Friday, April 20, 2012

On Lester Hudson and Homecourt Hopes

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 9:36 AM

Memphis native Lester Hudson will be back in Beale Street Blue this weekend.
  • Memphis native Lester Hudson will be back in Beale Street Blue this weekend.
The Grizzlies, who play the Charlotte Bobcats tonight, were off yesterday, but it was still an eventful night for the team. Within the span of an hour or so, word came out that the Grizzlies were signing Memphis native Lester Hudson to a rest-of-season contract and the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers finally lost, falling at Phoenix in a close one.

Hudson first: The former Central High School and UT-Martin player is a dynamic 6'3” scoring guard who had a cup of coffee with the Grizzlies a couple of years ago, memorably scoring 13 points in 12 minutes in a home win over the Lakers back in February of 2010. Hudson, already 27, has been a journeyman through three seasons, playing 49 games for four franchises while spending time overseas and the “D” League, but has always shown good scoring ability when given the chance. And he finally got a major chance in 13 games this spring with the Cleveland Cavaliers, in which Hudson averaged 13 points in 24 minutes a game, including a recent four-game stretch in which he averaged 23 points a game and became a league-wide story for his sudden big-shot eruption:

When Hudson and the Cavaliers weren't able to agree on a rest-of-season deal and his current 10-day contract expired, it opened the door for the Grizzlies to sign Hudson while preserving his eligibility for the post-season. Hudson won't average 24 minutes for the Grizzlies, but should be a better deep-bench option for the post-season than rookies Jeremy Pargo and Josh Selby and will provide insurance against the current finger injury — a torn ligament — that's sidelined Gilbert Arenas. It's a good move for the Grizzlies and for Hudson, who gets to come home and potentially see court time in the playoffs. If Hudson performs well, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Grizzlies look at bringing him back as a potential cost-effective bench scorer next season, when luxury-tax concerns will make retaining O.J. Mayo a longshot.

Playoff Positioning: While Hudson was apparently on a plane to Memphis — expect him to debut tomorrow night against Portland — the Phoenix Suns were doing the Grizzlies a solid by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers, snapping the Clippers five-game winning streak and increasing the Grizzlies' still-slim odds getting a top-four seed just a little bit.

With a week to play, the Grizzlies probably need to win out to have a chance to move up, and with a final stretch of Bobcats-Blazers-Cavs-Magic, they've got a good shot at doing so. If that happens, the Grizzlies would still need a lot of help: Either the Clippers losing two of their final three games (Hornets, at Hawks, at Knicks) or the Lakers losing all three of their remaining games (at Spurs, Thunder, at Kings). And neither of those outcomes — while unlikely — would be shocking. If all three of those things happened, the Grizzlies could actually move up to third.

So, for now at least, scoreboard watching is still in full effect: The Grizzlies play in Charlotte at 6 p.m. with the Lakers at San Antonio at 8:30. If both games go the right way, the chance to pass the Lakers will remain alive.


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