The Memphis Grizzlies believe after their multi-team trade a few weeks ago that shed payroll and gave the organization a few solid players, they now have what it takes to make a deep playoff run similar to the one in 2011. Do the Grizzlies have a legitimate shot at a Western Conference championship berth?
Many people outside of Memphis are not buying into the hype for the simple fact that they got rid of their top scorer in what looked to be a move for the ownership to save money. However, owner Robert Pera says that could not be further from the truth as the team is committed to bringing a NBA title to the city of Memphis and not turning a profit.
“I run my real business, Ubiquiti Networks, definitely for profitability,” Pera said. “For the Memphis Grizzlies, I definitely don’t want to profit in any way. The primary goal is to win and to make the City of Memphis proud. You can’t be cheap, and I don’t think we are cheap.”
Fans of the Grizzlies have to be excited to hear their owner say that about their team, especially after many league executives excused ownership of trying to cut corners to save money. However, fans are still a bit weary after seeing their best player (among others) leave the team in favor of Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, Jon Leuer and Ed Davis.
Not saying that these players cannot work together and help Memphis win games but none of them can match Gay’s talent on their own.
However, Pera is optimistic that just because the team lost their top scorer does not mean they are worse off for it. In fact, he believes the team is better constructed and therefore has a better chance of going the distance.
“With the latest trades, the personnel moves, how the team is constructed, I think it has the potential to be the best Grizzlies team yet,” Pera said. “I really like how the pieces now fit kind of the traditional inside-out game. I think if they gel, then hopefully this could be the best playoff run yet.”
Obviously, in order for this to work, power forward Zach Randolph is going to have to go off just like he did in 2011 when the Grizzlies stunned the No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs and almost knocked off the Oklahoma City Thunder in seven games. Gay was injured during the postseason that year, which proves the team is clearly capable of doing great things without him as long as other players step up when their name is called.
Memphis currently sits in the fourth seed in the West with a 33-18 record. There is still plenty of work to do with half of a season still left on the schedule but it appears the team is moving in the right direction. As long as Randolph and center Marc Gasol can be the attention grabbers in the middle and score points in the paint, outside shooters Prince and Mike Conley should be able to score at a high enough rate from beyond the arc to keep opposing defenses honest.
It will be exciting to see what kind of noise the Grizzlies make down the stretch, as they were one of the more exciting postseason teams to watch in recent memory during their run in 2011.