Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
The Memphis Grizzlies have had a very rough start to their 2011-12 campaign. After having such a great showing in the playoffs last year, the Grizzlies came into the season with great expectations, with some even believing they’d make it to the Western Conference Finals. But then Darrell Arthur, who was a key piece in their post-season success last year, tore his Achilles in practice a week before the season began, which took away the team’s biggest strength: their trio of successful big men.
Memphis was able to sign Dante Cunningham, who does some of things Arthur can do just not as often, but the injuries wouldn’t stop there. No more than 10 seconds into their match-up against Oklahoma City last Wednesday, Mike Conley hurt his ankle and was forced to miss two games, one of which the Grizzlies lost by 40 to the Bulls. Conley did get back onto the floor as a reserve against Sacramento the other night but it’s unclear if he is back to 100%.
And in that 40 point loss to the Bulls, Zach Randolph suffered a knee injury. Initially it wasn’t believed to be serious but it has now been announced that Randolph tore his ACL and will now miss a couple of months. Talk about bad luck.
The Grizzlies acted quickly after they learned of Randolph’s injury, initiating a three-team deal with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Orleans Hornets. The centerpiece of the deal is center Marreese Speights, who Philly sent to Memphis in return for two second round draft picks – one from Memphis in 2012 and the other from New Orleans in 2013. The Hornets, who are still looking for as many bodies as they can get, received shooting guard Xavier Henry from the Grizzlies, making him the second guard they’ve acquired from Memphis this season (with Greivis Vasquez being the other).
Many thought Speights had a future in the league as a solid big man after his rookie campaign. In limited minutes Speights was an effective offensive player but his defense was questionable, as it often is with young players. But after another two seasons, it has become apparent that Speights is not a willing defender and even with a good defensive coach in Doug Collins leading the team, he was apparently against leaning from him. He still has ability – he’s never shot below 41% from 16-23 feet during his career and averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes last season – and perhaps he’ll like it better in Memphis, where getting stops isn’t preached as often as getting steals.
If a change of scenery inspired Speights to grow up a bit, that could be huge for the Grizzlies, who are currently playing Josh Davis nine minutes a game. But until Speights proves himself as more than a mid-range jumpshooter, he will forever be known as the PER36 king in my heart.
Xavier Henry was the 12th overall pick in the 2010 Draft for the Grizzlies but didn’t get a ton of burn during his rookie season. Henry was raw offensively when he got onto the floor for Memphis last year but he has the size and athleticism to be a good defender. I like what the Hornets are doing. Under Monty Williams, Henry could potentially be a very good defensive stopper that plays 20-25 minutes a night behind Eric Gordon.
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