Memphis Grizzlies Will Give Away Flip-Flops vs. Los Angeles Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers are known around the league for flopping, with superstars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin the most notable offenders. 

So when the Clippers come to Memphis on Feb. 27, 2015, the Grizzlies will have a special treat for fans. 

According to the team, Grizzlies Flip-Flops will be handed out to the first 5,000 fans to show up to FedEx Forum on that Friday night. 

This isn’t just a promotion on a whim; this goes back to the face-offs of the 2012 and 2013 Western Conference Playoffs, where each team took a series win. During these playoff series, a rivalry was born with the Grizzlies constantly frustrated with the Clippers’ flopping tactics

It seems the Grizzlies have some ground to stand on, as we’ve found plenty of evidence to support the Clippers’ love of flopping.

Chris Paul deserves an Oscar for this one: 

For a man who weighs about 250 lbs, Blake Griffin goes down quite easily here: 

So good on you Grizzlies; way to have a great sense of humor.  

[YouTube, ProBasketballTalk]

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Can Michael Beasley Carve out a Real Role with the Memphis Grizzlies?

The Memphis Grizzlies need a lot of the things Michael Beasley brings inside the lines.

The former No. 2 pick has a steady scoring touch, a brimming bag of offensive tricks and the ability to stretch the floor from either forward spot. If everything goes according to plan, he could find his niche as a microwave scorer on the second team or maybe even something more substantial.

Of course, nothing ever seems to follow the script when it comes to Beasley. If it did, he might be in the middle of a long, lucrative contract right now instead of clinging to the life preserver Memphis tossed him Tuesday, as Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported:

Free-agent forward Michael Beasley has agreed to join the Memphis Grizzlies in training camp on a non-guaranteed contract, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Beasley spent several days working out for the Grizzlies this week and chose that offer because of an opportunity to make the roster as a backup power forward.

To land a player with Beasley’s talent on a non-guaranteed deal should be grand larceny.

Yet, his track record keeps the basketball world from seeing it as such. Despite the minimal risk on Memphis’ side, some still aren’t convinced that he will be worth the trouble.

“If he wasn’t, you know, Michael Beasley, this would be a pretty great pickup,” wrote CBS Sports’ Matt Moore. “It costs them nothing, and with a locker room as sound as theirs, there’s a chance…a small, dim, fading, desperate chance…that this could actually work.”

Have expectations really fallen that far for a player who left Kansas State in 2008 with, as NBADraft.net’s Borko Popic put it, “few doubts about him becoming a bigtime impact talent at the next level”?

Well, yes, they have, and Beasley has often seemed to pull them down himself.

As Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic detailed last Septemberwhen the Phoenix Suns waived Beasley only one season in to a three-year, $18 million contract—Beasley’s off-court issues included multiple run-ins with the law:

In mid-May, Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby and newly hired General Manager Ryan McDonough met with Michael Beasley to lay out expectations for the summer.

Beasley could not last three months before he let the Suns down again. His on-court regression might have been enough to cut ties but an early August arrest for marijuana possession in his car was intolerable.

[...] 

Beasley was previously under Scottsdale police’s investigation for a sexual assault accusation during the season. Two weeks later, he was cited for speeding, driving on a suspended license and driving without a license plate or registration.

To make matters worse, his stat sheet has rarely reflected his skill set. His numbers have often hovered around average, occasionally rising above the mark but sometimes slipping below it.

Last season was one of his most efficient, yet he logged a career-low 15.1 minutes a night during his second tour of duty with the Miami Heat. He didn’t even have a rotation spot during Miami’s playoff run, as 17 of his 23 postseason minutes came in Game 5 of the NBA Finals—when coach Erik Spoelstra was looking for any kind of spark in the face of a 3-1 series deficit.

The Heat opted against bringing him back for several reasons, a source told Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, including, “inconsistency, lack of trust in his defense…and maturity/focus issues.”

In other words, Beasley brings baggage, enough of it that his signing raised eyebrows not for the fact that a former top prospect had to take a deal sans guaranteed cash, but rather that another team was willing to take that gamble.

