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News » Case weak for Conley deal


Case weak for Conley deal


Case weak for Conley deal
Go ahead Memphis Grizzlies , trade point guard Mike Conley.

You'll be sorry. You'll regret the decision, and Conley 's success will be his revenge. You'll learn the hard way that players like the Ohio State product shouldn't be easily discarded.

Those sentiments are shared by many in the Grizzlies ' locker room, and obviously, by a coach and general manager or 20 who believe Conley's better days are ahead.

But Griz rookie Marc Gasol wouldn't leave FedExForum on Friday night before he could be heard loud and clear.

"That trade doesn't make any sense," Gasol exclaimed, referring to a proposed deal that would send Conley to Milwaukee for Ramon Sessions and Joe Alexander .

"It's wrong," the 7-foot Spaniard continued. "I wouldn't trade Mike. You're looking and you're trying to do something to fix this, but that isn't the right thing. There's more to what's going on."

Before you dismiss Gasol's assessment as nothing more than an emotional rookie coming to the defense of a friend/teammate consider this: Gasol has several years of professional Basketball experience in Europe. He comes from a burgeoning European Basketball enterprise, where players aren't tossed around like stocks, but rather developed with the promise of commitment and patience.

How else do you explain Gasol - once a bona fide scrub - turning into a solid NBA center? And, really, could Gasol's talent evaluation be any worse than the Grizzlies' stale scouting recommendations given their draft history pre-Chris Wallace?

Listen. The guy makes sense when talking about Conley's up-and-down performances.

"There are many reasons. First you're starting, and then you're out of the lineup," Gasol said. "And sometimes you're not playing as well. The important thing is how you are inside. What are you trying to accomplish on the court? Are you working? Are you doing what coach is asking you to do? Are you helping your teammates? Mike is always trying to do the right thing."

In other words, Conley's development or lack thereof is an organizational issue. Sure, Conley could show more fight. The coaching staff could be more flexible, too, and put the fourth overall pick from 2007 in better position to succeed.

Griz coach Marc Iavaroni is said to have convinced the organization that Conley could develop into another Steve Nash - or Tony Parker -type player as a compelling reason to draft the 19-year-old. Remember when Iavaroni likened Conley to a Ferrari?

(By the way, who owns a Ferrari and only cruises at 35 mph? The Griz don't run, but that's another topic for another day, say Wednesday).

There is no exact science when it comes to nurturing the most difficult position on the floor. But some patience, trust and freedom are required ingredients.

The Griz have only added a pinch of those elements to Conley's development.

Nash's productivity in his second season (9.1 ppg, 3.4 apg in 22 mpg) made Phoenix ship him to Dallas only to desperately seek his services again seven years later. New Jersey's Devin Harris averaged 9.9 points and 3.2 assists in 23 mpg his second season under a control freak in Dallas.

Parker, another 19-year-old rookie, drove Gregg Popovich crazy with his inconsistency, but that didn't stop San Antonio from starting the young point guard in all 82 games and allowing him to average 33 minutes in Year 2.

Conley has played 92 career NBA games and started 64 of them at an average of 25.5 minutes per game.

When people salivate over Deron Williams , Chris Paul and Derrick Rose , the talent is obvious, but what's left out is the organizational commitment they received with tolerance and playing time.

Williams started in 80 of the 80 games he was healthy and averaged 37 minutes in his second year. Paul wasn't benched, nor is Rose, despite their teams' respective failures.

So trade Conley just to trade him?

For the record, I agree with Gasol in saying this is a serious mistake.

What's funny is that the Griz don't wholeheartedly believe that this deal makes them much better - something based on an admission from personnel with input on decision-making that getting two players for one is what mostly makes this situation sexy.

"I know I'll get in trouble, but I just don't like it," Gasol said. "Mike is an important piece for us. He's a team-oriented player. There aren't many guys like that. He never makes excuses. He's always thinking about the team, and I haven't seen many players in the NBA like that so far."

Now a shortsighted decision is threatening to make Conley's game another excellent yet fleeting commodity in Memphis.

May's hard number

Charlotte coach Larry Brown and managing partner Michael Jordan recently gave forward Sean May an ultimatum: May won't be activated until he weighs no more than 260 pounds, about 10 less than he weighs right now.

