Since we’re now deep in the nowhereland of the NBA offseason, somewhere between free agency and the start of training camp, it seemed like a good time to take a step back. The BSB staff took turns answering some big picture questions about the Grizzlies, many of which were impacted by the 2012-13 season.
Which win or series of wins meant the most during the 2012-13 regular season?
Andrew Millen: Were it not for the Rudy Gay trade, I would have chosen the 8 game streak in the beginning of November (a 12-1 month) that included back to back wins over Houston, Miami, Oklahoma City, and New York, two of which were nationally televised. At this early point in the season the Grizzlies held the best record in the NBA for a few days – call it publicity for the coming out party we had in the playoffs. But when the organization restructured the team in January and friction began to emerge between the head coach and the front office, many pundits (few of whom watch the Grizzlies with regularity) counted us out. That’s why I instead choose the 8 game streak that started on February 8, opening a 16-3 stretch that concluded with Marc Gasol’s ridiculous tip-in buzzer-beater against OKC. The teams we beat in this stretch were far less impressive, generally “beatable” opponents – but that’s just the thing. The Grizzlies showed that they hadn’t collapsed without Rudy Gay. They were still better than many of the average teams in the league. Memphis held its opponents to 86 PPG in those 8 wins. This streak heralded the new era of the Grizzlies, hopefully one that will continue under Joerger.
Who will leave the Grizzlies first (through trade or retirement), Zach Randolph or Tony Allen?
Hal Brown: I actually wrote something about why the Zach Randoph trade rumors basically will never stop, and why they’re also not likely to ever come to real fruition in the next year. In short: since the knee injury, Z-Bo hasn’t really been playing up to his pay raise, and there’s no indication after last season that he ever will again. That said, he’s still a huge asset for the Grizzlies, and a fundamental part of an offense that pretty desperately needs it’s fundamental parts. Z-Bo is significantly more valuable to the Grizzlies than he would be in a trade to another team, even though he’s overpaid, and as a result, I seriously doubt that he’ll get swapped anytime soon, despite the rumors that persist and persist and persist.
Next season, though, is another story. Randolph has a player option, and it’s hard to know what exactly he may want to do with that: if he keeps playing at the level he has since the injury, the $16 million he’s owed could be mighty appealing. On the other hand, we saw Andre Igoudala opt out of his massive player option this last season in search of a longer deal too; some players want the security more than the extra money, and that could easily be the case with Z-Bo.
With Randolph, certainly don’t expect him to be extended. He’s being overpaid, at the moment, and Memphis knows it. If he opts out next season, expect him to go elsewhere. If he opts in, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Grizzlies do, in fact, trade him to jettison the excessive salary when they don’t have much hope of (or desire for) retaining him long-term anyway.
What I’m getting to, at the heart of it, is that I really don’t expect to see Randolph get traded next season, but I do expect that next season will be his last season with Memphis. For Tony Allen, though, I think he’s become as fundamental a part of the Grizzlies as there can be. There would be a fan revolt if Memphis traded him, and Allen has four relatively cheap years on his new contract. I don’t see any reason why the Grizzlies would think to trade The Grindfather, and I figure he’ll stay in Tennessee for each one of those four years.
So, sad to say, Z-Bo leaves first, I think.
Which move has had (or will have) a bigger impact on the Grizzlies, the Pau-Marc deal or the Rudy Gay trade?
Kevin Yeung: I’m going to say that the Pau-Marc trade will have a bigger impact on the Grizzlies. There’s plenty to be said for the addition-by-subtraction trade of Rudy Gay and his contract, and Ed Davis could end up to be really good for us. With that said, however, Marc Gasol’s impact is even greater. He is one of star players, and so much of what the Grizzlies do on both ends is facilitated through Gasol. He plays an important role on offense between his passing, his low-post game, his midrange shot and his offensive rebounding. As last season’s Defensive Player of the Year, he contributes heavily to the Grizzlies’ team defense as well, challenging shots, rotating perfectly and throwing his weight around under the rim. Gasol will be one of the players leading the charge for the Grizzlies as they look to contend, and he alone is worth more than anything the Rudy Gay trade might have accomplished.
Will the Grizzlies finally be able to win their opening game this year, against the Spurs, under a new head coach? If so, what will it mean for Joerger?
John Tucker: Once again the Grizzlies will open the season against the team that ousted them in the playoffs. This time around, though, things will look significantly different. The Grizzlies have improved vastly this offseason and addressed many of their biggest weaknesses. Possibly the biggest difference for the Grizzlies, however, will be new head coach David Joerger running things from the sideline instead of Lionel Hollins. I think management has done a fantastic job supplying Joerger with a much better, well-rounded team to contend in a much improved Western Conference. Thus, I think the Grizzlies have a great chance of winning their opening game against the Spurs. The biggest question is how long will it take for the team to gel. In the long term, winning their opening game isn’t such a big deal. It’s still only 1 game out of 82, but in the short term, opening the season with a win against last year’s Western Conference champs could mean a great deal for Joerger, especially from the fans’ perspective. A win against the Spurs would provide a sense of justification after the contentious departure of former coach Lionel Hollins. A win would also mean starting the season off on the right foot, a season which fans hope will be the most successful in Grizzlies history.