I will admit, I’m not one to read into the radio interviews too much because coaches and front offices RARELY say anything of substance. However, I live and breathe this stuff. I love analyzing stuff. While I wouldn’t bet my future on Levien’s 13 minute interview, I took notice and came away with these 5 things.
If you’d like to listen to the interview for yourself you can do so by clicking this link: Jason Levien Interview 1-28-14
#1- Jason Levien likes Marc Gasol, A LOT! Multiple times Levien brought up how hard Marc worked to return to the court from his injury. He kept referring to his immediate impact on our team (which I think we all understand), his physical strength, and his impact on our success in the playoffs. He is a cornerstone of our team now and in the future and I believe our front office will do what it takes to keep him here.
#2- Not much was mentioned about Zach Randolph. Chalk this up however you’d like, but when Vernon inquired about the 5 front court players, Levien discussed Davis, Koufos and Leuer and their value at various times in the season and how they’ve won games for us. He then mentioned that by adding those guys onto a roster with a healthy Zach Randolph and healthy Marc Gasol, we would be well positioned to make noise in the playoffs. This was the only reference to Z-BO. I’m not going to read into it too much, just pointing it out. He only mentioned Quincy Pondexter one time, referring to injuries, too.
#3- Jason really likes our top 3 wings, Courtney Lee, Tony Allen & James Johnson. He said Courtney Lee and Tony Allen would make an incredible defensive backcourt, one that may not be topped league wide. I can’t argue that. If you’d like to read more in depth on the lineups and wing prospects, my 3 Shades of Blue colleague Steve Danziger did a great job breaking that down last week. I briefly noted this on twitter (which you can follow me here: @zacharytthomas) but I think more is being made of who starts than is necessary. It’s more a chemistry decision than a results decision to me. Moving on, Levien raved about James Johnson and jokingly wished he could give him a lifetime contract (though I’m not sure it was much of a joke). James Johnson will be an UFA come July 1 and the Grizzlies would then be bidding on his services along with every other team in the league. But Levien made clear he loves the guy and implied his desire to keep him. I would think there is no way to keep JJ, Davis & ZBO, however, going into next season. The front office & fans will have to understand that tough decisions will need to be made. While he did not say much about Tayshaun Prince & Mike Miller, he did say we still have to create minutes for those guys too, which is a good problem to have.
#4- I would guess there is no trade to be made at this point, though that could change in the next 3 weeks (NBA Trade deadline is Feb 20). Levien echoed my sentiments I wrote about at the end of my post game report Saturday night. What this team needs most right now is time to gel. There needs to be some rotational consistency. He seems to like this roster the way it is currently assembled and thinks it provides serious match ups for any potential playoff foe, and I agree. Yes, even with Tayshaun Prince & Mike Miller. As Chris Herrington pointed out in his pick and pop this morning (warning it’s behind the CA’s paywall), there is a place for them. If you’d like to read some trade possibilities and what may happen if the Grizzlies do decide to make a trade, read our fine Sr Editor Josh Coleman‘s post from Monday.
#5- Levien is invested into the success of Memphis. He is in New York to meet with JetBlue airlines execs, whom Memphis is suiting as an addition to Memphis International Airport, seeking a partnership with the Grizzlies. I’d think it’s safe to say, the team isn’t going to be moving anywhere anytime soon, so the few of you who still question that, just stop it. You look silly.
BONUS: Levien said to give Courtney Lee more time and we will love him even more than we do now, which I’m not sure is possible for me. However, he has been phenomenal thus far, on both ends of the court.
Those are my takeaways. I trust this front office and think what decisions they are making, is for the best interest of the franchise and our community. They want to win, now and forever, and so do I. As long as we share that common bond, I will support their decisions.
I’d love to know what you think. You can leave a comment here or share your thoughts on my twitter mentions.