"MJ and Larry expressed to me that this is for my own good, for my longevity," May said. "Coach Brown is really old-school and really cut-and-dry. This is tough love-type stuff. Now I understand it, and I just want to play."

May began the season as the starting power forward, but hasn't been activated for the last 16 games due to conditioning issues and tendinitis in his right knee. He claims he weighs about 270 pounds, down about 15 from what he weighed entering training camp in October.

"I haven't been 260 since I left (North) Carolina. But if that's what they want, that's what they want," May said.

Mt. Mutombo erupts

Don't count Dikembe Mutombo among those who are applauding Yao Ming's recent penchant for stepping in front of driving opponents to draw a charge. That's a no-no in Houston.

"I'm very critical," Mutombo said. "Those are bull. I told him that. He's too tall to be taking charges. He needs to learn to play defense without using his chest. You don't block a shot with you chest. You block it with your hands.

"Maybe Yao is listening to Shane (Battier). Maybe he wants to be a guard or something. Maybe he's planning to lead the league charges. So I have to stop him. I have to teach him to lead the league in blocked shots, not charges."

Signs of improvement

All talk of Oklahoma City challenging Philadelphia's futility record of 9-73 has dissipated. The Thunder's scoring margin was minus-12.3 under P.J. Carlesimo the first 13 games of the season. In Scott Brooks' first 13 games it decreased to minus-7.5. In the next 14 games it's been minus-2.7 and shrinks to minus-0.5 if you exclude a 42-point blowout loss at Minnesota.

"Our record does not indicate who we are," Brooks said.

Oklahoma City is 4-4 since New Year's Eve. The Thunder is 7-33 overall but that includes going 0-11 under Brooks in games decided by six points or less.

Odd man out

With guard Kirk Hinrich back after missing two months following surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament, the Bulls' Vinny Del Negro is dealing with an overloaded backcourt.

Larry Hughes seems to be the odd man out. After playing just seven minutes Monday against Portland, Hughes didn't get off the bench against Toronto or Cleveland. Hughes complained about his playing time when he was averaging more than 25 minutes, so stay tuned for an uproar.

From the baseline

Boston's Rajon Rondo was talking about Jodie Meeks, the University of Kentucky guard who has appeared at his summer camp in Lexington. Meeks scored 54 points against Tennessee on Tuesday, breaking Dan Issel's school record. Said Rondo: "I didn't even know who Dan Issel was." ... Orlando general manager Otis Smith said reports that Boston asked about acquiring guard J.J. Redick are not true. ... Memphis native Lorenzen Wright escorted his Cleveland teammates to the Civil Rights Museum last week before they beat the Griz. Said Lebron James: "That's my third time being there. Every time I go there, it's even more uplifting. Some of those events happened 40 to 50 years ago. It's an unbelievable experience. I have to take my kids so they can understand why they're in the position they're in now. It's great to see what some of the great leaders did."

Dallas owner Mark Cuban when asked about the upcoming 25th anniversary for David Stern, who took over as NBA commissioner in February 1984: "I put him ahead of Major League Baseball." ... Detroit's Rasheed Wallace's league-high total in technical fouls is at 13. Wallace will surpass the 15 technical foul total at some point, which is when suspensions for every other technical start to kick in.

Call Ronald Tillery at 529-2353, read his Grizzlies blog at commercialappeal.com/tillery and listen to him 6-8 a.m. weekdays on The Morning Rush on WHBQ-AM (560).

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TEN FROM TILLERY

What would Martin Luther King Jr. say about today's NBA Basketball? Here are 10 possibilities:

1. I'm proud of the diversity from front offices to FedExForum.

2. I don't mind the long shorts but get rid of the 'fro hawk, son.

3. To the Griz: In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

4. Consider Bob Lanier, Oscar Robertson or Dave Bing to succeed David Stern as commissioner?

5. We have an Iranian player? Yes, we can!

6. Good job, Billy Hunter.

7. On trading Mike Conley: Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

8. Shame on TNT/NBA for not originally scheduling Memphis on MLK Day this year.

9. Today's players should be better stewards of the game.

10. Thank you Michael Heisley for bringing NBA Basketball to Memphis. How can we make this work?

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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 20, 2009

 

 
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