NBA PM: Marc Gasol Off The Market?
One of the most exciting (and unexpected) stories of the 2010-11 NBA season was the meteoric rise of the Memphis Grizzlies. Left for dead when team leader Rudy Gay was lost for the season to a shoulder injury, the Grizzlies acquired Shane Battier at the trade deadline and proceeded to make the playoffs. They weren’t finished, though. The Grizzlies came in as the West Conference’s eighth seed, wiped out the top-seeded Spurs and the pushed the Oklahoma City Thunder to the brink before finally bowing out.
Through it all there was a kind of sober reality lingering in the background. As good as the Grizzlies were, as much momentum as they seemed to build, there was the pending free agency of Marc Gasol hanging over the team like a hangman’s ax. Would they ever get a chance to move forward, or would they be missing their key front court anchor the next time they took the court?
Gasol is by far the move coveted player in this year’s NBA free agent class, and while he is a restricted free agent and the Grizzlies can match any offer, most observers of the team felt that Gasol would likely be gone. The Grizzlies have never been big-spenders, and keeping Gasol would absolutely require them to spend big.
But, as things stand today, it seems a new mentality is taking hold in Memphis, perhaps a product of the incredible excitement the team generated with its postseason run. It sounds as though a maximum offer may be in the offing for Gasol, and that the next obvious cost-saving move – trading Rudy Gay – is not an option. It actually seems that the Grizzlies will come back even better than last season, with a healthy Gay in the starting lineup and Gasol locked up long-term.
It might be somewhat of a nightmare for NBA commissioner David Stern, who prefers to see the bigger markets going deep into the playoffs, but the Memphis Grizzlies just might be one of the teams to beat in the West . . .not just this season, but for years to come.
Whether or not you’re a fan of the Grizzlies, it has to be exciting on some level to see a small market team making a push to run with the big dogs.
Of course, there is still a nagging voice in the back of my head that says I’ll believe it when I see it . . .but for the sake of long-suffering Grizzlies fans, I’ll maintain an attitude of optimism. They are certainly poised to field the best team in franchise history.
McHale Talks Rockets
Most Houston Rockets fans were less than impressed when Kevin McHale was named as the team’s new head coach over the summer. After all, McHale has never had much love for pacing the sidelines and his record as both GM and head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves was less than impressive. Still, he is a legend of the game and should command the respect of his players. He is certainly talking a good game, too, as he tries to succeed the popular the very Rick Adelman, who found ways to win despite mounting odds.
“To make the playoffs. That’s our goal is to make the playoffs,” McHale said of his goal for the season, talking to KILT in Houston. “Anything can happen. Memphis proved last year you make the playoffs and anything can happen. They beat the Spurs in the first round to get to the second round and they gave Oklahoma City a run for their money so we gotta make the playoffs. You gotta get into the playoffs to give yourself a chance. That’s our goal. I’m not sure how many wins in a 66-game season that’s gonna take, but however many that is that’s how many we gotta go get. The wins and losses always take care of themselves. If you play hard and you play tough, if you compete every possession, you go out there and get after it then good things happen. If you don’t then bad things happen.”
The Rockets already know plenty about competing for every possession, as that’s the only way they stayed in the playoff chase last season while injured All-Star center Yao Ming sat on the sidelines. McHale says he isn’t sure if the Rockets need to add anything, but then details exactly what they need to add.
“We gotta get better defensively. I don’t know if we have to add anything. We gotta get better defensively. No question we gotta become a better rebounding team, we were an 18th to 20th in the league type rebounding team and we gotta improve on that, which means all five guys gotta rebound. We’re not the biggest team in the world but I tell our guys all the time if you’re not taller then you gotta be tougher. Being a long, lanky player I loved getting in reaching contests. That was my advantage, but our team is not really long and lanky. We don’t have a lot of the huge size so we’re gonna have to carve out space. We’re gonna have to put our bodies on people, get ‘em out of there, rebound the ball very well and get better on defense. In all the film I watched last year I just felt there was too many breakdowns, too many straight line drives, and too many what I consider just a ‘B’ move by a player getting by his guy and just breaking down the defense and causing things to happen. Offensively, offensive basketball is pretty simple. You gotta space the court and move the ball. If you space the court and move the ball and have guys that can make plays which I do believe we have some guys who can make plays your offense should flow and should run but we gotta get better like I said defensively and rebounding.”
