Grizzlies waive “Grindson” Jamaal Franklin

Well, that didn’t last long.

Jamaal Franklin, the 41st overall pick in the 2013 draft, was waived on Sunday.

Some fans had conjured images of Kawhi Leonard, but it turns out playing for San Diego State is all they have in common. Dubbed the Grindson, Franklin was lauded for his length and defensive prowess. Fans saw him, and they saw Tony Allen, and assumed, “what the hell”? He’ll be the next TA.

I don’t mean to be too harsh on the guy, he never really got a chance with meaningful minutes. But most of the time, you earn those meaningful minutes. And even in garbage time, he was, well, garbage. Again, I don’t mean to be too hard on him.

I watched a few games of the Orlando Summer League in which the team participated. Franklin rebounded and defended adequately. But his offensive game was a nervous wreck. His shots were uncomfortable, forced, and awkward. Rookies Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes impressed, while Franklin’s inter monologue went something along the lines of, “I’ve got the ball, don’t screw up. Oh shit the shot clock is about to run out. Please, God, get in the basket…not again…”. But, I don’t want to be too harsh.

So cheer up Jamaal, like 95% of Grizzlies that leave go on to do pretty good things. James Posey won a ring in Boston. And Pau in LA. So did Jason Williams in Miami. Even Tony Wroten put up a triple double for Philadelphia last year. Granted, those players could run and pass and shoot without defecating in their pants (Wroten had his share of suspect moments). But, I don’t want to disrespect the man.

In fact, the reason Franklin was waived has to do with Nick Calathes. Or his hairline. On the eve of the playoffs last season, it was announced that Calathes would be suspended for violating the league’s steroid policy. He had come into his own as a backup point guard, and with deceptive size at 6’6″, was succeeding on defense and at attacking the rim. His untimely exit left the Grizz shorthanded as Beno Udrih was thrust into the action. Eventually, Mike Conley’s leg gave out, and game 7 was too tall a task without ZBo, a healthy Conley, or Calathes’ receding hairline. What’s that about his hair?

David Whitley of the Orlando Sentinel says:

“he’s going bald and doesn’t like it. So he took Rogaine or minoxidil or some sort of baldness treatment. It contained tamoxifen, a prescription drug normally used to treat breast cancer. It is one of approximately 140 items on the NBA’s banned list.

For privacy reasons, nobody has publicly said Calathes’ “medical issue” is baldness. But all you have to do is listen to the whispers and take a look at him.

“He’s going bald at 24,” one person said. “Nobody wants to do that.”

Nobody wants the world to know they’re slathering on Rogaine, either.”

 

tumblr_inline_mnts82lSQD1qz4rgp (1)

 

Now, the Grizzlies must fill their roster with a third point guard until Calathes returns, hence Franklin was waived. Beno Udrih resigned with the team earlier this summer, and the wings are crowded with Tony Allen, Courtney Lee, Tayshaun Prince, and now Vince Carter all available. Plus, Quincy Pondexter is returning.

The season needs to get here, because I feel like i’m getting a little critical.

 

-Travis Nauert

Grizzlies fill out coaching staff, front office

It’s early August, the MLB is going, happening, occurring…I guess. Or as Hank Stram would say, matriculating down field, or the calendar. The NFL preseason has begun and College Football starts at the end of the month. Yet, the Grizzlies keep surfacing in sports news.

Through a series of additions and promotions, the front office and coaching staff are set moving forward. A press conference last week announced the following:

Coaching/Development


Jeff Bzdelik is now an assistant coach. He has 17 years of NBA coaching experience, including seven seasons under Pat Riley in both New York and Miami.

Trevor Moawad has been brought on as mental endurance coach. In a Chip Kelly like move, Robert Pera is tapping into a relatively untouched area of the game…Dieting aside, because let’s be honest, Tony Allen needs his Waffle House.

TA WH

You mean you don’t get your best thinking done around 5 in the morning at the nearest Waffle House? The shower? What?

