I had this great blog ready to run about the Rudy Gay trade rumors. Then the Grizzlies actually pulled off the deal. I felt it was dead so I shelved it.
Then I realized it wasn’t dead at all. Just because the rumors became fact doesn’t change the reality that someone has been leaking news to the media prior to deals being announced, I feel that is a big problem for the Grizzlies franchise. So despite it’s rather delayed angle, here is the original blog.
Who Is Talking?
I could go on longer but the point is clear. The rumor mill is alive with what sounds like inside information on trade proposals for and from the Memphis Grizzlies.
Now rumors are a part of every successful team’s portfolio. The Grizzlies are successful this season so rumors about trades come with the territory. It is unusual however to hear that a team competing for home court advantage in the playoffs would be breaking up their core. It’s unusual but not unheard of.
That isn’t the only reason the rumors this year feel different. It’s not the number or stories or the team’s record that make it seem so strange. It’s the curious similarity of the rumors.
It’s as if these reporters have an inside source. What’s worse is the source seems to be coming from the Grizzlies front offices. In fact, after the Suns rumor never developed, Peter Vescey actually tweeted that that Grizzlies front office was creating bad karma by all their leaks about potential trades.
Now Peter Vescey tweets a lot, and I mean a whole lot, so his comments shouldn’t be taken too seriously but it appears that the press is feeling that anything they want to know they can find out from the Grizzlies. It has gotten so bad that the press is actually being critical of them for leaking!
That is a big difference from the days when Mike Heisley ran the team. Heisley had a firm rule that no one talks to the media about things being discussed in their offices. Heisley fumed once when discussing a trade with the Clippers that no sooner had the words left his mouth that he was reading it on ESPN. He hated insiders leaking information. Heisley once said if he found out anyone inside the Grizzlies organization was talking to the press he would fire them.
That isn’t the case anymore.
Now the Grizzlies have two former agents and a former sports columnist running things and there isn’t a leak coming out of the Grizzlies offices, it’s a downpour. The last time people saw leaks like this Noah built himself a boat.
Fans of the Grizzlies aren’t used to this type of negotiating and it is having an effect. The team isn’t used to this type of negotiating and it is having an effect on them as well. One has to wonder when these effects are going to start becoming a serious distraction that hurts the bond the team has formed with the community.
Right now no one knows who is starting the rumors. The reporters aren’t talking because they know if they revealed their source(s) that communication line will be closed. Still there aren’t a lot of potential sources. Just yesterday Ron Tillery stated “Griz brass expected better trade proposals for Gay after finalizing a multiplayer deal with Cleveland earlier this month.” It’s hard to see where that comment comes from if not the mouth of someone inside the Grizzlies front office.
The most obvious person would be John Hollinger. Hollinger came to the Grizzlies from ESPN after all and has a strong connection to the reporters covering the NBA. Hollinger’s impact is already chafing Coach Hollins who came out to the media himself to say:
“Analytics has a place. It can’t be the be-all, end-all. I’m still trying to figure out when the Oakland Athletics won a championship with all the analytics they have. It takes talent.”
Sounds like Hollins is getting tired of Hollinger’s recommendations based on that comment, but is Hollinger the insider leaking trade rumors? I tend to discount that. Hollinger is a numbers guy and a rookie in the front office. He doesn’t seem like the type of person, and I have talked to him some, that would be leaking reports to the press. I could be wrong but I feel this isn’t Hollinger leaking stories.
There is always Chris Wallace. Wallace was here when Heisley lowered the boom on rumors after so many stories were getting out. He may have been the source of leaks before. Not that Heisley is gone maybe Wallace has gone back to his old ways, if those were his ways.
The problem is no one knows who leaked stories before so we don’t know if that person is still with the franchise. One thing we do know is that Pau Gasol didn’t go to Wallace to ask for a trade when he wanted out of Memphis but he surely would have been informed and shortly after Gasol mentioned the desire to be traded it was out in the Memphis papers. Was it Gasol? Was it Wallace? It certainly wasn’t Heisley who was furious when the story broke.
Wallace definitely could be the source of rumors considering he has more-or-less been demoted within the new administration. His clout is nowhere near what it used to be.
Then you have Jason Levien and Stu Lash. Levien and Lash are old buddies from their days as sports agents and have experience with reporters. It has always been suggested that agents use reporters to leak stories in an attempt get their players better deals or even to force trades to more desirable locales. Are the Grizzlies front office agents using reporters now to drum up interest in trades now?
It’s all confusing and the casual fans will likely never know the truth and this blog isn’t trying to figure out where the leaks are coming from. Rather, we just wanted to point out how much things have changed in the last few months in regards to the media.
A few hours after I finished writing this blog the trade was announced.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like the trade. I just felt it could and should have been negotiated in secret far more effectively and more efficiently. It’s possible that the price tag would have been higher for Rudy if not for all the publicity about the Grizzlies wanting to trade him.
It’s very likely the trade wouldn’t have been completed when it was. The timing was terrible with back to back games against the Thunder and Wizards on the schedule. It is my sincere hope that the Grizzlies front office learned something from this situation and handle things more professionally in the future.