When the NFL lockout was going on, various players started organizing practices for teammates to keep them in rhythm with one another. You haven’t heard anything like that on the NBA level because 1. it’s still the offseason for most guys and 2. NBA players aren’t as tight-knit, traditionally, as NFL players. But apparently Memphis is the exception. SLAM online talked with Tony Allen, and Allen hinted that the Grizzlies might get some work in together in the next few weeks. Most surprising was who Allen said was orchestrating it.
SLAM: Are you planning on working out with any of the Grizzlies over the summer?
TA: It’s cool you asked that because Zach just texted me and said he was trying to round the guys up and get them into one city for a good week-and-a-half or something. So I’m waiting on a call. I’m pretty sure in the next week or so we’ll try to get together as a team to find out if we’re going over the water or we’re staying here.
That last part is equally interesting, unintentionally. This isn’t what Allen meant, but what if the Grizzlies went overseas as a unit? There’s nothing preventing the entire team from playing somewhere. It’s a weird idea that hasn’t been mentioned before. Meanwhile, the fact that it’s Randolph leading the charge speaks to how much things have changed in Memphis. Randolph has been mentioned as a player who could pack on the pounds during a lockout and instead he’s organizing a workout for his teammates. It’s just a week and a half, and in all honesty, it’s so far away from the start of the season, there’s not much impact that can be had right now.
But it’s still another sign of the leadership role Randolph has taken on at this stage in his career, and how close the Grizzlies still are as a team.
Report: Derrick Rose away from Cavaliers, evaluating his future in basketball
Rose has been out with what seemed like a relative minor, for him at least, ankle injury. The 29-year-old could stick in the league for a while thanks to his reputation and ability to attack the rim to create shots for himself. But the guard is a shell of peak form after years of more serious injuries. This isn’t the career anyone expected for him when he was named the youngest MVP ever in 2011.
The Suns made Mike James – a 27-year-old rookie on a two-way contract – their starting point guard.
Though he eventually ceded the role to Tyler Ulis, James – the only player on a two-way contract to start an NBA game – is still a rotation regular. He’s an aggressive defender and possesses plenty of offensive moves.
The problem: Unless demoted to Phoenix’s minor-league affiliate before then, he’ll max out the 45 allowable NBA days for a two-way player Dec. 6.
We’d still like to get him on the 15-man roster and we’re looking at different ways to do that.
The Suns can unilaterally convert James’ two-contract into a standard one-year minimum deal. Both sides could also negotiate a longer contract.
The bigger issue is clearing a roster spot.
Phoenix has the maximum 15 players with standard contracts with no obvious cuts. Derrick Jones Jr. doesn’t play much, but the 20-year-old’s athleticism creates intriguing upside. Second-rounder Davon Reed is hurt, though teams rarely cut bait so quickly.
The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.
However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.
“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”
This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.
Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.
Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.