Pera pointed specifically towards Moawad’s ability to help players through shooting slumps and during tough travel schedules. Moawad was most recently with the Florida State and Alabama football programs, winners of the last three national titles.

John Townsend has been named director of player development. He was previously with the Raptors and Trail Blazers as shooting coach, and will focus on shooting with the Grizzlies as well.

Front Office


Chris Wallace’s interim tag has been removed as he re-assumes his role as General Manager. Wallace is clearly a fan favorite, both in media relations and organization operations. He is responsible for bringing Tony Allen to Memphis among other things…like assembling the team as we know it. This was a big step towards fans placing more trust with the owner. Had Pera screwed that one up, there would have been a shit storm of complaints.

Ed Stefanski has become the Executive Vice President of Player Personnel. What the hell does that mean? Anything from scouting players at the college, d-league, and international levels, to scouting other teams and players for potential trades. Stefanski played under Dream Team coach Chuck Daly in college and has worked with the Nets and 76ers. He will be based out of Philadelphia, giving the front office a deployable on the east coast. While this may sound odd, it can be advantageous for reaching certain college games (specifically ACC competition). 

Realistic words from Robert Pera:


“You look at a place like Memphis, we’re not going to be able to build a championship team by going into free agency and getting super stars…we’re going to have to find pieces, we’re going have to become the best team or one of the best teams in the NBA at player development and developing the pieces.”

jackie-moon

It seems long ago that rumors of Mike Miller assuming the Jackie Moon role of player / coach floated around. Or Dave Joerger acting as a meat puppet with a headset and taking orders from the man upstairs. Robert Pera has slowly but surely gained confidence from the fan base, both through personnel and staff moves, and becoming more transparent. His most recent press conference was one of very few public appearances made in Memphis. You must admit, the Twitter Q&A session was absurd, but pretty cool. Granted, it allowed him to pick and choose which questions to answer, and in at most 140 characters, but it’s still a step in the right direction. 

-Travis Nauert

OKC Eliminate Grizz

Game 7

In the end, the league’s MVP rose to the occasion. Faced twice with a game deficit, once at 2-1 and again at 3-2, Kevin Durant willed his team into the Western Conference semifinals.

For the Grizzlies, a season filled with nausea and injury, ecstasy and myocardial infarction has ended. No shame, no regrets. A first round series worthy of the Western Conference Finals concluded after seven games, 4 overtimes, 3 4-point plays, a nationally broadcast Tony Allen defensive clinic, a Nick Calathes suspension, a subsequent Beno Udrih emergence, a Joey Crawford spaz-attack, the least efficient triple double in history courtesy of Russell Westbrook, a wooden hat worn by Mike Conley, a Zach Randolph punch, a subsequent Zach Randolph suspension (not without controversy), and an untimely Mike Conley hamstring injury. Surely I missed something.

photo by Nikki Boertman

photo by Nikki Boertman

Many (outside Memphis) predicted the Thunder in 6 or 7, and the latter was the result. For Grizzlies players and fans, countless what ifs come to mind, specifically regarding games 4 and 6. But as the great philosopher Tony Allen said “if ifs were fifths, we’d all be drunk”.

Today, Kevin Durant was dubbed Most Valuable Player, and in games 6 and 7 he showed why. In games 1-5, however, he was effectively shut down regardless of point totals. He was relegated to a corner decoy, as Westbrook and Reggie Jackson did their best to shoulder the load of creation and instigation.

It’s over, in the past, and time to move on.

Looking to 2014-15

With a full season including an epic playoff series under his belt, Dave Joerger will look to build on a positive first campaign at the helm. When chosen to replace Lionel Hollins, mixed feelings were abound. In truth, much of the protest was not directed towards him, his philosophy, lack of professional head coaching experience, or willingness to embrace analytics. Rather, it was the failure to renew Hollins’ contract after a decade of service to the franchise (dating back to Vancouver), a resume of improving success, and an attitude of I don’t give a damn where you’re from, what you’ve done before, what you’re up against now, finish the job. His mantra goes, “Everyday life throws a knife at you, how do you respond?”

