Unfortunately, I haven't been doing too many of these Q&A's this season, which is too bad because they're always a lot of fun, and provide a great perspective. I think you guys are going to particularly enjoy the Q&A that 3 Shades of Blue posted for this game - they asked their questions of both myself and Kevin from ClipperBlog, so you have your two favorite Clipper bloggers insights collected in one place. (Kevin, pithy and succinct, Steve, verbose and detailed.)
Here are the questions I asked of Joshua Coleman at 3SoB. Check them out before the game, and be sure to link over there to read what Kevin and I had to say.
ClipperSteve: It's been 1 year and 5 days since Pau Gasol was sent to the Lakers. Break it down for me with the benefit of some elapsed time. How do you feel about it one year on? Marc Gasol is obviously playing well. But the Kwame money is pretty much just sitting there.
3SoB: With each day that goes by, I actually grow to like the Pau Gasol deal more and more. Marc Gasol and Darrell Arthur (acquired with the Lakers' first round pick from that trade) are both playing well -- and the ability to get D.A. is what made it possible to give up Kevin Love to get O.J. Mayo. Cause and effect can be a wonderful thing if you know how to trace things back up the line. : )
I realize that plenty of fans of other teams are still annoyed that Chris Wallace "handed" the Lakers a great piece, but as he said in a recent interview with us, you cannot base trades on what it does for the other team. You make trades to improve your own team, which is what he did then and continues to do. It hasn't paid immediate dividends, but it looks promising for the future.
CS: Marko Jaric, Quinton Ross and Darius Miles. You added three former Clippers in one season. You may have already picked up on this, but I'm not sure that building your team around former Clippers is the way to go. I notice that Marko has actually gotten some minutes lately - I'll assume that's because Lowry is hurt and Crittenton is gone. How has he looked? Marko did some things very well when he was a Clipper - he's a good defender and gets his hands on a lot of balls. Has he learned how to finish plays? How has Darius played? Tell the truth - Wallace just did it to Pritch-slap the Blazers, right? Thanks for that. We owe you one.
3SoB: LOL -- I won't say that picking up the Clippers' leftovers was actually part of the plan, but it has worked out well for the Grizzlies this year. Marko was actually our best point guard at the start of the season, but didn't get much playing time because this season was supposed to be about developing talent for the future more than wins and losses. That's something that is difficult for many fans to accept, but it has become increasingly obvious that Marko Jaric is much better at PG than the SG/SF role that he was shoehorned into during the first half of the season. Jaric still isn't a great finisher and he still looks to pass more than shoot (sometimes to a fault), but he has played very well when given playing time at PG. With Lowry expected to be out for a few weeks, I think that Memphis fans will grow to appreciate his contributions even more than they ever thought possible.
Ross and Miles have been solid contributors, although many outsiders simply see them as cheap veterans to fill out the roster. Darius was actually signed because he's better than any other frontcourt player on the free agent market or in the D-League. The fact that it takes Portland out of the offseason free agent bonanza is just a great bonus for us and the other 28 teams in the league.
CS: You alluded in your questions for me about inferiority complexes. I do wonder if our two organizations are viewed as less professional than other teams. When contracts were about to be guaranteed a month ago, Chris Wallace traded for Shaun Livingston (hey, another former Clipper!) and then waived him in a straight money making deal. The Clippers did the same thing with Hassan Adams as well as Cheikh Samb (although they kept Samb). At the time, I blasted the Clippers for looking amateurish on the Adams deal. Truthfully, I liked the way Wallace handled it better - at least he was honest and said, "Hey, we made a little money." But doesn't it make our organizations look petty to be making these nickel and dime deals, helping other teams circumvent the salary cap rules? Is this part of the problem for the Clippers and the Grizzlies?
3SoB: I think that it does affect how the rest of the league views us, but in Memphis' case as one of the smallest markets in the league, it only makes sense to improve the bottom line at every opportunity. If our front office can get teams like the Heat (Shaun Livingston) and Rockets (Steve Francis) to pay off the contracts of the players they are sending us, plus a little extra, why should I care that it helps the owner out? I don't understand why it is that most fans don't recognize that even though most owners are billionaires, nobody likes losing money and professional sports franchises are still a business. Michael Heisley hasn't made a profit on this team over the last few years and I'd like him to be willing to spend money when the team is ready to return to the ranks of playoff competition, so I'm absolutely willing to let him sign off on "nickel and dime deals" this year when we are obviously going to be awaiting the bounce of lottery balls.