Eric Gordon’s enjoying a career year in Houston. As they come to town Friday, let’s not forget how he almost signed with the Memphis Grizzlies.
July 1st should be declared a city-wide holiday for the Memphis Grizzlies. To kick off free agency, Memphis stunned the NBA world by signing Chandler Parsons to a 4-year, $94 million contract, the biggest free agent acquisition in franchise history. Later that day, they dropped a whopping $153 million on starting point guard Mike Conley, giving him the richest contract in NBA history (for now, thanks new CBA).
What many fans may not remember is the big splash that almost was.
Man oh man, imagining Eric Gordon in a Memphis Grizzlies uniform seems like a dream. What’s crazy is that it was almost a reality, until this Woj bomb:
While they didn’t sign the elite marksman, the Memphis Grizzlies made up for it by signing James Ennis and Troy Daniels. Obviously, Eric Gordon is the better player, but the Memphis Grizzlies needed depth.
What could’ve been
If Eric Gordon were to have signed with the Memphis Grizzlies, they’d have another Sixth Man of the Year candidate off the bench.
In a second-unit lineup with Harrison, Ennis, Randolph and Martin, Gordon could’ve had the freedom to control all playmaking responsibilities. Furthermore, he’d unload scoring pressure off Randolph.
What many Memphis Grizzlies fans and basketball purists expected, though, is Eric Gordon on the court with Conley, Parsons, Randolph and Gasol. All I have to say to the thought of that is: “WOW!”
Throughout the Grizzlies’ six-year playoff streak, they’ve lacked outside shooting among Conley, Randolph and Gasol. For example, in the 2013 Western Conference Finals, when the starting wings were Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince, the Spurs didn’t even guard them, clogging the lanes for Conley, Randolph and Gasol.
After going down 2-1 to the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2015 Western Conference semifinals, the Andrew Bogut “guarded” Tony Allen and dared him to shoot. In doing so, the Warriors won the next three games.
With Eric Gordon and Chandler Parsons, teams would’ve had to think twice before doubling the post or crashing the paint.
Instead of this pipe-dream, Eric Gordon is now with the Houston Rockets, relishing his opportunity on his new team. He’s thriving as a scoring sixth man, averaging 17.8 points on scorching 43.6 percent from downtown on 8.6 attempts per game. Right now, Mike D’Antoni has united this team and has a sure-fire MVP candidate (James Harden) and Sixth Man of the Year frontrunner (Eric Gordon) playing the best basketball of their careers.
Keys to the game
1. Guard the 3-point line. The Rockets are torching the league from downtown. They’ve shot 37.8 percent from beyond the arc on 38.9 attempts per game. Houston already has multiple games where they’ve made 20 threes. If the Memphis Grizzlies let them get hot, they’ll indeed have a problem.
2. Ride the hot hand. After a horrid game against Utah (8 points on 4-for-22 shooting), Marc Gasol has responded in a big way. Over the past 2 games, he’s averaging 31 points on 22-for-39 shooting (56.4 percent) from the field and 5-for-7 (71.4 percent) from downtown. With Clint Capella hurt, the Memphis Grizzlies must capitalize and feed Big Spain.
3. Don’t get complacent. Against Boston, the Memphis Grizzlies blew a 17-point lead and lost the game. Even Fizdale said that they “stayed in the locker room.” There were times against Detroit where they let them back in the game. If the Grizzlies are up, they can’t let down. Houston has the ability to light up a scoreboard. A 20-point lead could easily turn into a 10-point deficit.
About the game
WHO: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Houston Rockets
WHEN: 7:00 PM – Central time
WHERE: FedEx Forum – Memphis, TN
HOW TO WATCH: FoxSports Southeast (or any online stream)
HOW TO LISTEN: ESPN 92.9 – Memphis
BETTING ODDS: Houston (3.5); Over/Under (205)
Follow @BealeStBearsFS for live updates on the game. Don’t miss out on the first meeting of this potential playoff matchup. #WeEnnis