It’s safe to say that mentality was engrained in the heads of Allen, Conley, Gasol, and Randolph, and now lives on through the new regime. Faced with countless obstacles this year, no excuses were made. Even in the face of overwhelming adversity (suspension, injury), the team jumped out to lead the Thunder in game 7. There was simply no gas left in the tank, and not enough fire power in the arsenal.

The outlook is positive for the Grizz, but major questions loom.

Contracts and Personnel

Clearly the biggest question is what will become of Zach Randolph. A player option is on the table for $16.5 million in the upcoming season. He could also opt out of the current contract for a multi-year deal in Memphis or elsewhere. Should he opt out and renegotiate with Memphis at a lower rate, there will be a lot more flexibility to sign a wing scorer which the team desperately lacks as the offense is still prone to snoozing.

Names have been thrown around like Thaddeus Young, Gordon Hayward, Trevor Ariza and others. Ariza and Hayward could demand higher level money, which would eliminate the Grizz as they need to remain below the luxury tax. A player like Hayward, however, fits the mentality of the team, has played well in a small market, and could accept less for a chance at title contention. Thaddeus Young is an interesting option. A New Orleans born turned Memphian (he played high school ball at Mitchell), Young is long and atheltic. He can attack the basket and play above the rim. He would also add to our stable of lefties. Ariza would be best in terms of outside shooting, but has played so well for the Wiz in the playoffs that he may no longer be in reach.

For one of these pieces to be added, of course, someone will have to go. Tayshaun Prince is a likely candidate, if a package/trade partner can be found. Quincy Pondexter could be on the chopping block as well. Despite his heart filled Conference Finals performance two years ago, a season ending injury in addition to a series of exchanges with Dave Joerger during an early season game against Brooklyn could see him voted off the island. James Johnson brought good energy, but was only on a season long contract, and received little to no playing time down the stretch due to his Tony Allen trick or treatish nature.

Beyond wing players, momentum is mounting for the return of Pau Gasol. The chance at redemption (not unlike Battier and Mike Miller) plus an opportunity to play with his brother in a familiar setting is well documented as a logical and attractive outcome for Gasol the elder.

There will be much more written in the coming days, and weeks, especially building towards the lottery and draft. The front office will have new avenues open, and others close depending on how the ping pong balls fall and the conclusion of the playoffs.

Until, then stay cool. It’s heating up outside.

-Travis Nauert

If someone told you…

If someone told you these things following Game 4, which you didn’t see because you live under a rock, what would you say?

  • The two teams combined for 181 points
  • Westbrook and Durant combined for 30 points on 11-45 shooting
  • That 11-45 included just 2-13 from 3
  • The Grizzlies won the turnover battle 13-21
  • The Grizzlies outscored the Thunder in the paint
  • TA, Marc, and Mike Conley all posted double-doubles

Surely, you would think, the Grizzlies won, now lead the series 3-1, and will look to close out the Thunder in OKC. But the basketball gods are of a cruel, rigid, and sleazy variety. They summoned the one, the uncontainable, Reggie Jackson to do their bidding.

It was just another bizarre twist in an already bizarro series. For the first time since 2009 when Boston defeated Chicago (4-3) en route to the NBA Finals, a playoff series saw three consecutive games reach overtime. The Boston series had 4 games go to extra time, including a double OT game 1, won by Chicago in Derrick Rose’s playoff debut, and a triple OT game 6, also won by the Bulls despite Ray Allen’s 51 points. In fact, the Bulls won 3 of the 4 overtime games, but were deemed not worthy by the aforementioned harlots that reign over this great sport. Oh, and that series was a 2 vs 7 matchup as well.

