Continuing our series of Q&A sessions with prominent bloggers from Clipper opponents, I sent some questions to Spartacus from the terrific Grizzlies blog 3 Shades of Blue. Below are his answers. I'll link to my answers to his questions as soon as the link is available, or you can just troll 3 Shades of Blue looking for them.
ClipperSteve: The Clippers (and many Citizens of ClipsNation) have longed coveted Mike Miller. There was a rumor yesterday (which probably started here on ClipsNation) that the Clippers had offered the expiring contracts of Sam Cassell and Aaron Williams, and the Grizz also wanted the Clippers 2008 first rounder. There's little doubt in my mind the Clippers would do this deal for any first round pick they have OTHER than that one. What are the odds that another Memphis star will end up in LA? Where do you think Miller is going to land?
Spartacus: While I do believe that Mike Miller will be traded before the start of next season, I don't see it happening until the offseason (probably during the draft) unless one of the contenders offer to overpay for his services. Of course, I'm the same guy who wrote a post detailing why the Grizzlies needed to keep Gasol one day before he got sent to La-La Land, so what do I know?
If he does get traded this season, I expect it to be to a contender, not to a lower tier team, which (unfortunately) the Clippers are this year. Owner Michael Heisley has made sure that players have "upgraded" when leaving this team over the last two seasons.
ClipperSteve: As opposed to the Clippers, the Grizzlies were well-represented in New Orleans for All Star weekend. With Rudy Gay, Mike Conley and Juan Carlos Navarro playing in the Rookie-Sophomore game, not too mention other young talents like Kyle Lowry and Hakim Warrick, how are you guys feeling about the post-Gasol era?
Spartacus: The future looks....if not tremendously bright, at least less bleak. The impressive talent that Rudy Gay and Mike Conley possess give fans great hope for the future. Hakim and Kyle are solid role players capable of entering the starting lineup when necessary. As I detailed the other day, even Darko Milicic is playing great since The Trade and could be a vital part of the future of this team. Factor in at least two first round draft picks this summer and this team could follow the same path that both Portland and New Orleans have had success with over the past few seasons. Of course, the Chicago Bulls also went that way and it didn't work out so well for them this year after a few seasons of marked improvement.
ClipperSteve: I'm curious as to how far the '3 Shades' crew goes back with this team? Any ties to the Vancouver era? Any 'Big Country' stories?
Spartacus: All of us on 3 Shades of Blue are Memphians, so we don't go quite that far back. ChipC3, MemphisX and myself have been on board since Day One and Zack moved here at the beginning of the magical 2003/04 50-win season, which made him a bona fide fan immediately. We don't have any Bryant Reeves stories, but we know things about Jake Tsakalidis that will curl your toes.
ClipperSteve: Two seasons ago, the Grizzlies and the Clippers were battling for the fourth best record in the Western Conference (OK, battling for the fifth best record). Now, the Grizzlies are holding a fire sale, while the Clippers are firmly in the lottery, but holding out hope that they can get back to that level after getting their players healthy. As someone who's been there, what's your assessment of the Clippers' situation? Any chance to compete in the West, or should they just get the inevitable rebuilding over with? Don't spare our feelings, we can take it.
Spartacus: I've actually taken a lot of interest in what the Clippers are doing this season....even though I couldn't tell you why. There is a lot of uncertainty facing the Clip Joint, as both Elton Brand and Corey Maggette can opt out of their contracts this offseason, Sam Cassell is gone, whether by trade before the deadline or as a free agent. In reality, they only have 6 players definitely under contract next season, although I expect Brand pick up his option to use next season to prove that he's healthy enough to earn another long-term deal next offseason.
In all honesty, after seeing what the Grizzlies have been through the last season and a half, my recommendation is to go ahead and rebuild. Use Chris Kaman (only 26 for the upcoming season), Al Thornton, Shaun Livingston (if he's finally healthy) and this year's draft pick as the foundation for future contention. Something we have discussed a lot in the wake of the Gasol trade is how the rest of the West has suddenly gotten older, paving the way for some of the young, talented teams to rise up through the ranks over the next 5 years, as the Suns, Spurs and Mavs begin to retool. The Lakers with Kobe, Gasol and Bynum will be formidable still, but the landscape should be ripe for the young up-and-comers like the Hornets, Jazz and Blazers to make the move to "elite status". With that in mind, it would probably be beneficial to realize it is best to plan for 3 years from now, rather than being "just good enough" to make the playoffs now and get bounced from the first round a couple of times.
Thanks for taking the time Spartacus! I think this may have been my favorite Q&A so far. The Grizzlies and Clippers have a lot in common. Here's hoping that the Clippers don't have to start the fire sale next January, but it's certainly a possibility.