Friday, June 21, 2013

Deflections: Draft Workouts, Finals Thoughts, and More

Posted By on Fri, Jun 21, 2013 at 12:51 PM

News and notes on a day of recovery as the 2012-2013 season officially ends:

D.J. Stephens
Final Draft Workouts: Virginia Tech guard Erick Green and University of Memphis forward D.J. Stephens headlined the Grizzlies draft workout yesterday. I'll be surprised if Stephens is drafted on Thursday, much less by the Grizzlies. But I do think he's at least a viable option late in the second round. And with two picks in the final six selections, the Grizzlies would seem a more likely destination than most regardless of Stephens' local connection. Chances are, though, he'll be on some team's Summer League roster last this month as a non-roster invite.

The gym is dormant today but the team will hold double workouts on Monday featuring a dozen or so players, which are expected to be the team's final workouts before next Thursday's draft.

Among the college prospects expected on Monday: Texas guard Myck Kabongo, N.C. State guard Lorenzo Brown, Illinois State forward Jackie Carmichael, and Memphis forward Adonis Thomas. Florida forward Erik Murphy was scheduled to attend but a recent shoulder injury makes his presence questionable.

With three second-round picks, the Grizzlies are expected to be in the “draft-and-stash” business on Thursday night. And, to that end, the team is also bringing in several international prospects on Monday. Among the leading names in that contingent are expected to be Brazilian forward Augusto Lima, French forward Joffrey Lauvergne, and Latvian swingman Janis Timma.

I'll post a no-doubt hapless attempt at the Grizzlies' draft preview next week, probably on Tuesday morning.

Fan Open House: The Grizzlies will hold an open house for potential season ticket holders tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at FedExForum. Fans can “test drive” available seats and meet with team ticket reps. There will be free parking in the arena's parking garage and anyone buying tickets will get a tour of the team locker room.

Summer League Schedule: The initial schedule is out for the Las Vegas Summer League, in which the Grizzlies will again be participating. This year, the league will be run in tournament form, with three preliminary games before the tournament seeding begins.

The Grizzlies first three games are:
vs. Bulls, 7 p.m., Saturday, July 13th
vs. Cavaliers, 7 p.m., Sunday, July 14th
vs. Suns, 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 16th

Also in Vegas next month is Mike Conley, who will be among 27 young players attending a mini-camp for USA basketball.

Finals Thoughts: Memphis loved the Finals, ranking fifth among all media markets for Games 6 and 7 and tops among markets outside the Miami and San Antonio areas. And this Memphian really loved the Finals, even though I was rooting for the Spurs and especially for Tim Duncan, who would lead the frontcourt rotation on my all-time Personal Faves team (with Kevin Garnett, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and Oliver Miller).

A few other random thoughts:

In terms of the last few Finals, nothing in this series will linger with me quite as strongly as seeing Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki getting their first and so-far only titles. (Best first-time champ this year: Chris Anderson?) But Tony Parker's Game 1 miracle shot and Walter Ray Allen's Game 6 corner three are all-timers. As is, in a different way, Duncan missing at the rim with a chance to tie it up late last night.

That said, this series was better and more momentous than any we've seen in a good while, with two players who will settle in the all-time Top Ten and will stand — at least to me — as the best of their adjacent generations leading their well-matched teams. It was a fitting cap to an awesome NBA season.

It was a second ring each for two of the most beloved players in Grizzlies history, Mike Miller and Shane Battier, the latter of whom had a “podium game” with 6-8 three-point shooting and the crucial defense on Duncan's late miss:

Kawhi Leonard (19 and 16 in Game 7) was a breakout player in defeat. Where does he now rank among small forwards going into next season? Behind fellow 2013 breakout Paul George, but, considering his two-way value and upward trajectory perhaps above the borderline-All-Star tier of Rudy Gay, Luol Deng, and Nicholas Batum?

Uninformed guesses from afar: Manu Ginobili retires and Spurs make a significant frontcourt free-agent signing to remain in the West's top tier next season as Duncan enters his age 38 season. The Heat stand pat with their Big Three while finding a free agent frontcourt player of their own to take less than market value for a title shot next season.

The Bluff City Classic is Back: Memphis' summer pro league started back up this past week at Southwest Tennessee Community College. I was too wrapped up in the Finals to make it out during its opening week, but hope to get into the Classic mix after next week's draft. A few players currently or formerly under contract with the Grizzlies — Donte Green, Willie Reed, and Josh Selby — apparently suited up last week. I paid my respects to the Classic in the lead item in this week's Flyer roundup of 10 free things to do in Memphis this summer.

Coaching Limbo: I wish I had more to offer on this front. As far as we know, the Grizzlies are done with interviews for their open head-coaching position. But with the draft fast approaching, it's uncertain whether they will try to make a hire in the few days leading up to the draft or wait until afterward. My best intel has the team's management spending the weekend digesting everything from this week's battery of interviews and plotting the next course. But I'll be out of town next Tuesday afternoon through Thursday afternoon. So, judging by past Grizzlies history, I'm fully expecting a big announcement in that time frame. The Grizzlies, of course, are one of four NBA teams currently with a coaching vacancy. They may make a hire before next week's draft, but I don't think there's any sense that they need to do so.

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