Posts Tagged ‘Memphis’

Grizzlies To Match Offer On Gasol

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Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley told TNT’s David Aldridge on Sunday afternoon that the Grizzlies would match the four-year, $55 million offer sheet the Houston Rockets have reportedly prepared for restricted free agent center Marc Gasol, considered the top big man in free agency this offseason. Under the new rules in the new collective bargaining agreement, the Grizzlies would have three days from the time they officially receive the offer sheet to either match it or decline to match.

Heisley said that the Grizzlies had not yet received an offer sheet on Gasol’s behalf from the Rockets on Sunday evening, but had been in contact with Gasol’s agent, Arn Tellem. Memphis has already offered Gasol a long-term contract that Heisley said was worth more than the offer sheet amount, which was reported by Yahoo! Sports. In either case, Gasol is going to remain in Memphis.

“We’re keeping Marc,” Heisley said. “We can’t afford to let him go … Marc and his agent have to decide what they want to do. But we would definitely match that if that came up to us.”

Houston gambled that the Grizzlies, who already have committed to huge contracts for forwards Rudy Gay ($82 million) and Zach Randolph ($71 million), along with guard Mike Conley ($45 million), wouldn’t have the stomach to make yet another major financial commitment. But the Grizzlies, who upset the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs last season, have indicated that going forward they’ll aggressively try to keep their new core together. (The Indianapolis Star did report Sunday that the Pacers may be trying to revist talks with Memphis on a deal that would send forward Josh McRoberts to the Grizzlies for guard O.J. Mayo. The two sides almost completed that trade before last February’s trade deadline, but the deal collapsed at the last minute, with each side accusing the other of backing out.)

The Rockets are in desperate need of finding a quality big man going into the season. They thought they had Marc Gasol’s brother–the Lakers’ Pau Gasol–in the three-team trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. But that trade fell through Saturday night, and the Lakers sent Odom to the Dallas Mavericks for a 2012 first-round pick. Houston has also been looking at free agent center Nene.
Marc Gasol, who was a key part of the trade in 2008 that sent his older brother from Memphis to Los Angeles, became one of the game’s top young centers this past season, losing and keeping weight off and staying on the court. In the playoffs, his averages swelled to 15 points and 11.2 points per game, shooting 51 percent from the floor.

NBA success cost Rose campus life

DEERFIELD, Ill. – In some alternate reality for Derrick Rose and his family, they all would have spent Mother’s Day at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, though it would have had nothing to do with the Grizzlies or an NBA game.

Had Rose not submitted his name for the NBA Draft after his freshman year at the University of Memphis — or after his sophomore or junior years, either — he might have been wearing a cap and gown with his college friends, graduating with the rest of the Class of 2011. His brothers Dwayne, Reggie and Allan would have been there for him, sure, but the day would have meant the most to his mother Brenda.

Rose’s quick ascendancy to NBA stardom makes it easy to forget that he would have been wrapping up his college experience right now, rather than leading the Chicago Bulls deep into the 2011 playoffs at the end of his third professional season. Earlier this month, Rose became not only the youngest NBA Most Valuable Player in history but the first to win the award before his college class graduated.

Rose’s actual college stay was brief and marred at the end by controversy; questions about Rose’s eligibility related to SAT test scores prompted the NCAA to vacate Memphis’ 2007-08 men’s basketball season and trip to the championship game. But his taste of campus life, major undecided, made him a little wistful when asked about it the other day.

“I miss it,” Rose said. “I definitely miss the college atmosphere. Just walking through campus. I miss it a lot. I swear, I miss it.”


Grit and grind one more time?

MEMPHIS — The Thunder beat up the Grizzlies and then the Grizzlies beat up themselves.

“We got embarrassed,” said Mike Conley.

“We didn’t have it,” said Shane Battier. “The ubiquitous ‘it.’ Whatever ‘it’ is, we didn’t have it.”

So it’s been a fun ride, but now the Grizzlies are at the edge of the cliff.

That’s how everyone sees it.

Everyone, that is, except the Grizzlies.

“The series is not over,” said Memphis coach Lionel Hollins. “I’m sure a lot of you guys are writing about it being over. I still believe in my team. I’m sure we’ll come back and regroup … and be ready.”

“He says this is where we find out who we are,” said Conley. “Find out the kind of people we are. What kind of players we are. Because you don’t know until your back is against the wall, and everything is up for grabs. This will be a good test for us.”

The Grizzlies, down 3-2 in the best-of-seven, will have to be ready for Game 6 on Friday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN) with much more enthusiasm and energy than they could summon for Game 5. Whether it was the product of a physical and emotional hangover from the triple-overtime Game 4 or a surge in confidence by the Thunder, for the first time in the series there was a clear difference between the two teams.