The feeling in my gut is all too similar to that of 2011, when Memphis stole an early game in OKC, came home to win game 3 in overtime, and then dropped a heartbreaking game 4, of course featuring more free basketball. It’s easy to forget how terrible things looked in the second and third quarters last night, and how little business the Grizzlies had being in the game at the end. But that’s why you play all 48 scheduled minutes. And then probably 5 extra minutes. Tony Allen summoned his demigod will power to snag rebounds and ensure that Kevin Durant would not touch the ball down the stretch. Unfortunately, there is only one Tony Allen, while there is also a Kevin Durant and a Reggie Jackson. Westbrook and his 7 turnovers are very fortunate and much appreciated.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Conley kept Memphis in the game, but OKC finally prevailed, ending a franchise record 15 game home win streak.

Jackson scored 32 points in 37 minutes off the bench, while most of the Grizzlies guards and reserves spent the night snoozing. Conley roused late with some key drives and steals, but is now just 2-20 from three in the series. 2-20. 10%. That has to improve if Memphis is going to win two of the next three games. So does free throw shooting, but that’s a perpetual goal of any basketball player in the Memphis city limits: grade school, high school, college, professional, church-league. They all need help. Dare I suggest granny style?

An opportunity was lost, but games 2 and 3 showed the mental toughness this team possesses. OKC knew going down 3-1 was essentially a death sentence, and they responded with the same poise that Memphis did after blowing a lead.

Here’s some fuzzy math. Memphian diets (a function of appetite, and fried chicken + barbeque available per square mile) + Grizzlies playoff basketball = decreasing future life expectancies. This is wearing me out. I’ll leave you with another ode to Hunter S. Thompson via Ralph Steadman. This is how I suggest you watch the remaining games. Jesus! It’s for your health man!

Ralph Steadman

Ralph Steadman

-Travis Nauert

Keeping things light in the post season

Any team in the playoffs sees a significant increase in media attention, but there’s just something about the way the Grizzlies do it.

From wild outfits, to enormous amounts of sass, to your average press conference entertainment, here’s a look at the fantastic media coverage of the Grizzlies/Thunder series. It’s a clown show, really.

Russell Westbrook wasn’t aware of the Grindhouse.

In an interview with Jarvis Greer of Action News 5, Russell Westbook refused to accept the FedEx Forum’s beloved nickname. He interrupted Greer after her referred to the Grindhouse, insisting that the gorgeous arena be known exclusively by its sponsor-given name. Here’s how it went down according to the Commercial Appeal:

He was responding to a question from one of Memphis’s longest-tenured TV sports anchors, Jarvis Greer, that went like this: “Your road record is one of the best in the NBA but talk a little bit specifically about playing here in the Grindhouse against this team.”

Westbrook gave Greer a bit of a quizzical look and said, “You said the FedExForum? That’s the name of the arena, right?”

To which, Greer answered in the affirmative. Then Westbrook continued: “Uh, playing at the, uh, FedExForum , it’s a good arena, the fans are loud and they cheer on their team and we just gotta come in and play our game.”

 

A little tense, Russell?

Russell-Westbrook-Returns-To-Practice.

Trick or Treat

Tony Allen is currently OWNING the leading scorer in the NBA, Kevin Durant, so you know he’s having one heck of a week. His dominance in this series with OKC has earned him quite a bit of time in the media, and I must say he has composed himself pretty well so far. I’m so proud. But the rest of the nation is getting just a taste of what Grizz Nation already knows. You know you’re special when you have more than one unforgettable nickname.

I can answer that for you, Bill- Tony Allen- *Future Voice*

 

That time Kendrick Perkins sat on Mike Miller

Hey, Kendrick Perkins, take a seat. Wait, no, not there.

On thursday night, Perkins decided to stop time, if just for a moment, and take in the glory of Grizz Nation. On top of Mike Miller. Hilarity ensues.

 

(SB Nation)

(SB Nation)

 

 

(SB Nation)

(SB Nation)

 

Things get a little weird afterhours in the Forum

If you’ve been to a Grizzlies game you know about Super Grizz, the Grannies and Grandpas and the leaping Elvis impersonators. If you haven’t been to the FedEx Forum… well, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog.

