NBA Free Agency: Rudy Gay could be the Grizzlies' latest huge mistake

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nba_gay.jpgAmong this year’s free agent class, there are the can’t-miss prospects (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh), the impressive consolation prizes (Joe Johnson, Amar’e Stoudemire), and then a third, less illustrious subgroup: those destined to be overpaid.

Carlos Boozer seems a likely candidate as any, as a team with cap space and money to spare will probably end up throwing entirely too much money at a power forward that can score and rebound, but little else.

The same may be true of Rudy Gay, who as a young, talented, free agent, is sure to draw some interest this summer. That last sentence however, comes with a bit of a caveat: whereas guys like LeBron, Joe Johnson, and Carlos Boozer are unrestricted free agents, Gay’s restricted free agent status essentially ensures that if Rudy is going to find himself on a different roster next season, someone will have to overpay him. Otherwise, that team risks the Grizzlies matching their offer to Gay and keeping him at a reduced cost.

There’s just too many teams with available cap space this summer for someone not to take a swing at Rudy Gay. The LeBrons and Wades of this class can only go to so many teams, which will inevitably leave someone out in the cold with no star to call their own. Then, in their moment of vulnerability, a team could conceivably look to invest in Gay as a long-term pillar of their franchise, and they’re doomed to regret that decision down the line.

Rudy Gay is a fine player, but he’s far from an NBA star. He’s a dynamic talent, but whether or not he’s capable of making the jump from good to great is certainly in question. At present, he’s simply well above average, which is nice, but not quite centerpiece material.

No one bother to inform Grizzlies’ owner Michael Heisley of that apparently, who is posturing going into the free agency period. From Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

The Griz are preparing for the June 24 draft with the need for more shooting, versatility, point guard help and their talented, soon-to-be restricted free-agent forward in mind.

Heisley continues to insist that he is prepared to retain Gay at all costs.

“Rudy is going to be out there. But here’s the No. 1 thing: The option on what we pay him is mine,” Heisley said. “So when I say we’re going to have Rudy next year, that’s a pretty good indication that we’re going to have him.”

It’s tough to validate free agent talk at this point in the year, but if Heisley really is intent on retaining Gay no matter the cost, the Grizzlies are in some serious trouble. At present, their best move is likely to let Gay walk and try to move forward while building around O.J. Mayo and Marc Gasol, and locking Rudy up with a long-term deal would eliminate much of their financial flexibility going forward. 

Steve Kerr on Stephen Curry: “it’s not an injury”

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In the age of social media and spin, the idea of a nuanced answer — where there is some truth to a statement, but it is not the only reason for something — gets drowned out.

For example, let’s take the case of Stephen Curry‘s below-par performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder (he was 6-of-20 shooting with six turnovers in Game 4 and is 5-of-21 from three in the last two games). A report came out Wednesday morning saying Curry was only 70 percent following his knee surgery, which first led to a lot of silly “excuses” comments on Twitter. This led to Steve Kerr denying the injury, via Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times.

Here’s a radical idea: Curry’s struggles are a combination of things.

Yes, the improved, athletic, and lengthy Thunder defense is giving Curry problems. They are meeting him out high, often doubling off the pick-and-roll, and when that pick is set by Draymond Green Kevin Durant and his length is doing a great job of blowing that play up. Also, it is clear the physical exertion of guarding Russell Westbrook is wearing Curry down.

But also, he has lacked the explosiveness we saw lift him to a second consecutive MVP during the season. He’s had great quarters — the fourth and OT in Game 4 vs. Portland, and the second quarter of Game 2 vs. OKC — but he has not been the consistent force we are used to seeing.

Welcome to the playoffs, where if someone is a little bit off that gets exploited by the other team.

That is what is going on, the rest is just spin.

Frank Vogel says it would be “inaccurate” to say he begged for his job with Pacers

TORONTO, ON - MAY 01:  Head Coach Frank Vogel of the Indiana Pacers looks on in the first half of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Raptors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 01, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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This is all moot now. Frank Vogel has landed on his feet with a promising young Orlando team; Nate McMillan slid up a chair to take over the head coaching job in Indiana (which is an odd hire if Larry Bird wants the Pacers to play faster). But…

Frank Vogel wants you to know he did not beg for his job.

At the post-firing press conference of Pacers’ coach Larry Bird, he said that Vogel basically begged for his job. Vogel, speaking on ESPN Indianapolis Radio’s Dan Dakich Show Tuesday, via the Indianapolis Star:

Larry’s going to speak his mind. A lot of people talked to me about it who didn’t like that and it’s probably an inaccurate perception that I was begging him to stay. … I fully respect Larry and the process. He knew it was going to be an unpopular move but he did what he had to do.

“I felt like we were on the verge of some big things. We stood toe-to-toe with a 56-win team. I told my team after the series that were poised … I felt like I was going to be able to do that with this group. That was my only mention to Larry.”

Again, this is all moot.

The reality is Vogel was never Bird’s guy, Bird wanted the Pacers to play faster than they did last season (11th in the NBA in pace), and Bird thought it time for a change. He’s the team president, it’s his call.

But did Bird make the Pacers better with this move? Begging discussion aside, that is the question to which he must answer.

Kobe Bryant texts Draymond Green, says making history is not easy

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The Golden State Warriors made history — they won 73 games, more than any team in NBA history.

But they are on the verge of being remembered like the 2007 Patriots.

The Warriors are down 3-1 to the Thunder for a variety of reasons — the Thunder defense has been exceptional, Russell Westbrook is a beast, for whatever reason Stephen Curry is not playing like MVP Stephen Curry — but there is another key one:

Draymond Green has played like crap the last couple games.

Kobe Bryant, who relates to Green’s drive and intensity, texted him a message according to Sportando:

That reflects Kobe’s world view.

It may be very different from the Warriors’ reality — even if Curry and Green were back to playing at their peak, it very well might be a coin toss with this Thunder team playing at their peak. The struggles of those two — Green has turned the ball over, missed shots, and missed defensive rotations for two games — have a lot to do with the quality of play of that Thunder defense.

But if the Warriors can come back and win the series (and the title), it will add to their legend.

Report: Grizzlies offer David Fizdale head coaching job

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This is a quality hire, a respected long-time NBA assistant who has deserved a shot in the big chair.

But is he an upgrade over Dave Joerger?

Apparently the Grizzlies are betting that Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale is the man they need. From Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Casual fans may not know his name, but this could be a good hire for Memphis. Fizdale is an assistant coach with a quality franchise who has paid his dues and deserves a chance. For example, in Miami Fizdale had won the trust and respect of a team full of players that had won rings. He was a guy they leaned on. As an example, Fizdale worked hard with LeBron James on developing a post game; he was the guy LeBron trusted.

But how will he deal with an aging roster that lacks shooting? The Memphis job is a good one, but it has its challenges.