't bring someone else in (unlikely) he'd need to step into that role of late game "impose his will" guy. He has risen to that and continues to rise.
Though playoff success will require strong bench play & a return to 20/10 for Zach, the team will go as far as Mike Conley & Marc Gasol take them. Those are the guys who must make a name for themselves in these playoffs. I think they're both ready to do it.
What I do enjoy is that Memphis has become a place where players can come to blossom . . . think Zach, Marc, Tony, Mo . . . hopefully we'll add Ellington to that list.
To me, the bigger question is will he defend? My hunch is that unless he is truly lights out from the arc, he's going to need to play solid defense to get minutes.
Still wish we were bringing Arenas back, though . . .
Of course, I'm biased here, as the "Arenas Blogger," but I still think that Gil should be near the top of the list. The fact that he can be had for a minimum salary and still potentially fills either (or both) of those needed roles of PG and Shooter, seems like a no brainer to me.
On one hand, he came into a lockout-shortened season, in poor conditioning, with no training camp and had an injury. It would stand to reason that with a full camp to learn the system, a summer to get conditioned and healthy and actual time off between games, he could still contribute -- and for pennies, no less.
On the other hand, I wasn't in the locker room. Don't know if Gil enjoyed it here, if he posed a problem for Coach, if he wants to come back or if the team wants him. But again, assuming that none of those things are true, I'm surprised they haven't even mentioned him. It was a low-risk high-reward move in March; don't see why it couldn't be again.
Well slow your roll just a second.
Can we please stop with the "Trade Rudy Gay" chants? Truth is, we STILL don't know what a full season of Zach & Rudy would yield us. You DO realize that Rudy Gay carried the team this year, right?
I'd keep going but the bottom line is this: Trading Rudy Gay now would mean blowing up the team. And while there is a time to blow up a team, we ain't there yet.
Nice piece, Chris.
I said during the losing streak that I still felt pretty good because the losing streak put into stark relief that there's nothing wrong with this team that Zach Randolph can't fix, and once he returns, there will be even more Memphis Mayhem.
During the losing streak, the two main issues were an inability to score and an absolute shellacking on the glass, particularly the offensive boards. Assuming Zach returns soon and healthy, we'll have a reliable option to throw the ball to when nothing else is falling (not to mention that Marc's offensive productivity will increase). And on top of that, Zach will snag some of those errant jumpers that Rudy, Mike & OJ hoist, and put them back in the bucket.
What I'm really anxious to see is when Hollins brings Zach off the bench along with O.J. for at least the first few weeks of March, as Zach slowly acclimates himself to the new way the team plays. That's some awesome firepower to bring off the bench, and of course, there's no way Zach's not on the court at the end of a close game. It's not who starts, it's who finishes . . .
By Louis Goggans
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