 

And I don’t even know what to say about this:

Please say this was a joke. Please say this was a joke.

 

It’s a slippery slope, Mike. Turn back while you still can!!

(businessinsider.com)

(businessinsider.com)

 

As we all prepare ourselves for the game tonight, I want to leave you with one image. It’s an oldie but a goodie courtesy of Zach Randolph. I just couldn’t end this post without mentioning Z-Bo.

 

One love, Grizz Nation.

 

-Casey Black

Just that Classic Grit n Grind OT

Moments after defeating the Mavs in overtime in that last regular season game, midway through a well-deserved celebration for dodging the Spurs, I realized what situation we had put ourselves in. The Grizzlies would be facing OKC, a true juggernaut- a team with one of the best benches in the league, a team that matched up with use at every position.

Oh, and the team with the best scorer in the league.

And they have Westbrook this time. Westbrook’s injury added an asterisk to the end of our 2013 Playoff victories against OKC, always reminding us that sure we beat them, but we beat them while they were down. Well, it looks like those days might just be behind us.

I knew this time would be entirely different, but I didn’t anticipate this. We’re up 2-1 on the series with two overtime victories and we’ve still got one game at home before heading back to OKC.

IMG_8944

It seems that we’ve kind of figured them out. The keys to defeating a powerful offense like the Thunder sound something like this:

o   Keep them out of the paint

o   Force them to shoot tough, mid-range jumpers

o   Contest their threes

o   Force turnovers and capitalize on them

That’s the only way to beat the Thunder, and after Game 3, you can put a check mark by each one. It was our second overtime game in a row. It’s not the easy way to do it, but no one ever said grit n grind was the easy way.

Tony Allen is doing what he does best. He’s effectively stopping Kevin Durant in a way no other defender can. Sure Durant is still scoring 30+ points as ESPN likes to remind us daily, but he’s taking more shots than ever to get that done. I feel like this series is a waiting game- we’re all just waiting for Durant to go off. As I sit here and write this post, I’ve already seen Durant on two commercials in five minutes. Its like the basketball gods are dangling him in front of me, hinting at the inevitable.

Much of our success is likely due to Joerger’s exquisite coaching. He’s schemed the team perfectly, and the game plan is spot on- force Durant and Westbrook to take the tough jumpshots. Credit should be given to Tony Allen and Courtney Lee for being the ones to contest those jump shots. Tony Allen is the thorn in Durant’s side right now, and simply put, its hilarious. It never gets old.

(Photo Cred: Jason Smith's Twitter)

(Photo Cred: Jason Smith’s Twitter)

Tony has definitely earned those podium interviews.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking forward to Game 4, nothing should change. It will never be easy, but we have a huge advantage in the FedEx Forum. Russell Westbrook may not have been familiar with the Grindhouse, but the boys definitely gave him the full tour on Thursday night. That’s the great thing about the Grizzlies- they don’t expect to be respected. They earn respect by playing hard every night and giving Memphis something to Believe in. And I Believe tonight’s going to be a good night.

IMG_0813OKC @ Memphis

9:30 pm (ET)

ESPN

 

-Casey Black

Fear and Loathing in OKC

He chuckled. “As your attorney,” he said, “I advise you not worry.” He nodded toward the bathroom. “Take a hit out of that little brown bottle in my shaving kit.”

   “What is it?” 

   “Adrenochrome,” he said. “You won’t need much. Just a little tinytaste.”

   I got the bottle and dipped the head of a paper match into it.

   “That’s about right,” he said. “That stuff makes pure mescaline seem like ginger beer. You’ll go completely crazy if you take too much.”

…My body felt like I’d just been wired into a 220 volt socket.


