In anticipation of tomorrow's surprisingly important matchup between the Rockets and the Memphis Grizzlies, I had a chat with Joshua Coleman of the excellent Grizzlies blog 3 Shades of Blue. Feel free to head over to their website to see some of my answers as well. Here's what Joshua had to say:
TDS: How happy/sad are you that the Rockets traded you Rudy Gay for Shane Battier?
3SoB: I have mixed emotions now, just as I did at the time of the trade happening. Obviously, both players have their respective strengths, some of which are readily apparent and others which take an appreciative viewpoint to spot. I still believe that the trade was a good move for the franchise, because it did the one thing that was necessary at the time: it instilled hope. Shane Battier is a great player, but Rudy Gay just oozes tantalizing potential that a fanbase can get behind and hang their dreams on. That was what the Grizzlies needed more than anything at that time...and they still do.
TDS: Would you have rather held onto Kyle Lowry than Mike Conley? Who’s the better player in your opinion?
3SoB: There's a fairly clear separation among the fans about just who is better and who the franchise should have kept, although both sides agree on one thing: Kyle Lowry is not a viable starter in the NBA for a playoff-level team. The difference is that the two groups are split between Mike Conley being the PG of the future for this team or O.J . Mayo assuming that mantle.
I'm ecstatic that we traded Lowry away for a variety of reasons. First, it is because I believe that Mike Conley is the better player -- both right now and going forward. Second, because in order for Conley to truly establish himself as being the better player, the nonsense of the two of them splitting time 50/50 had to be done away with, allowing Conley to play true starter's minutes without being yanked to the bench every time he makes a simple mistake. Third, Lowry's friendship with certain teammates was beginning to be seen as a detriment to the overall team concept, as those players showed preferential treatment to each other when they were on the floor together. Finally, even if Mayo is the franchise's choice for PG of the future, then I still want Conley out there playing 35+ minutes per game until they trade him, boosting his value.
TDS: How is it that Memphis has owned us for two years?
3SoB: LOL -- Dumb luck, I suppose. Actually, the Grizzlies only won 1 out of 4 games against the Rockets last year, but somehow they have managed to win 2 of 3 so far this year. If I were to actually view this from an analytical approach, I'd have to say that it is probably because Memphis has the requisite big men to combat Yao Ming in the paint.
TDS: Will Marc Gasol ever be Pau Gasol-good?
3SoB: Well, that all depends on how you decide to quantify "Pau Gasol-good", I suppose. Will he ever be the scorer that his big brother is? I see that as very unlikely. But he's already a better defender and tougher rebounder than Pau. Marc is very unlikely to ever make an All-Star team or to be named Player of the Week. But it is also very unlikely that a teammate will ever refer to him using nomenclature associated with the female anatomy either.
TDS: Who would you like to coach the Grizzlies next season?
3SoB: Well, to be honest, Lionel Hollins will be the head coach, so it doesn't really matter who I might want to replace him, even if I did want someone else in there. Hollins is on an 18-month contract, with a 3-year option following that.
TDS: What does this team need more: Another high draft pick talent, or a savvy veteran or two?
3SoB: They need both, but since I know they'll get a high draft pick anyways this summer, I'm hoping that they will use some of their cap space to bring in one or two mid-level contributing veterans. I'm not impressed with most of the "big names" this offseason in terms of how they would help Memphis, but quite a few of the guys that will seek contracts in the neighborhood of the MLE are attractive considering what the Grizzlies need to bolster their talented, but extremely young roster. And we all know that Chris Wallace isn't afraid of shaking things up, so we could see some trades thrown into the mix as well.