By: Anthony Sain
When it was announced that the Memphis Grizzlies would have single-affiliation partnership with the Iowa Energy of the NBA Developmental League, I like many was extremely excited. Having a D-League team where you can send your young players under contract to develop under continuity is an added bonus to a front office that has shown that is not shy about being innovative. Imagining Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes learning the concepts of “Joerger Ball” while away in Iowa as well as the ability to send non-contract players like Kalin Lucas, who was able to serve as an emergency “third point guard,’ sounded fantastic. This type of system also moved the NBA closer to resembling a relationship between the major league and minor league system that you see in baseball, which has the best minor league of all sports. Memphis would be joining the 16 other NBA teams that have one-to- one affiliation, which is more than half of the NBA.
When the Grizzlies ended their preseason, I for one was not surprised that no one from the Grizz preseason roster would be retained for the main roster. Even though Nick Calathes was out serving a suspension, there was no major need to add a contract and lose a roster spot for an emergency player. The Grizz opted to use Iowa Energy point guard Kalin Lucas, as an example of the benefits of D-League affiliation by bringing him back and forth as needed like in the case when several players were out with a stomach virus against Toronto earlier this season. Also brought up during that stint with Lucas was fellow former Grizzlies preseason teammate and Iowa Energy teammate Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside, a seven-foot center, who entered the 2010 NBA Draft after his freshman year after leading the nation in blocks, never panned out in his first NBA stint. He was drafted in the second round by the Sacramento Kings but also had stints in both Lebanon and China. Whiteside was of course signed by the Miami Heat where he has flourished, including a monster triple double that he had on Sunday evening in just 24 minutes, finishing with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 12 blocks in a victory against the Chicago Bulls. Whiteside then followed this game with a 16 point, 16 rebound game Tuesday night against Milwaukee. Seeing Whiteside flourish on another team after the Grizz not only invited him to camp, played him on the preseason roster, sent him to their own D-League team and brought him up to the main roster is frustrating and is the also the subject of this edition of Noise From The Sain Asylum as I take a look at how D- League Affiliation can be improved.
By: Anthony Sain
Often the difference between two equally talented teams comes down to which team can come together and play on one accord. Sometimes even a superiorly talented team may struggle to live up to their potential because of internal issues with the individuals on their roster. In either case, chemistry often proves itself to be a vital part of any championship team. Good chemistry has made teams like the Chauncey Billups lead Pistons, the Dirk Nowitzki lead Mavericks and Spurs champions and has limited the amount of titles that belong to teams like the Kobe & Shaq Lakers. Chemistry is important. Having guys on your team that get along with each other, that trust each other and generally like each other means something. Chemistry and camaraderie are two things that will never be seen on a score-sheet but can easily be seen on the court. In this edition on Noise From The Sain Asylum I will share why I think that not only is the Grizz chemistry and camaraderie at an all-time high, it may also be the needed ingredient to win an NBA championship.
Players like Tony Allen and Zach Randolph as well as Marc Gasol and Mike Conley have long been friends on and off of the court. Many say that the contract situations of Marc, Mike and Zach all have effects on each other’s long term plans with the team. Jeff Green has had a seamless transition as far as fitting in is concerned and you can see many instances where the team has literally embraced him. Green, who is a close friend with Courtney Lee even mentioned in a radio interview on the Chris Vernon show how when Lee was traded to the Grizz, that Lee wanted him to come along with him. Green also talked about how happy he was when he found out that he would be headed here with this group of guys. Lee and Mike Conley go back and have a friendship that is rooted when both were rising AAU players. Tony Allen and Nick Calathes have been known to be the locker rooms “odd couple” as described by Ron Tillery known for cracking jokes on each other and being quite a jovial duo. Allen, who last year was pointed at for being a malcontent after being benched in favor of Courtney Lee has been quite the opposite this year. Allen’s towel waving has been back to it’s usual self and Lee’s impersonation of Tony’s “First Down Dance” was pure gold. I’ve also spotted Rookie Jordan Adams participating in pre- game routines with Mike Conley.
