The other day I was joking with a friend that trading Mayo for draft picks and an expiring contract didn’t make sense because the Grizzlies would likely screw the pick with Heisley in the war room. Besides it would likely be a non-lottery pick anyway I reasoned and what good would that do the Grizzlies? The Grizzlies haven’t had a good draft since Pau and Shane came the first year in Memphis after all.
It was a bad day and I had a bad attitude. I wasn’t serious at the time. I don’t believe the Grizzlies will blow every draft pick the team makes.
Then I started thinking about the drafts the Grizzlies have had since Chris Wallace came to town (and Micheal Heisley began to get involved in all decisions with the franchise) and something came to my attention. The Grizzlies have had four lottery picks in that time (Conley, Mayo, Thabeet and Henry) and four players taken outside of the lottery (Young, Arthur, Carroll and Vasquez).
Three of the fourlottery picks are contributing little to nothing for the team right now. Three of the four non-lottery picks are contributing to the team right now in a very real way.
So what’s been different that the team can be so successful with late picks under Wallace but fail so dramatically with the early picks?
Taking Micheal Heisley as a man of his word then Michael Heisley is the answer. Heisley doesn’t bother himself with late picks. He told me that himself. He gets involved with the lottery picks but allows Chris Wallace and the basketball people to make the later selections. If we are to assume Micheal Heisley tells the truth, and he has challenged me many times to find an instance where he misrepresented the truth, then Heisley get the credit/blame for the lottery picks but Wallace gets full credit/blame for the non-lottery picks.
And the Grizzlies have had success with thenon-lottery picks but not the lottery ones this season overall. Doesn’t it make sense that Heisley start to admit that he isn’t helping the team by being in the war room as anything more than a casual observer? Look at the last four drafts after all.
Conley is starting to produce like the team hoped on draft day but Wallace had only been with the team a week before the draft and Marc Iavaroni, another choice of Heisley, was already there. Heisley hired the head coach before hiring the coach’s boss. Conley, who until this season can only be described as a disappointment, was not a Wallace choice obviously.
O J Mayo was traded for by the Grizzlies after Wallace and Heisley saw him work out in Chicago. If you remember, Mayo wouldn’t come to Memphis and work out with other players. Apparently both men where impressed by Mayo’s individual workout and when Minnesota offered to unload some worthless players with big contracts (Marco Jaric and Antoine Walker) with Mayo for Mike Miller, Kevin Love and Brian Cardinal (all who are playing in the NBA today by the way) the Grizzlies brain trust, and that includes Mr. Heisley who was in the room that night, pulled the trigger and probably shot themselves in the foot in the process. Was this a Wallace decision or a Heisley decision knowing that Heisley was in the room and likely on the phone at the time. Heisley made the final decision either way.
Later in the evening, Wallace got busy himself and traded Donte Green for Darrell Arthur in a three way deal. Wallace’s deal didn’t cost the Grizzlie any bad contracts either. Darrell Arthur started games as a rookie and after basically missing his 2nd season with an injury has become a major contributor off the bench for the Grizzlies this season.
Then comes the terrible 2009 draft. Hasheem Thabeet was all Micheal Heisley. The story goes that Tony Barone wanted Thabeet, Hollins and Wallace wanted to go small (Curry and Evans respectively). Heisley made the final decision and chose Thabeet. Then, if we believe Heisley’s own words, he stepped back and allowed Wallace and the rest of the front office and coaches pick the other players. DeMarre Carroll hasn’t panned out but Sam Young has done very well this season and looks promising as a player. Carroll actually played quite well in the D-League too so even if his future isn’t in Memphis, he will likely be playing pro ball for a long time.
That’s not bad for picks late in what was expected to be a weak draft.
This past summer’s draft may be premature to rate but Henry was given every opportunity to perform and failed in that role while Vasquez has had to earn every minute he’s played and did that too. Henry was the lottery pick and Vasquez was clearly Wallace’s guy. It’s been suggested that Wallace was lobbying for Patrick Patterson with that pick instead of Henry. Considering the make up of the team and the uncertainty about Darrell Arthur’s recovery from shoulder surgery, a PF such as Ed Davis (13th pick), Patrick Patterson (14th pick) or Larry Sanders (15th pick) makes a lot of sense at #12 and all of those players are outperforming Henry right now.
Then you consider the Grizzlies traded the 25th pick in the draft for Heisley’s favorite player (and no I don’t mean Allen Iverson or Jason Williams). He drafted Dominigue Jones to trade him to Dallas for cash considerations.
I can’t believe Wallace prefered cash to the Big East player of the year.
Isn’t it time Heisley allowed Wallace to run a draft his way and see what happens?