At some point, franchises will stop crossing their fingers and hoping he somehow figures it out. But that time isn’t now for the 25-year-old forward.

“General managers are fond of saying, ‘If a player hasn’t made it by age 25 or 26, there’s a reason he hasn’t made it,’” wrote Grantland’s Zach Lowe.

“That phrase is correct for most of the minimum bin, but it also shows a failure of imagination,” Lowe continued. “Teams that define players by what they can’t do risk overlooking plus NBA skills attached to unformed all-around players.”

It’s about emphasizing strengths over weaknesses, finding where a player can help instead of focusing on where they struggle.

Not every player can be a two-way force. Most of them aren’t. The league is littered with specialists, and Beasley has enough in his offensive arsenal to provide a scoring spark for a Grizzlies team that needs one.

Beasley’s 18.9 points per 36 minutes ranked 47th in the league last season (minimum 25 games played), slotting him ahead of Grizzlies’ stars Mike Conley (18.5, 58th), Zach Randolph (18.3, 63rd) and Marc Gasol (15.7, 133rd).

Memphis tied for 16th in offensive efficiency, and while this team is built to win games at the other end of the floor, it needs a better balance to truly challenge the NBA’s elites. This offense needs more spacers to open up driving lanes and relieve some congestion on the interior, and Beasley could give them more shooting where they need it most:

Beasley could also help bolster a Memphis’ perimeter that still needs help despite receiving some badly needed attention this offseason.

The Grizzlies got just 14.9 points a night last season out of their small forwards, via HoopsStats.com, which tied the Los Angeles Clippers for the fewest in the league. Starter Tayshaun Prince posted a career-worst 8.2 player efficiency ranking, but he still played more than 25 minutes per game.

The position should be deeper this season with the return of Quincy Pondexter and the addition of Vince Carter. But Pondexter might have plenty of rust after missing all but 15 games to a foot fracture in 2013-14, and Carter will turn 38 in January.

Beasley might not be a certainty, but these players really aren’t, either. And none of them possess the same array of scoring tools from inside and out.

There is a value in what he brings, particularly for this team, and if this no-nonsense locker room somehow taps deeper into his potential, Beasley could be a steal. Between his physical gifts and his basketball talent, he has enough to keep people believing in him.

“I’ve always been on Beas as far as being a two-way player,” Heat center Chris Bosh told NBA.com’s Jeff Caplan. “He needs to play defense and offense. It’s something you’re really not taught early on in your career. But I think for him, just with his athleticism and strength, he can be a phenomenal two-way player.”

Beasley is running short on opportunities, but the Grizzlies gave him a great one to fill an impact role for themif he’s willing to put in the work needed to hold such a spot.

He quieted the off-court noise last season, but it was concerning to hear that Miami still worried about his maturity and focus. Especially after Beasley said he had put those issues behind him.

“My first time around, I was a knucklehead,” Beasley told Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick last October. “… This time around, I’m just trying to be more part of the team and more part of the community and more part of Miami Heat culture.”

Judging by the end result, Beasley’s effort was better but still not good enough.

If he doesn’t bring the best out of himself sooner than later, he won’t have the chance to play a significant role—for the Grizzlies or anyone else. But Memphis will be glad to take what he can give if this winds up being the year when everything finally clicks.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.

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College basketball countdown: No. 33 Memphis

USA TODAY Sports breaks down the projected NCAA tournament field of 68.

      
 

 

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NCAA basketball countdown: No. 33 Memphis

USA TODAY Sports breaks down the projected NCAA tournament field of 68.

      
 

 

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Do the Grind Era Memphis Grizzlies Have an Expiration Date?

For the Memphis Grizzlies, a generation of calm shall come after this offseason’s tumult. Owner Robert Pera found his peace after shaking up the front office almost two years after buying the team. Afterward, he committed to the perfect complementary leaders in basketball operations, a gut-driven scouting eye in Chris Wallace and an analytic mind in John Hollinger.

Moreover, he has at least two long-term players, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Neither is a world-beater, but both are top-five at their respective positions and cause problems for opponents on both ends of the floor.

