I know I don’t really write about sports that much, if at all, but the Pau trade to the Lakers gives me an opportunity to talk about one of the other loves of my life…sports.
There are a slew of issues wrapped up in this trade, some that are evident, and some that are under the radar. I’ll try and to touch on all of them as I see them.
Pau is not a Leader
Pau Gasol is a good player, but he has never been the kind of dominant force that you would want to build a team around, despite what the front office pukes would have tried to tell you. He’s good, not great. He will be a great role player behind Kobe in LA. We may or may not have given away the store on this trade, and who really cares with our record? At this point we should be working to further develop the young talent we have now into leaders instead of forcing a reluctant leader into a role for which they are ill suited. I think the Fizz accomplished that.
We traded our soul last year
I had a big problem with the Shane Battier trade last year. Shane may have never put up mad numbers consistently, but he had that intangible leadership ability that made the whole team better. Further, he was a positive force in the community. The city lost a great voice with that trade.
I think he’s done a great job since the trade. We got the rights to Rudy Gay, who I think is poised to be a great leader, someday. I think, under the steady hand of someone like Battier, he would be even better. We’ll never know.
Southwest is Strong
The Southwest division is the strongest division in Pro Basketball, with 4 teams over .500. Every team in the Southwest, with the exception of Memphis, has two players that could either lead or assist in leading any other team in the NBA. Memphis has never had that luxury. Even when we had “Fast break 3” (Jason Williams), and Shane, the streaky Miller (who remains in Memphis), and Gasol it was more of a team effort than one or more people leading the club to victory. That “team” concept can work in the East, where they play a bit slower, more defense-minded ball. In the Southwest, you better bring you’re A game every night.
You can’t buy strength
When the Grizzlies hired Jerry West, it looked like we were on the way to our first playoff win. It never happened. In order for a professional team to be strong, there has to be balanced strength between the front office, the basketball staff, and the players. That never happened. Heisley and West’s insistence on keeping Gasol, damn the consequences led us to where we are today, trading a player, who has had multiple injuries, and is best suited in a support role, for the hope of a better future. This highlights the weakness of the Front Office operation, never mind all the problems we’ve had with coaching since Hubie left. You can’t buy tradition any more than you can buy a strong organization, you have to build it. Until that happens, we can expect little change with the Grizz.
Starting over, is sometimes easier than changing direction
Sometimes it’s just better to start over than trying to fix the problem internally. That’s really what this trade is all about. Gasol was ill-suited to lead the team. This puts Miller, Gay and a new acquisition in the position to take over the reigns and running with it. How well this works out, depends on how well the coaching and front office staff evaluate their strengths and trade or draft to support those strengths. If this trade is a serious attempt to start over then we should applaud it. If it’s just a “punt until next year” then the Grizz will have a lot of empty box seats next year.