Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Do you believe in the Grizzlies? Agree with that Rudy Gay trade?
Steve Aschburner: No, I’m a mourner of the Grizzlies (which kind of answers the second part of your question). I’m a believer in Lionel Hollins as an exacting coach and snappy dresser. I’m a believer in Marc Gasol, a point forward with a towering chassis. I’m a believer in Zach Randolph‘s career redemption and in Mike Conley‘s grit and Tony Allen‘s channeled lunacy on defense. But I didn’t even like the trade that preceded by eight days the Gay transaction — the one gifting (remember that word from the Pau/Lakers trade?) Marreese Speights & Co. — with a first-round pick to Cleveland. Moving Gay in a “Carrie“-like shocker/second ending after the financial pressure had been alleviated really slammed Memphis’ championship window down hard, in my view. This 8-of-11 and 11-of-15 since the two trades? Squeeze the schedule (especially the winning streak) for a softness check.
Fran Blinebury: It was a good move for the long-term health of the franchise. Rudy is a nice player, whom Michael Heisley vastly overpaid. He can’t carry a team. Still, in the short term, the Grizzlies would have a better chance of advancing if they’d have kept him. But in the end, they were not going to win the West. The guy it hurt most was Lionel Hollins, who has done one helluva job in Memphis, but will take a bum rap now if they flame out in the playoffs.
Jeff Caplan: As someone who wrote that the Grizz should give the Gay-Randolph-Gasol-Conley quartet one last postseason whirl and also wondered out loud if new management will drive lame-duck coach Lionel Hollins out of town, I have to say that the new Grizz remain intriguing. It can’t be ignored that their recent hot streak hasn’t exactly come against a murderer’s row, but they’re picking up road wins and the team is meshing, especially with Tayshaun Prince, who was about as good a fit for that club as anyone. As far as the Rudy Gay trade being bad or good, yeah, I thought it was bad because I wanted to see that group stay together through the postseason. Still, you knew that if Gay wasn’t dealt now that he was a goner in the summer. That core had come so far, was hurt by injuries the last two seasons, and, in my estimation, deserved a shot to get to the West finals together when the finances could have been sorted out this summer.
Scott Howard-Cooper: I’m a believer in the Grizzlies as a good team in the Western Conference but not as a pressing threat to win the West. There’s still a lot to like, mostly the inside game that can harm some team in the playoffs in a bad matchup. Trading away Gay, though, is further setback to a club already struggling for scoring. Dealing him was not the shock. It was dealing him and not addressing the primary need.
John Schuhmann: I believe in them as the fourth best team in the West, but not better than the Spurs, Thunder or Clippers if everybody is healthy. I just don’t think they have enough offense to beat those teams four times in a series. Even over the course of this seven-game winning streak, they rank only 15th offensively. Still, I was fine with the trade, because Gay wasn’t nearly enough of an impact player on either end of the floor for the salary he was being paid. They ranked 21st offensively at the time of the deal and had really regressed since a strong first month. And I would absolutely love a Memphis-Denver, No, 4 vs. No. 5 series in the first round.
Sekou Smith: I’ve always been a big believer in the Grizzlies, even when no else around here was willing to ride the bandwagon with me. They were the “Hang Time Grizzlies” long before they actually became a playoff team and started making real noise. That said, I did not like the Rudy Gay trade when it went down, mostly because I felt like he gave them the ideal swingman needed to compete with the rest of the Western Conference elite. I still believe that and will continue to do so until I see them prove otherwise in the playoffs. But in retrospect, it wasn’t a move that will cripple the franchise or anything outrageous. No player is above being traded at some point in his career. The Lakers trading Shaquille O’Neal was a sobering reminder. Good or bad is always relative.