Above all, Pera is learning from experience to be an effective owner in a small market.

Memphis doesn’t have the path toward becoming the San Antonio Spurs, which set the bar for long-term success. That’s a holistic formula that the Grizzlies have yet to learn.

However, one organization’s blueprint for sustenance doesn’t fit all. In six years of Wallace and Hollinger, the Grizzlies have etched out their own, consisting of unequal parts cashing in on underrated draft picks, making risky trades, adding complementary free agents and finding a one-to-one relationship with an NBA D-League team.

Getting in the middle of the title conversation would take time and another major piece, but the Grizzlies will stay good while retaining their “grit ‘n’ grind” identity past Tony Allen’s departure. Rarely can small-market franchises say that about the long run.

 

Making the front office work

The Grizzlies are sticking with a blend of metrics and player study, both of which are needed for successful team building. 

Wallace, who edited and published a yearly college basketball guide before working in the NBA, built the Grind Era with a few questionable moves. He drafted Conley, who was described by Draft Express that year as a “freak” athletically who needed much work as a shooter. 

He pulled off two deals that eventually gave Memphis a wonderful frontcourt marriage. Getting a package including the rights to Gasol in exchange for his older brother, Pau, was unpopular at the time, but, like Conley, the center became a fruitful project.

Zach Randolph forever stands as Wallace’s signature move. Before Wallace threw Quentin Richardson to the Los Angeles Clippers for him, the league had written off the power forward as an inefficient malcontent.

Since Gasol and Randolph totaled three All-Star appearances, they validate the general manager’s ability to win against dim odds on the trade front.

These deals indicate that Wallace can reload the roster if needed with a sharp trade.

Hollinger, whom ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported will remain the vice president of basketball operations, meshes well with Wallace, bringing information that helps the decision-making process.

His analytic expertise should help drafting. As noted before, Wallace doesn’t have a great draft record, as seen in Conley’s win shares outnumbering the combined total of the other picks.

This year’s draft offered a glimpse of what the Grizzlies will do in the future. As Fox Sports Southwest reporter Rob Fischer tweeted, a group converged in the room:

Indeed, this may result in different people receiving credit for picks. Libertyballers.com’s Michael Levin was among those labeling Jordan Adams a Hollinger pick via Twitter:

These reactions arose because Adams was more attractive as a prospect for his numbers than his athleticism. DraftExpress.com stated Adams was the second-best finisher at the rim in the halfcourt, tops in field-goal percentage among shooting guards and fifth at his position in points per possession.

Chris Herrington of Memphis’ The Commercial Appeal pointed to Hollinger, as well as president of business operations Jason Wexler, as ideal to Pera, saying, “Hollinger and Wexler seem to embody the progressive approach to team-building and management that Pera promised from the beginning.”

Hollinger’s trades, which sustained Memphis both in terms of competition and financial flexibility, redeem this notion. In 2013, the Rudy Gay and Marreese Speights trades saved the Grizzlies from the luxury tax. Roping Tayshaun Prince for Gay helped recharge the offense and made it a bit more efficient. 

Picking up Courtney Lee added a shooter to a roster that badly needed one. He found ideal young backups by acquiring Kosta Koufos and Nick Calathes in low-risk deals.

 

Roster building

The Grizzlies have a couple of more seasons with their current core trio of Randolph, Conley and Gasol, but the long-term focuses on a set including the latter two.

Gasol becomes eligible for an extension on Dec. 12. That will bring the first chance when Memphis can ensure the future with their six-year pro. Pera told The Commercial Appeal (subscription required), “I think re-signing Marc is at the top if not THE top priority for the team.”

Not only do the Grizzlies ensure their identity for the long-term by having two former All-Defensive Team members under 30 but also a game-changing defender leading the way.

Gasol was fifth in defensive rating in 2012-13 and made the Memphis defense one of the best down the stretch in 2013-14 by allowing 101 points per 100 possessions.

Both are disciplined while forcing turnovers. Gasol grabbed a steal per game in four of the past five seasons. Conley, who lowered his defensive rating three straight years before last season, was 20th with a 2.4 percent steals rate in 2013-14 and was fourth at 3.4 percent the year before.

