Posts Tagged ‘Justin Timberlake’

Gay’s Gone, But Hollins Should Stay

HANG TIME, Texas — Yes, it was about the money.

The Grizzlies had given far too much of it to Rudy Gay, a guy who was sitting on the sidelines nursing a bad shoulder when they scratched out the only playoff series win in franchise history.

That’s not to say that Gay hasn’t been a nice player during his six-plus seasons in the NBA; the kind who could often fill up the basket and make it look easy.

But that was the trouble. The Grizzlies have carved out their place, if tenuous, in the upper half of the Western Conference. Like Tina Turner and her band: they never, ever do anything nice and easy.

Gay has been barely shooting 40 percent from the field this season, checking it at a myopic 31 percent from 3-point range. For a player taking such a big bite out of the payroll, Gay too often seemed to drift, which was the rap as far back as 2006 when he was drafted eighth overall out of UConn.

Now the Grizzlies get veteran Tayshaun Prince, who can knock down the 3s, play solid defense and do all of the dirty work/little things, if he’s still so inclined at 32. They also get Ed Davis’ ability to finish at the rim and a couple of contracts that are far more palatable.

In short, the Grizzlies saved themselves a bundle and in a roll-of-the-dice way may have gotten some answers for a team whose chances to reach the NBA Finals this season were probably closer to a scratch-off lottery ticket than money in the bank.

Now the question is whether they’ll do the right thing by coach Lionel Hollins, who’s been allowed to quack like a lame duck without a new contract all season.

While the new ownership group (which is led by Robert Pera and celebrity pals Justin Timberlake and Peyton Manning) and the management team (which includes stat guru John Hollinger) are clearly making their mark on the operation, it is Hollins who has already placed his stamp on the Grizzlies.

Yes, he’s often cranky and challenging. But those are the same attributes that describe the Grizzlies when they’re at their best. A lot of coaches talk about professionalism and accountability, Hollins demands it. He learned during his playing career from championship teams in Portland and Philadelphia that sacrifice and teamwork are not just to be valued, but expected.

Much was made of Hollins recent statement when he said: “We get hung up on statistics a little too much, and I think that’s a bad trait all over the league.”

Was it a shot at Hollinger and the new regime? Or simply Hollins being Hollins? Likely a little bit of both.

In the four years since Hollins has been on the Grizzlies bench, he has pushed, prodded, cajoled, driven and turned the quaint little franchise in the league’s smallest market that had never won a single playoff game into a “Grind House” team which Memphis could support. He did it by making the Grizzlies a reflection of his own personality, often flinty and contrarian.

This is Hollins’ team, even if they change pieces, because they share his DNA. You can’t have the “Grind House” without the head grinder.

Grizzlies Deserve Shot To Stay Together


DALLAS — To quote Memphis Grizzlies defensive bulldog Tony Allen Saturday night: “This is the year.”

The Grizzlies love the makeup of their grizzled, veteran team and their chances to contend for the whole enchilada. And with a new ownership group in place led by young tech billionaire Robert Pera and flanked by glimmering, star-power partners like Justin Timberlake and Peyton Manning, again, to quote Allen: “The sky’s the limit for this team.”

At least it should be. Yet here we sit, still five weeks removed from the trade deadline and uncertainty is swallowing the Grizzlies whole, an inconvenient and unspoken truth (at least as a team) that at any moment the financial hammer can come crashing down on the this team.

Rumors persist that Memphis is shopping its highest-priced assets. Rudy Gay (owed $37.2 million over the next two seasons), Marc Gasol (owed $30.1 million over the next two seasons) and Zach Randolph (owed $34.3 million over the next two seasons), the roots of the Grizzlies’ four-year rise from obscurity, are all twisting in the trade winds as potential sell-offs to lessen the franchise’s financial burden under the new and less-forgiving collective-bargaining agreement.

“That’s what happens when you get new owners,” said Randolph, who plans to reside in Memphis during the offseasons even if he’s traded. “Mr. [Michael] Heisley (the Grizzlies’ previous owner), he had a vision of keeping us all together. He took care of all of us to build a team and try to win a championship. Now the new owner probably wants to do something different. But it’s a business.”

Even coach Lionel Hollins, the most successful coach in Grizzlies history, waits on an extension in the final season of his contract.

“Hopefully I’ll have this team the whole year, and if I don’t, I’ll coach other guys,” Hollins said. “If they don’t give me an extension, then I’ll decide what I’m going to do. I think our team has done well growing as a group each year and developing to the point this year where I feel we’re a legitimate contender. We’ve [been able] to play with [everybody] out of the top teams. That’s usually when you’re trying to get there, you win a lot of games, but you don’t do well against the contenders. You might win one or two, but we’ve been able to compete with every last one of them.”

The Grizzlies dropped to 24-11 Saturday night after never getting in gear against the struggling Dallas Mavericks one  night after securing a rugged overtime home win against the San Antonio Spurs. The Mavs, 104-83 winners, led by 18 in the first half and by 30 in the third quarter as the Grizzlies were gassed and never made a run.

Prior to the game, the Grizzlies, to a man, said they don’t discuss trade rumors in the locker room, on the team bus or anywhere.

“If we discuss it that means you think about it,” said Gay, the team’s leading scorer and its longest-tenured player now in his seventh season. “I’m not going to try to think about it. I’m just trying to win games.”

