Yeah, so there goes the boring days without Grizz basketball.
I was just about to continue my series on re-drafting all of the NBA Draft Classes since the Grizzlies moved to Memphis in 2001 when all hades broke loose. As everyone with a Beale St. Blue stained heart knows, this has been an eventful past few days in Grizz Nation to say the least. Stu Lash, former Assistant General Manager, as well as Jason Levien, former CEO, are both no longer with the organization. Much confusion and speculation came immediately after Marc Stein, broke the story, and our own Zach Thomas, even wrote up how he thought things may have went down. And if that wasn’t enough we even got news on Wednesday morning that current Grizz coach Dave Joerger was granted permission to interview for the Minnesota Timberwolves job, which has also opened up room for speculation. In this edition of Noise From The Sain Asylum, I won’t try to share my theory on how I think the whole thing may have went down, nor will I throw out a lot of reasons why you should cancel your season tickets. This is simply my reasoning for why everyone shouldn’t let their Grizz fur get in a bunch as a result of these recent events.
We don’t know much about Robert Pera. He rarely tweets, his radio interviews are mainly about his company, and he doesn’t say much at press conferences. But what we do know about Pera is that he is an active sports fan and also is by no means a novice as far as knowing the game. He is also an avid pick up game basketball player, to say the least, even to the point where he challenged Tony Allen as well as Michael Jordan to a game of one on one with confidence that he would actually well – beat them. Pera is confident even in times of perceived failure. Remember when everyone thought that he was headed towards being belly up when his company’s stock plummeted when he was first named to be in talks to buy the team? And now his net worth is as high as ever at over $2 billion. He’s a fighter and wants to be the best at all he does. Including having an NBA team that is the best in the league, which in my opinion is a good thing.
With Pera obviously being a basketball fan, maybe even to a fault, I’m sure that he watched the final games of the regular season as well as the playoffs through a similar lens that we as fans did. Now before I continue let me state that I thought that Dave Joerger did a phenomenal job in his rookie campaign as a head coach, but I can also see Pera in front of his 90 inch wide-screen tv, pondering similar questions that we as fans had. Why was Tayshaun Prince playing so many minutes? Why is the deepest Grizz team ever only playing a 9 man rotation? Why is Tony Allen (who is one of his favorite players as stated by Pera) STILL not starting after Lee’s long slump and Allen’s playoff performance? So now James Johnson and Jon Leuer can’t offer us ANYTHING right now after the seasons that they had? Why are we just now seeing the small ball lineups that we saw in game 7 against the Thunder? Why wasn’t Beno Udrih getting playing time before now? Wait, QPon was able to play and didn’t? and of course the obvious one – What in the world is going on with these rotations?
If Pera was truly looking at the end of the season like a fan as I propose, I’m sure that he also was disturbed by the fact that we were not able to close out the Thunder in the 1st round including losing a crucial game 4 and potential closing game 6. Both losses which occurred on our home floor. Losses that in my opinion, were the result of a team that flat-out didn’t have enough scoring options to compete with a team that even though they had two of the best players in the league, have a head coach that can’t get out his own way and left every opportunity for us to beat them. That has to be frustrating to a competitor like Pera. Frustrating to see that your team just may not have what it takes as constructed to be amongst the elite. Frustrating to have put the future of your team in the hands of a man who in his opinion may not have had his best interest or the interest of creating a championship level team at heart. I have no idea of all of the specifics that may have led to Levien and Pera parting ways but there seemed to be some trust and maybe even some loyalty issues there and Pera presumably did what he felt was best for the future of this franchise going forward.
Pera, who was rumored to be more in favor of hiring George Karl than Levien’s choice of Joerger, may also have been ultimately turned off by Joerger, who originally was known or said to be known for being an analytics based coach with an awesome mind for basketball, then turn around and coach based on feel just as much as his predecessor Lionel Hollins. Honestly, I can’t see how Joerger at times appearing to be the total opposite of what he sold himself to be could ever be a good thing or something that would work out in his favor. Pera reacted how many of us wanted to react as fans in the beginning of the season when things were in turmoil which even though I personally was patient I could understand why others, (which we see very well may have included Pera) were alarmed about whether or not they would get a return on their investment.
So now we stand with an interim GM in Chris Wallace, (and NO, I don’t want to see him making a single personnel move during that tenure outside of using iCloud to get the new guy his list of GM phone numbers.) and possibly in need of a new head coach if Minnesota decides to hire Joerger, who by many reports is the favorite. This perceived turmoil can make Pera look like a deranged lunatic or a man of vision that is determined to reach his goal of success. Personally, as I’ve stated before, I was a huge fan of the Pera ownership even before I knew who Jason Levien was and I believe that his original philosophy of finding a person or persons that can run his team and guide them and mold them in the way that he envisions will continue. I don’t think that he will pull a Jerry Jones and try to be hands on but I am certain that whoever is making the calls and whoever is on the sidelines will be someone who will contribute to Pera’s ultimate goal which is making this team not only a tough out in the playoffs that leaves it all out on the floor and serves you up a game that you will feel the next morning, but a legit title contender for years to come. Trust me I understand fan frustration and I know that timing is awful but frankly I can’t see how having an owner who cares about winning at all cost is a bad thing. And I’m not trying to speak for you but that seems pretty normal to me.
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