Conley, who has two years left on his contract, has emerged as a veritable scorer at the right time. The 26-year-old averaged 17.2 points per game in a season when Randolph furthered his decline as a shooter, making 46.9 percent from the field.

Also, Conley showed dependability as a lead guard as he put an 11.5 percent turnover rate next to a 24.6 percent usage rate.

The pair shared facilitation duties. Conley had six assists per game last season. Gasol, who averaged 3.9 assists per 36 minutes, distributes the ball from the elbow. 

They form a foundation with their passing and above-average scoring. Since they likely won’t post much more than 32 points per game, maintaining a group of shooters around them will be part of the process in the long run.

 

An owner awakened

The 36-year-old Pera grew tremendously in his second full offseason with the Grizzlies. After Dave Joerger was close to joining the Minnesota Timberwolves, Pera reached out to Joerger. He and Joerger had a heart-to-heart talk that led to a greater understanding, according to Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal (subscription required).

“What’s between Robert and I is like wow,” Joerger said afterward.

Amid the front-office fallout, Pera reached out to John Hollinger to stay, per Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal (subscription required).

Speaking on the SB Nation Drive & Kick podcast, Paul Flannery reports Herrington described Pera as “extremely bright” and well-meaning while adding, “He’s very new to this and it’s showing in sometimes painful and awkward ways. It’s a combination of naivete and confidence.”

Pera, who had been quiet and disengaged before shuffling the basketball operations, decided to become more involved after the shakeup.

After emphasizing the importance of keeping Gasol in the aforementioned article, Pera discussed organizational strategy, saying:

We’re not going to be able to build a championship team by going into free agency and getting superstars (like the Lakers or Heat).

What we’re going to have to do is, we’re going to have to become the best team or one of the best teams in the NBA at player development and developing the pieces and we’re going to have a tight culture that brings out the most in our pieces, our players.

Part of that includes use of their new NBA D-League partner, the Iowa Energy. Partly, that’s committing to developing players the way Gasol and Conley were brought up.

 

Conclusion

Pera’s renaissance came at a time when Grizzlies fans needed reassurance. After being knocked out of the first round of the playoffs for the second time in three years, Memphis might have seemed like a team on the edge with an aging leader in Randolph and a star heading toward a contract year in Gasol.

He recovered from turmoil by leaning on a pair with expertise and experience to work toward the future. Wallace has managed to find the right opportunities to build the team. Hollinger has developed analytics and maintained a forward-looking mentality in management.

They start at this future with two peak-level players, Conley and Gasol, who can ensure success through defensive leadership and facilitation on offense.

The Grizzlies will need to make trades or draft players to transform from a team that will stay good to one that consistently contends for titles. But that will depend on Pera’s vision and, particularly, players Hollinger and Wallace may identify.

 

Unless otherwise noted, advanced metrics come from Basketball-Reference.com.

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5 Players the Memphis Grizzlies Need to Step Up Next Season

The Memphis Grizzlies are looking for reinforcement on the wing after they couldn’t keep up with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoffs with a core focused on scoring in the paint. Their main offseason signing, Vince Carter, reinvented himself in recent years doing just that.

The Grizzlies count on him warding off decline in his 16th season. Carter can make good by remaining accurate on the striking number of three-pointers he launches.

The Grizzlies are banking on a sharp year from Quincy Pondexter. They extended him for four years last fall only to see him miss most of the season due to injury.

Likewise, Courtney Lee needs to bounce back after his three-point shooting soured down the stretch last year.

Generally, the Grizzlies need more from the outside because their core players have already reached their peaks. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley won’t score much more than they currently do, and Zach Randolph has tailed off a bit. This slow-paced offense will require sharpshooting from a few players so that Memphis can keep up with high-scoring playoff teams, even while they grind them defensively.

Follow along for breakdowns on how a few Grizzlies players need to raise their games.