Vince Carter in my opinion has been the hodge-podge that has mixed in with this group and helped to build this beautiful paper mache of team chemistry. The fingerprint of his vocal veteran presence has been all over this team serving as a pleasant contrast and now necessity to Tayshaun Prince, who is no longer with the team. Carter’s patented, “crank the Harley” celebration has also been used by Jeff Green after his highlight dunks. This years Grizz team is talented. They are focused on winning a championship this year and they appear to truly having fun while doing it. Factors have changed this year such as the weight of injuries, trying to scrap to make the playoffs and having a rookie coach. Times are looking good and the teams chemistry and camaraderie have definitely benefited from it.
The Sain Asylum
The Sain Asylum
By Anthony Sain ( @SainAsylum )
Last night the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Brooklyn Nets 95-86 at home in the FedEx Forum. Despite the Grizz gaining their 39th win, before a chance to have 40 before the All-Star break tonight against OKC, the main attraction of the night was the anticipated return of former coach Lionel Hollins. Hollins, who is the franchise’s all-time leader in wins, was greeted with an emotional and heartfelt video presentation during the Net’s player introduction before tip off and was showered with an expected chorus of cheers. All ills were made right and no one was concerned about of any of Hollins’ snarky but yet somehow acceptable and understandable, past comments that he made before being dismissed and after his hiring in Brooklyn. All focus was on paying our respects to a man that was good for this franchise and even better for our city. A man who gave his time, money and efforts to a place that he was not a native of, but still made an impact that remains. Grizz fans got the opportunity to have one final moment of intimacy and closure with our former beloved coach, and in this edition of Noise From The Sain Asylum, I will say how I feel about it, The Morning After.
Earlier yesterday on twitter, I suggested that no fans boo Coach Hollins, regardless of their feelings or opinion of tenure here. I also asked that people be genuine in their responses. If Hollins’ years here garnered no more than a simple clap or silence from indifference that’s fine. If you wanted to stand and cheer or cry with emotions that’s fine as well. I personally didn’t want myself, or others to manufacture a reaction or an emotion that wasn’t authentic. For the record, I stood and applauded. I applauded the coach, I applauded the man, and I applauded the impact that he has had on this city and this franchise. My stance hasn’t changed about how I view the accomplishments of Coach Hollins. I still see him as somewhere in the middle of consensus opinion of him. I don’t agree with the “he took us from nothing to something” way of thinking because I know that there were other factors that played into that, namely the acquisition of Zach Randolph and the Grindfather of Grit & Grind himself, Tony Allen. As the roster improved and the young players; Conley, Gasol, Gay and Mayo naturally progressed, Hollins was able to balance the ship and restore a culture of winning to the franchise. Hollins is also often praised for “sticking to his guns with Mike Conley” which also deserves subjective praise in my opinion. I think that Conley and Lowry’s career path comparisons are a draw at their worst and even if Hollins would have made the “wrong choice” a consolation pick of Steph Curry in the 2009 draft would not have been a bad thing. I credit Hollins with being probably one of the best coaches in the league as far as nurturing and motivating his players goes but lacked as far as creativity and innovation on offense are concerned. I think that the fact that Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are having their most productive seasons as far as displaying a full arsenal of offensive ability is not merely coincidence, and come from a combination of natural player progression as well as a more open offense gradually being put into place by Coach Joerger.
Hollins’ stubbornness, although entertaining, genuine and respectable, was also his downfall on several occasions on and off the court. A stern, and often surly alpha dog personality, Hollins brash coaching style assumedly ran its course in the locker room with established vets, as well as his honest and opinionated comments and responses to media about the organization. He was a seasoned, savvy, old-school coach who because of circumstances outside of his control, was caught up in the middle of an organization in transition that had a vision that didn’t include him. Whether or not this was a good decision is still yet to be seen as the Grizz are now in the midst of their best start in franchise history looking to finish the season with an NBA championship in it’s sights. It was good to get a win last night against a coach that touched so many of us, but it was also good to gain closer on a chapter of our franchise that was divisive as well as stressful amongst the fanbase. It was good to have a final fling to rekindle our love affair with coach Hollins, but the morning after I, like many other fans realize that it is probably best if we both move on. It was fun coach Hollins; if only for one night.
The Sain Asylum
The Sain Asylum