McHale has already told his players that he will run a lot of the same offense that Adelman had in place, but there will be some changes, as well.
“We will change offensively just because I think Rick is unique and a very good coach as far as running his corner series. He ran that almost exclusively. I would say 75 or 80 percent was just a read and react corner. We have that in just because they are so familiar with it but we’re gonna get a little bit more with traditional sets into an organized break. I’m a big fast break guy, we gotta push the ball, especially with our size, speed, and ability. Our bigs can run and you gotta use the fact that (Luis) Scola, (Patrick) Patterson, and Jordan (Hill), these guys are gonna have to spring the floor, get down there, beat their man down, and get some early offense. It will be different. I can’t coach like Coach Adelman. You gotta be who you are. I value the corner offense, but I value defense, rebounding, toughness, and pushing the ball, spacing, ball movement, that’s kinda where I come from.”
Of course, like all new NBA head coaches this season, McHale faces a bigger challenge than would normally be expected. The lockout cost the teams precious training camp time, and now everyone will be thrown into the deep end with little time to prepare. McHale says the key will be to focus on one particular area and go from there.
“I will tell you what, if you have a 28-day training camp as in a normal season you’re always saying, ‘geez did we cover this and cover that?’ In a shortened time, I believe those anxieties as a coach will be a little more. You just worry all the time. That’s why when you coach you age in dog years. You worry about everything. We will be putting in stuff as the year goes on but we gotta put in basic, simple things early. When good athletes play slow, play sluggish, and not to their level of athleticism and movement they are thinking too much. When you put too much stuff and you think too much you get slow. Athletes that are free, know their assignments, and are comfortable in what they’re doing, they play very fast and I want to play fast offensively and defensively. We can’t overload them with stuff and that’s gonna be up to me to really monitor myself and my staff and say ‘hey if you don’t have everything in then so be it,’ but let’s get really good with what we do. Basketball is no different than life. In life a guys New Year’s resolution that is 50 things, that guy never gets anything done. A New Year’s resolution where a guy has one thing, he’s got a good chance of getting that one thing done. If you try to do 50 things it’s very hard. In basketball, with this team and a short amount of time, we gotta get better defensively. That’s priority number one. We gotta get better rebounding and we gotta go after offensive rebounds which means more people to the glass and more effort. Then spacing and ball movement. Those are my three top priorities that we have going in. With a shortened preseason are we gonna be perfect? No. Do you wish you had more time? Yes. I can tell you after 28 days next year I would be saying I wish we had more time, too. Coaches are always looking for more time to be with the team and in practice.”
If the Rockets don’t land a starting center before the season starts, McHale might feel like this season stretches out much longer than 66 games. Indeed, each day might seem like a dog year for Houston’s new head coach.
Detroit Pistons Name Catanella Director of Basketball Ops
Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the team has named Ken Catanella as Director of Basketball Operations. Catanella joins the Pistons after spending several years with the NBA League Office.
In his role with the Pistons, Catanella will serve as the team’s salary cap specialist and direct Detroit’s analytics efforts.
Prior to his time with the league office, Catanella worked for the New Jersey Nets (2006-08) where he managed the Nets’ analytics and spearheaded the creation and implementation of their statistical scouting systems.
A graduate of Amherst College where he played collegiately, Catanella has worked on Wall Street providing analytics on stadium/arena financings for professional teams and valuing publicly traded companies. While earning his MBA at Duke University, Catanella served as a graduate assistant to the Blue Devils Men’s Basketball team from 2004-05. Catanella has also played professionally for the Bundesliga’s Cologne 99ers of the German League and later served as the assistant general manager of the 99ers.
HOOPSWORLD Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys to insure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @jfleminghoops, @TheRocketGuy (Bill Ingram), @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @alexraskinNYC, @TommyBeer, @YannisHW and now Susan Bible (@SusanBible).
NBA Chats: There are two NBA Chats scheduled for today starting with HOOPSWORLD’s Bill Ingram at 11am. HOOPSWORLD editor Jason Fleming rounds out the day with his weekly NBA chat at 8pm EST. You can always find the next NBA Chat here: http://www.hoopsworld.com/upcoming-chats/ and if you are looking for Previous Chats try here: http://www.hoopsworld.com/previous-chats/