In advance of the Grizzlies game, I exchanged another set of questions with the fine Grizzlies blog, 3 Shades of Blue. I know I learned something. For instance, I didn't realize that Lionel Hollins had been given an 18 month contract, although I probably should have.
ClipperSteve: The Grizzlies began the season with a glut of young point guards - Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry and Javaris Crittendon were all there, and some even thought that O.J. Mayo might be able to play some point. Now Lowry and Crittendon are both gone. So I have a few questions for you: Did you feel good about what you got back (a couple of first round picks, though neither seems likely to be high) for Crittendon and Lowry? Did the Grizz pick the right horse by giving the job to Conley? Does Mayo have any point guard in his future, or is he a pure shooting guard (I think I know the answer to that last one)?
3 Shades of Blue: I'm fine with what we got in return for both Critt and Lowry, which was the return of our heavily protected 1st round pick from the Wizards from the Juan Carlos Navarro trade the year before and Orlando's 1st round pick, respectively. Critt is...a project, to be kind and Lowry is Earl Watson, Part 2 in my opinion. So it goes without saying that I'm happy that they finally decided to give the keys to Mike Conley without having him "compete" to be the starter, when the job should have been his from Day One anyways. I thought the team did the right thing by having Damon Stoudamire start games last season, so that he didn't get thrown into the fire right away, but screwed things up by splitting time equally between Conley and Lowry, often pulling him after the most common of mistakes.
Mayo was a PG through Junior High and High School, but was moved to SG at USC as a necessity. In the same manner, he is the best SG the Grizzlies have, while they have a decent (at worst) PG in Conley, so he gets to play the 2 here in Memphis. Head coach Lionel Hollins actually came out and said that Mayo isn't a point guard...and I agree with him. I think that Mayo has some point guard-like skills, but ultimately believe that he is best served to be a SG similar to Dwyane Wade, where he can be a facillitator when he needs to be, but his primary focus is on scoring. Of course, that's just my opinion, and there are plenty out there that believe that O.J. would be even better if he was moved to the 1. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see what comes of that.
CS: Speaking of Mayo, we have a rookie shooting guard here in LA named Eric Gordon. Perhaps you've heard of him. Have you gotten to see him much? Can you compare and contrast his game to Mayo's? Did you ever think you'd see the day when the guy playing in Memphis had all the press, and the guy in LA was the relative unknown?
3SoB: I've seen Gordon play about 8 times this year and he is very impressive. I'd love to see a 3-point shooting contest between Gordon and Mayo, as they possess two of the most beautiful jumpshots in the game today. Gordon has an advantage over Mayo in the athleticism department, as he has a quicker first step and explosiveness, but Mayo seems to be able to create better, both for himself and his teammates. I think their relative levels of exposure has more to do with their respective teammates than any difference in their talent levels. Baron Davis and Zack Randolph command a lot more ink than Rudy Gay and Mike Conley do, after all.
CS: Sorry to ask Marko Jaric questions two Q&As in a row, but you have to admit, he's pretty fascinating right now. Marko has missed his last 21 field goal attempts heading into Tuesday night's game against the Lakers. He is 0 for 20 in six games since the All Star break, which just happens to be when he married Adriana Lima. So he's married to a Brazillian super model, and his jump shot has completely left him. Fair trade, right?
3SoB: That's a trade that I think any of us would be willing to make. Especially since he still gets paid, regardless of whether or not he ever hits another shot. LOL
CS: What's the latest on the head coaching job? Are they going to let Hollins start a season this time, or is he just the Designated Interim Coach for Memphis? If you were Chris Wallace, who would be on your short list? While you're at it, care to take a crack at fixing the Clippers' coaching situation?
3SoB: Hollins is on an 18-month contract, meaning that he will definitely be the coach through the 2009/10 season, and has a 3 year option after that, which the organization can exercise if they decide that he is "working out".
If I were Chris Wallace, my short list would be very short indeed. And it wouldn't include any of the guys collecting paychecks talking about the game that constantly pop up whenever an opening comes up either. That means no Jeff Van Gundy, Avery Johnson, Doug Collins, et al. No, I'd probably take a flier on Flip Saunders as a good coach to get a young team into the playoff picture. If that failed, then I'd probably look for someone outside the normal venues, such as international coach David Blatt or the Grizzlies own assistant, Dave Joerger. Both men have extensive head coaching experience and have been very successful everywhere they have been, as well as having reputations for being very creative and inventive with their schemes on offense and defense.
The Clippers problems start with Mike Dunleavy and end with Donald Sterling. One can be fixed...the other is much more difficult to extricate, unfortunately. My condolences on that.
Thanks for playing! Great answers as usual. Keep an eye on 3 Shades of Blue for ClipperSteve answers to their questions.