   It was after midnight when I finally was able to talk and move around . . . but I was still not free of the drug; the voltage had merely been cranked down from 220 to 110. I was a babbling nervous wreck, flapping around the room like a wild animal, pouring sweat and unable to concentrate on any one thought for more than two or three seconds at a time.

-Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

 

Hopefully, you’ve read that book, or at least seen the movie. But even if you haven’t, I’ll take it that you can sympathize with why these lines came to mind after Monday night’s game 2 between the Grizz and Thunder. As midnight passed, I struggled to hit my REM cycle with an exam approaching in just over 12 hours. I was jacked up on adrenochrome. Ok, it was just regular naturally secreted adrenaline, but a deluge had flooded my bloodstream.

It’s likely that some residual pain from the 3 OT loss will always linger, but for now, most of it has dissipated. Just as Mike Conley and Greivis Vasquez connected on desperation heaves forcing extra time in that classic three years ago, last night Kevin Durant and Kendrick Perkins added to the archive of highlights which exemplify the ongoing roshambo that is the Grizzlies-Thunder rivalry. The unfortunate nature of those specific highlights, for Memphis fans in 2011 and now Oklahoma City fans in 2014, is that they came in losing efforts.

Up 5 with under 30 seconds remaining, a glimpse of light shone on the Grizzlies as they had seemingly done enough to split on the road and head home with the series tied 1-1. Then Kevin Durant happened.  A near Tony Allen steal turned into a freak 4 point play as Marc Gasol hip checked KD, who simultaneously saved a dangerous Westbrook pass (Westbrook out of control, no way?) and launched a shot from the corner as he fell into court-side seating. It was the only thing, aside from choking at the foul line, which Memphians know too much about, that could have kept OKC alive. And it did.

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

On the last play of regulation, after a split pair of Conley free throws, Westbrook bombed a potential game winning three, but it hit the front iron and bounced far side into the hands of the bumbling Kendrick Perkins. K-Perk put the ball off the glass for his first and only shot attempt of the game. The ball travelled the circumference of the rim as if by habit, confused by the accuracy of his placement and expecting to finagle its way out of the basket. Eventually, it dropped through the net and on the game went to extra time, tied at 99.

Not to worry. Zach went ham, as in hamburglar, taking what was rightfully his in overtime and outscoring the Thunder by himself 8-6. The Grizz went up for good with 26 seconds remaining as TA dropped a sly dish to ZBo on the left post that he finished calmly.

(Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

There were many noteworthy contributions. Mike Miller’s three late in regulation off a Conley assist regained a briefly squandered lead. Beno Udrih’s 14 points came on 6-8 shooting. The latter sparked a series of puns including Geoff Calkins’ claim that Beno gave Memphis “a shot of Udrihnaline”, especially appropriate for this post. Courtney Lee had a quiet 16 points, if there ever were such a thing for this frequently offensively challenged team. Despite feeling the force of Serge Ibaka’s league leading shot blocking ability, Ed Davis provided a quick burst of energy with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in 9 minutes.

And then there was The Grindfather. 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals fail to measure his effect on the game and importance to the team. Throughout, and especially down the stretch, TA made OKC players and fans wildly uncomfortable. Whether through face guarding, fronting, or denying the passing lane, Tony did it all. He would even switch off Durant and onto Westbrook in the same possession, effectively blowing the Thunder’s mind and dropping a TA bomb on their offensive sets. It was vintage Tony Allen. Enjoy:

Ok, so his poise and decisiveness on the fast break and offensive end wasn’t necessarily vintage, but it was brilliant.

The emotion that followed the final buzzer was one part relief, one part elation, and two parts I need new underwear. The win shifts home court advantage in Memphis’ favor as the series moves to the Grindhouse for games 3 & 4. The Grizz look to extend a franchise record 14 game home win streak.

Last night saw some milestones reached as well, with Memphis donning Beale Street Blue for the first time in playoff history. Also, Coach Joerger earned his first playoff victory. Congrats, Coach. Joerger-bombs for everyone!

 

-Travis Nauert