Less than a week ago, the Memphis Grizzlies won what was arguably their biggest game of the year.
No, it wasn’t against the Heat, though they have beaten them the last two times they’ve faced. It wasn’t against the Western Conference champion Thunder, but that would have been a big win as well.
The Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs at home in overtime for their first win against them since game 6 of the 2011 first round. Since that night, the Grizzlies had lost five straight against the Spurs, including one earlier this season. That first meeting also went to overtime.
With the season series tied 1-1, who is most likely to break the deadlock tonight? The Grizzlies won the last meeting, but outside of that game, Memphis’ offense has been absolutely dreadful. Rock bottom for the team may have come on Monday night in a flurry of snow and ice in Memphis.
The Clippers, without Chris Paul waltzed into FedEx Forum and pounded the Grizzlies 99-73 in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score may indicate. While that performance woke some people up around the country to the Grizzlies’ struggles, the fact is that since that torrid start to the season, Memphis’s offense has vanished. Even worse, there isn’t one area that you could point to in an attempt to right the ship, just a number of theories.
The Spurs are led by their big three, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. It’s been that way for over a decade now. The Spurs may not win the title every year, and they may not make it to the Finals every year, but they always seem to be in the mix. Last season, the Spurs ended the season and flowed into the postseason on one of the hottest streaks that the NBA has ever seen. They swept through the first two rounds of the playoffs and won their first two games against the Oklahoma City Thunder before losing four straight. In a matter of a week, the Spurs went from title favorites to sitting at home watching the Finals.
But there the Spurs were again, in the NBA’s final four. Two more wins away from yet another Finals appearance. Maybe they would have even toppled the Heat in the Finals. The sad truth is that we’ll never really know.
I think the Grizzlies hang close and even lead late in the 4th quarter, but the Spurs are too good to lose to the same team twice in a row and at home to boot. The Grizzlies will definitely show more passion than they did the other night but it won’t be enough.
A lot of people have been asking me about the leaked trade proposal idea centered around Rudy Gay going to the Wizards for Bradley Beal. I love this deal for the Grizzlies but it will never happen, for a few reasons.
First, the Wizards are a bad team. I know they’ve been without John Wall for most of the season and the Eastern Conference isn’t that great. I understand all of that, but even by those low standards, the Wizards are one of the two worst teams in basketball. They need to be stockpiling assets to trade for a superstar, not trading a young player on a cheap rookie deal for a sub All-Star performer on a max deal like Rudy Gay.
An ideal fit for Gay would be a team that’s kind of close to contending and needs one more piece to get over the hump. Think Indiana, Chicago or Brooklyn. Indiana has a guy almost exactly like Rudy Gay in Danny Granger and wouldn’t save the Grizzlies a ton of money in his own right, so they don’t make a ton of sense. Chicago has a better player than Gay in Luol Deng, but would be genuinely interesting when Derrick Rose returns if you replaced Deng with Gay.
Brooklyn is very intriguing as they would involve Gerald Wallace, but his performance has fallen off a cliff so far this year as he’s averaging under 10 points per game and is signed for three more years after this one. But, he would save money in the short term and would fit into the Grizzlies’ Grit N’ Grind mantra.
I don’t know what a good haul for Gay is, truthfully. He’s a great player to be sure, and if he made $10 million per year there would be no issue because he would probably be worth that. It’s the fact that he’s overpaid that is the biggest problem. It always has been. You think Miami cares about paying LeBron $17 million a year? No way. You think Oklahoma City is trying to dump Kevin Durant because he makes $17.5 this year? Of course not.
By the same token, Rudy’s salary makes it tough to move him as well. If someone has to absorb his cap figure, then they have to send back a bad contract as well. If the Grizzlies need to dash under the luxury tax threshold, they may have to take a hit at production at the 3 spot. But if you don’t get a big name, then most fans will riot. Amazing as it seems, some Grizzlies fans still think Rudy is an All-Star and will be making the leap any day now.
For the record (and since I’m so rarely right) if the Grizzlies had pulled the trigger on this one deal this off season, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Oh well. You live and learn.
Stay tuned to us here at Beale Street Bears as our coverage will really heat up around the trade deadline and into the stretch run of the regular season.