It’s the big secret that isn’t, the topic they don’t want to talk about, but will be asked of them at every stop.

“It’s tough knowing that this team has done so well and we’re having to go through trade rumors,” said point guard Mike Conley, whose under contract for another three seasons at a reasonable $26.1 million. “With the new CBA and all that, we were hoping we wouldn’t have to be in this situation. Here we are, all these rumors and speculation of what might happen, what could happen in the next few weeks until the trade deadline.

“I think it’s been kind of nice that guys haven’t it let it affect them. It can easily affect a team, but this team has done a great job of throwing it aside, saying we can’t control it and just go about our business.”

It wasn’t long ago when Marc’s brother, Pau Gasol, led the Grizzlies’ first three-season playoff surge after the move from Vancouver. Those games were played at a half-empty FedEx Forum. Memphis has made substantial strides in attendance from ranking 28th in the league in 2009-10 and averaging 13,485 a game, and routinely being outdrawn by the city’s first love, the Memphis Tigers who share the arena.

Through 18 home dates this season, the Grizzlies, 14-4 on their home floor, rank 18th in attendance, averaging 16,529.

The franchise’s new ownership group owes it to their growing number of fans, to the players that have grown together to become a contender and to Hollins, who has overseen the process, to stick with the program through this season.

“I think we’re one of the most well-rounded teams in the league,” Gay said. “I don’t think there’s a letdown at any position.”

After whatever happens in the postseason, then re-assess and re-package to fit a new financial model in the summer.

“I feel like we got the whole package,” said Randolph, who is having an All-Star-type season averaging 16.9 points and 12.0 rebounds. “Rudy on the wing, me and Marc down low, we got Mike Conley stepping up and playing great ball, we got T.A. [Allen], our defensive leader, so our starting five is as solid as any starting five in the league.

“You want to see us together because we’ve come a long way.”

No other contender in either conference faces such roster uncertainty at mid-season. It’s unfair, and if a shakeup occurs before the Feb. 21 trade deadline, there will be no excuse to feed the fans, and perhaps no way of ever knowing if this is indeed the year.

“That’s the NBA and one thing about that is anything can happen,” Gay said. “Other people are going to have different plans. You just have to take advantage of the time you have.”

Owners Approve Grizzlies Sale

The orderly and extended transition from David Stern to Adam Silver as NBA commissioner over the next 15 months rightly dominated the news coming out of the league’s Board of Governors meeting Thursday. But that wasn’t the only topic discussed and dealt with by the owners.

They also unanimously approved the sale of the Memphis Grizzlies to an ownership group headed by investor Robert Pera and including widely known minority partners such as Peyton and Ashley Manning, entertainer Justin Timberlake and former NBA players Penny Hardaway and Elliot Perry. The group has a number of people with Memphis roots.

“I actually know that someone that lives in Memphis is called a Memphian,” Stern said, “and I am looking forward to this Memphian who is going to connect this team in an even stronger way to the community.”

San Antonio Spurs CEO Peter Holt is the new BOG chairman, taking over for Minnesota owner Glen Taylor, who had served in that role since 2008. “We are being nice to David, but I want to be extra nice to Glen,” Holt said. “This has gone really smoothly. Glen has stayed in the chairmanship much longer than normal to allow the continuity to be smooth from obviously David to Adam, but also throughout the ownership group.  So I want to thank Glen for that.”

A discussion on accepting ads in the form of jersey patches as another revenue stream was pushed to the BOG’s next meeting.


Memphis Bid, Jersey Ads Get BOG Review


A star-studded group of investors — including NFL quarterback Peyton Manning and his wife Ashley, entertainer Justin Timberlake and former NBA players Penny Hardaway and Elliot Perry — could be approved to purchase the Memphis Grizzlies at the NBA’s Board of Governors two-day meeting today and Thursday in Manhattan.

And with the league’s other 29 owners, they could find themselves with a new revenue stream in the form of jersey-patch ads.

The Memphis sale and a report from the NBA’s planning committee on the pros and cons of placing ads on jerseys are two of the items believed to be on the BOG agenda. Though the actual list of topics isn’t made public, other items may include:

  • Reports on revenue sharing and collective bargaining.
  • Arena news, including the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn and improvements to Madison Square Garden in New York.
  • Discussion of rule changes via the competition committee, including flopping and other referee points-of-emphasis.
  • Updates on ticket sales, network contracts and sponsorships.
  • Review of the NBA China program and preseason games played internationally this fall.

The status of the Sacramento Kings’ arena deal and possible relocation is not believed to be among the scheduled topics, nor is any formal discussion of efforts in Seattle to gain an existing or expansion franchise.

A Los Angeles investor, Steve Kaplan, has joined the Grizzlies purchase group headed by Robert Pera, according to a story Tuesday in the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. Kaplan was involved with current Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley’s unsuccessful attempt to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, the paper reported.

Any move to put ads on players’ jerseys -– common practice in international play and even in the WNBA -– would not come at NBA commissioner David Stern’s urging. Neither would it happen, though, over his objections.

Stern told reporters during the Boston Celtics’ stop in Milan earlier this month that he would rather not see the sponsors’ patches on uniforms. “As a personal matter, I am not in favor of it, but I’m not standing in the way of it,” Stern said. “If my board wants to do it, we’ll do it.”