The Grizzlies insist that it’s not the Thunder defense that’s been the difference, but their own lack of aggressiveness at going to the basket and finishing. They missed 18 layups in Game 5

“We missed shots. I don’t think it’s nothing special they’re doing,” said Zach Randolph, who has shot just 22-for-69 in the last four games.

Through the first four games, the Grizzlies had actually outscored the Thunder by two cumulative points and dominated OKC on the offensive glass. But Game 5 was a complete collapse. Now the Grizzlies face the challenge of proving that they belong for the first time since the playoffs began a month ago.


Can Thunder, Grizzlies top that?

OKLAHOMA CITY — Every player in the Thunder locker room is weary.

The Lakers and Spurs are out.

Every last man on the Grizzlies roster is exhausted.

The Magic and Knicks are gone.

Go ahead. Try to tell us what’s going to happen next.

Conventional wisdom, not to mention statistics provided by Elias Sports Bureau, says Oklahoma City is now in control. In series tied at 2-2, the team that won Game 4 prevailed 73.9 percent of the time in the past.

But what does that past have to do with the Thunder blowing a 16-point lead in the third quarter of Game 3 and losing to the Grizzlies in overtime? What does the past have to do with the Grizzlies blowing an 18-point lead in the first half and coming back from being 10 points down with five minutes left in regulation of Game 4? What does the past have anything to do with all of the insanity that happened through three mind-bending overtimes?

“I’ve kind of always felt like momentum isn’t a real thing. It’s not a tangible thing,” Thunder forward Nick Collison said. “I think the way this series has gone, you just have to come out and play each game.

“We’ve played great and we’ve played terrible in this series at different times. So we know that we’re capable of winning and we’re capable of dropping a game. Our mindset is we have to be ready to play in Game 5. I’m sure theirs is the same way. The stuff that happened in the past isn’t going to matter.”

If this is a so-called chess match, then the grand masters on the benches are out of moves. Lionel Hollins went small with his Grizzlies. Scott Brooks went small with his Thunder. Hollins went big. Brooks went big. In Game 4, they went until just short of 1 a.m. in what practically became an all-night pick-up game.


Grizzlies reach out to flood victims

MEMPHIS — With the Mississippi River expected to reach its highest level in more than 70 years on Monday night and evacuations taking place in some areas of the community due to flooding, the Memphis Grizzlies were reaching out to help while in the midst of their conference semifinal playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Coach Lionel Hollins taped a public service announcement for local TV following the team’s morning shootaround prior to Game 4, asking for donations to help those displaced. The team was also soliciting donations for the Red Cross inside the FedExForum and will continue to do so at every home game throughout the playoffs.

For those who have already been displaced by the flooding, the Grizzlies arranged for watch parties at three shelters in locations around Shelby County. Elite Media provided video screens for fans to watch Game 4 and the Grizzlies provided barbecue dinners.

Opportunity knocks for Thunder, Grizz

MEMPHIS — The splat, of course, was the Lakers dynasty hitting the pavement like a watermelon that had been tossed off a roof.

But what followed – whoosh! – was the fresh sound of opportunity blowing through the window that’s been thrown wide open now in the Western Conference playoff bracket.

Let’s face it. As long as Kobe Bryant and his dysfunctional Lakers family were still breathing — even on life-support — that possibility of a “three-peat” carried a lot of weight.

But now that the Mavericks have put the two-time champs out of their misery, anything is possible.

“The future is now” has always been a nice slogan for a bumper sticker, but it’s never been truer than right now in the NBA.

Are you ready for the 2011 NBA champion Thunder? Or Grizzlies?


The best series: Grizzlies-Thunder?

MEMPHIS – Let’s face it. The Celtics were supposed to give off the scent of veterans making one last prideful stand, not formaldehyde. The Lakers were supposed to be carrying the aroma of two-time champions, not the stink of disarray. The Bulls, for all of Derrick Rose’s brilliance, have the whiff of confusion.

Which means that if you’re sniffing around for the best current playoff series, it’s all about the Grizzlies and Thunder. Despite the fact that they represent the 41st and 44th largest metropolitan areas respectively in the nation, there is nothing small-time about this series that is tied 1-1 heading into Game 3 on Saturday and could go the limit.

There was nothing at all small-time about the way the Grizzlies took the floor in Oklahoma City for the opener and did everything but smack the Thunder in the mouth to deliver a message. And there was nothing small-time about the heavy-duty pick that Kendrick Perkins laid on Tony Allen 14 seconds into Game 2 to send a message right back.

With the likes of Kevin Durant, Zach Randolph, Russell Westbrook, Mike Conley, James Harden and Marc Gasol in the middle of it all, there is no shortage of players capable of making big-time plays.

