A Prince of a Man
The most well-known player who came to Memphis in the trade that sent Rudy Gay and Hamed Haddadi north of the border is Tayshaun Prince, the former Kentucky Wildcat and member of the Detroit Pistons championship team that shocked the heavily favored Lakers back in 2004. We wanted to get some info on how Prince will adjust to playing for the Grizzlies, so Chip Crain turned to Dan Feldman of fellow TrueHoop blog PistonPowered to get his thoughts on the matter.
Chip Crain: Tayshaun Prince has been a Piston his entire career. How affected mentally is he likely to be with this move?
Dan Feldman: Purely speculative, but I’d guess it’s a culture shock to be traded from the only NBA team he’s ever played for. I’d think Prince would have a good attitude with the Grizzlies. Their style — defense first, slow-paced — fit him, and Memphis’s winning should keep Prince positive. I think most of Prince’s negative-attitude incidents stemmed from not being able or willing to healthily handle losing, but he shouldn’t be faced with that in Memphis.
CC: Is Prince still capable of being that player he was from the 2004 Championship team?
DF: No. Prince hasn’t played at that level in five years. He’ll turn 33 this month, and he’s aging like all players do. He can still be effective, and he’s still best in the complementary role he’ll play in Memphis, but he’s not immune to the affects of aging. He doesn’t defend or rebound as well as he once did.
CC: What direction do you see the Pistons going this summer? Will they continue a youth movement or
will they use their cash to load up on veterans?
DF: Both. The Pistons probably need one more draft pick, this year’s lottery choice, to join their young core. After that, it’s about filling in the holes with veterans and getting better. The Pistons will likely target free agents who are good right now and still have potential to grow along side the Drummond/Monroe(/Knight) base.
CC: Five years ago, the Grizzlies former owner Mike Heisley stated he wanted to rebuild the team in the image of the Detroit Pistons. How closely do you believe the current team resembles the Pistons of old?
DF: There are certainly some similarities. Emphasizing defense, playing tough and having five solid starters stands out. The Grizzlies the last couple years might be the best comparison since the Pistons won the title.
CC: Do you think this deal puts the Grizzlies in position to make noise in the playoffs or not?
DF: This deal will hurt the Grizzlies slightly this season — downgrading the starting lineup and upgrading the bench. But if they were intent on cutting salary regardless, this was a good deal. Prince isn’t a huge drop from Gay, and Ed Davis can play. I already thought the Grizzlies were a title contender, and even if their odds have shrunk, I still consider them one.
Our thanks to Dan and PistonPowered for taking the time to shed some light on our new starting SF.
Chemistry? What Chemistry?
Speaking of attitudes and small forwards, Alex Kennedy has an interesting article on Hoopsworld about some alleged issues between Rudy Gay and the front office, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and the beer vendor in Section 115. Ok, one of those might be made up.
According to the article (Gay portion starts about halfway down), Rudy was tired of the constant trade rumors and welcomed being moved. Also, he and ZBo weren’t exactly best buds, and he’d had several run-ins with the All-Star post player who is known to be among the most popular players among fans and media members alike.
The timing of this trade starts to make a lot more sense when viewed through those filters, right?
Seemingly adding credence to that is Tayshaun Prince’s comment at 1:51 of this interview via Need4Sheed. Tip o’ the hat to the talented Nikki Boertman (@PhotoNikki) for pointing it out to me.
He says, “Man, Rudy Gay wants out?” in reference to the trade rumors swirling. Not “Memphis wants to trade Rudy”, but “Rudy wants out”. Notice the difference there. It is an important distinction.
Going back to Kennedy’s aforementioned article, we’re now hearing from more than a few sources that Rudy wasn’t enamored with staying in Memphis going back to his decision to sign a contract extension in 2010, but that he couldn’t have gotten the max money deal anywhere else, so that’s what made him stick with the Grizzlies. We’ll have more on that later today, but it is interesting to contemplate.