Begin Slideshow

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Memphis Grizzlies waive guard Jamaal Franklin

Memphis Grizzlies announce they have waived guard Jamaal Franklin

      
 

 

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Memphis Grizzlies waive guard Jamaal Franklin (Yahoo Sports)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies have waived guard Jamaal Franklin.

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Diagnosing Memphis Grizzlies’ Weak LInk in 2014-15

Behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph stands the Memphis Grizzlies‘ biggest potential problem. Kosta Koufos, Jon Leuer and Jarnell Stokes will be fine off the bench, but if given too much responsibility, the Grizzlies’ reserve big men would become troublesome.

Indeed, the Grizzlies have a couple of other sore spots. Tayshaun Prince appears to be one of the least inspiring starting small forwards in the NBA. Three-point shooting causes concern.

However, the Grizzlies have enough depth behind Prince to either minimize his minutes or supplant him in the starting lineup. Subpar three-point shooting and a low volume of threes won’t break the team because they’re among the better performers inside the arc.

The gap between the starters inside and their backups might be their undoing after it set them back last season.

 

Fear of another Gasol injury

After brushing off long-term injuries to Rudy Gay and Randolph in prior seasons, the Grizzlies found that Gasol is the one whose absence they can’t overcome. 

Kosta Koufos was overwhelmed while filling in for Gasol for 23 games. Koufos struggled to hit shots, connecting on 45.9 percent despite taking most of his shots at the rim.

A normally stout defender, Koufos flailed at attacking ball-handlers. He allowed 106 points per 100 possessions, six more than his rating as a reserve.

The Grizzlies suffered tremendously on that end without the 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year. They allowed 109.5 points per 100 possessions.

Beyond the arc, they allowed 35.6 percent.

Insurance behind a top-10 player in the league is difficult to find, especially if said player does as many things as Gasol does. No center combines passing, mid-range shooting, defense and free-throw shooting as well as the Spaniard.

For that matter, finding a backup center with any combination of Gasol’s qualities is nearly impossible. 

At the moment, Gasol seems to be confident in his knee. He’s playing without his knee brace. He started sharply in the FIBA World Cup with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in the group play opener against Iran.

 

Power forward depth best left untested

The Grizzlies have two decent backups behind Randolph in Leuer and Stokes, but an extended period relying on the two without their veteran power forward could leave them vulnerable. 

Chris Herrington of the Memphis Commercial Appeal (subscription required) noted, “In terms of experience, power forward, behind Randolph, might be the thinnest position.”

Leuer has played 123 games in three seasons, and Stokes is a rookie.

Twenty-five-year-old Leuer is a fantastic scorer when he gets significant minutes. In 18 games with 15 or more minutes last year, he averaged 13.2 points per game. He scored in double figures in 14 of those games. He led a rout of the Detroit Pistons on Jan. 5 with 23 points.

Leuer’s 46.9 percent mark from long range provided a boost.

He also improved tremendously on the defensive boards. He averaged 6.8 rebounds per 36 minutes, 2.2 more than the year before. His 22.8 percent defensive rebounding percentage is a 6.9 percent improvement.

However, that was against second-unit players. Leuer has hardly been tested on the boards against elite starting big men. 

While Leuer scores and rebounds well off the bench, he’s challenged on defense when on the floor for a substantive period. He allowed 103 points per 100 possessions, but 108 in 11 games when playing between 20 and 30 minutes and 120 in two games with more than 30 minutes.

Randolph may need help from Gasol to keep defenders in front of him, but Leuer’s defensive troubles are too great for Gasol to manage.

On the other hand, Stokes can fight on the inside defensively and rebound, but he is questionable on offense. He pulled down 10.5 boards per game in his last season at Tennessee. His 7’1″ wingspan and grit allow him to compete with NBA big men.

DraftExpress.com points out in analyzing situational figures that Stokes is reliant on shots at the rim and lacks shooting touch.

 

Unless otherwise noted, advanced metrics come from basketball-reference.com.

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Memphis welcomes in transfers Johnson, Godfrey

Memphis adds Vanderbilt transfer Kedren Johnson and Calvin Godfrey from Southern

      
 

 

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