With general manager Sam Presti constantly pushing the buttons to upgrade the Thunder talent and with 20-point-a-game scorer Rudy Gay preparing to return to the Grizzlies’ lineup next season, there is no reason to think this is a one-time thing.

The Thunder have been viewed as the team-of-the-not-too-distant future since they threw a scare into the Lakers a year ago in the first round of the playoffs.

Now it’s the Grizzlies who have opened eyes with their second-half surge this season and bouncing of the No. 1-seeded Spurs in the first round.

“We’re for real,” Randolph said. “That’s the reason I wanted to sign a new contract to stay in Memphis, because we are building a team that can contend for a championship. When we get Marc re-signed to a new contract, we’ll be that much closer to our goal, to contend every year.”

Fact is, those goals might be closer right now than anyone anticipated just a couple of weeks ago. Which is why it would be a mistake to focus only on the big markets of L.A., Boston and Chicago.

“We’re gettin’ at it here,” said the Grizzlies Tony Allen.

So pay attention if you don’t want to miss the best playoff series going right now.

Memphis-OKC: Small markets, big game

OKLAHOMA CITY — They know how the outside world will view them, as the annoying little brother, the other guys.

The Lakers vs. Mavs will have Kobe vs. Dirk, a pair of individual virtuosos and offensive machines who can melt scoreboards with their point production, not to mention Phil Jackson vs. Mark Cuban, who’ve both been known to intentionally start fires.

The Bulls vs. Hawks will have the continued ascension – and possibly the official coronation – of Derrick Rose into the realm of the elite as the youngest MVP in history and youngest player ever to make the entire horde of TV analysts run out of adjectives.

The Heat vs. Celtics will, of course, have enough breathless conversation to suck the air right out of the room.

Then there’s Grizzlies vs. Thunder. Oh yeah, them. No. 4 vs. No. 8 in the Western Conference, a matchup between two of the smallest markets in the NBA who’ll be lucky if anyone even notices they’re playing.

That is, until the ball goes up. Don’t make the mistake of grabbing the remote and changing the channel.

“I hope that people appreciate teams that play hard and play well together,” said the Grizzlies’ Shane Battier. “We may not have a whole lot of marquee names. But both Oklahoma and our team play very well together, play hard, play the right way. If you’re a basketball fan you should enjoy this series.”


Spurs’ hope: The return of Parker

MEMPHIS – There was much for the Spurs to celebrate in the way Game 5 ended, not the least of which were the five wild points they scored in the last 2.2 seconds of the fourth quarter that forced overtime and led to their victory.

First, Manu Ginobili hit his improbable shot from right in front of the San Antonio bench, when he admittedly could not even see the rim. Then there was rookie Gary Neal’s 25-footer that settled into the net as time expired.

But those were fleeting moments. If there is a larger reason for the Spurs to be jubilant and hopeful, it was the return of Tony Parker to being his typically effective self.


Remember the Alam-oh-no! Again.

SAN ANTONIO – The last time it was Mario Chalmers. This time it was Gary Neal.

What is it about the Alamo City that leaves basketball teams from Memphis feeling like they’ve just been visited by Santa Anna’s army?

It was the 2008 NCAA championship game just up the road when Chalmers hit a high, arcing jumper for Kansas that forced overtime and eventually sent the Memphis Tigers to defeat.

This time it was Neal, the undrafted, 26-year-old rookie who buried the shot that sent Game 5 into overtime and saved the Spurs from an early grave.

In 2008, Derrick Rose made the mistake of missing free throws that held the door open for Kansas.

On Wednesday night, Zach Randolph made the mistake of putting a finger to his lips to tell the San Antonio crowd it was over when it wasn’t after he hit a step-back jumper with 13.8 seconds left to play.

Oh, there were lessons to be learned by the young Grizzlies.

When the Spurs inbounded the ball with 1.7 seconds remaining on the fourth quarter clock, the Grizzlies ignored coach Lionel Hollins’ instructions and none of them came out to guard the 3-point line.

When Neal’s shot went in and the game went to overtime, none of the Grizzlies had the fire within to keep competing.

“I think that we were down after the loss of the lead when they tied it up at the end,” Hollins said. “We had too many guys that were hurt and not mature enough at this stage to just let it go.”

Sometimes, this is how a series can turn. This is how history gets made. One play, one shot, one moment that slips through your grasp.

Now the Grizzlies have to let it go. They have to shake off the uppercut that floored them in time for Game 6. They can’t simply rely on the crowd that will be packed inside FedEx Forum to lift their spirits. They’ve got to go back to being the aggressive, hungry, attacking bunch that keeps on playing all the way to the end.

Or else it’s back to San Antonio, where the ghosts of Memphis basketball will be waiting.