Monday, June 22, 2009

Something Wrong With Memphis?

ESPN reported Monday that Hasheem Thabeet canceled a workout with the Memphis Grizzlies in order to convince Sam Presti, Oklahoma City’s GM, to take him with the 3rd pick. The big man is worried about Memphis’ commitment to building a winning team. Should the Grizzlies give in to Thabeet’s wishes or should they take the Center, if they want Thabeet? This isn’t the first time a player has objected to play for the Grizzlies and unless they don’t give in to Thabeet it won’t be the last.
Hasheem Thabeet is a defensive presence in the making, but he didn’t start playing basketball until he was 15 so he is a little unpolished on the offensive end. His freshmen year he tied a UConn game record in blocks with 10 and was named to the Big East All-Rookie Team. His sophomore season we saw Thabeet improve with his increased minutes. He was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Now after his Junior he is projected to be a top 5 pick.
Thabeet isn’t the first incoming rookie to make his displeasure with the Grizzlies known. After the 1999 draft Guard Steve Francis announced he wouldn’t play for the then Vancouver Grizzlies citing God’s will as one of the many reasons. Francis was traded prior to the season for Michael Dickerson, Othella Harrington, Antoine Carr, Brent Price, and draft picks that resulted in Troy Bell and Dahnty Jones, Not exactly a group to make a team a contender, with only 1 of those players still in the league. Steve Francis went on to share the Rookie of the Year award with Elton Brand and the Grizzlies went on to go 22-60. To this day the Grizzlies have nothing to show for losing Francis who had 7 decent seasons before disappearing from the league. Memphis should look elsewhere in the draft or if they take Thabeet, keep Thabeet.
Memphis is being questioned for their commitment to winning. No sports agent wants to send their player to a wasteland. I don’t think it is as bad of a situation as people make it out to be. In the 2007 offseason the Grizzlies offered a 3 year $21,000,000 dollar deal to Darko Milicic. If Memphis weren’t planning on contending then why offer any contract over the Mid-Level Salary Exception? Memphis is in a rebuilding stage blowing up a team that wasn’t that good to begin with. They traded their cornerstone player and handed the keys of the team over to Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, and the youth of the Grizzlies. Now then once Gay’s contract is up and the management doesn’t even whisper the words “extension” or “contract” to him then incoming rookies have a case against the Grizzlies. Until then show up and play.
The Grizzlies shouldn’t give into an unproven commodity. Should they draft Thabeet and he refuse to play the situation only truly hurts Thabeet. Memphis could improve without the big man; Gay, Mayo, and Gasol will be a year older, a year more equipped for the NBA game. The season may not be their breakthrough back into the playoffs, but to give into Thabeet paves the road for other draftees to spurn the Grizzlies in the future. Francis got his wish out of the Grizzlies and the team has nothing to show for it. Best case scenario Thabeet eventually caves in and plays out his rookie contract. Worst case Memphis sends a message to future draft classes that they can play for Memphis or watch them play from afar. Either way I don’t think that Memphis should listen to Thabeet’s demands. Besides if I had the #2 pick I’d take Rubio.
--Also what about the pride of these players? I’m sure it is tough to come into a bad team, but doesn’t that add into the intrigue. Thabeet could be a piece of the puzzle to help turn the Grizzlies around. Years from now they could be in the playoffs with a nucleus of Gay, Mayo, and Thabeet and just laugh about their early lottery years together. Hasheem could be part of a process and get to see his hard work pay off… But no he wants to come into a cushy situation with one of the best young teams in the league. What would you rather be a savior or a center?

1 comment:

  1. Report came out Tuesday that refutes thabeet not wanting to play for Memphis. Visa problems kept him out of Memphis not his disdain for the organization. Any words I used maybe badmouthing Thabeet for skipping the Memphis are taken back.