It seems as if the Memphis Grizzlies 2008 reboot, involving what has been called one of the worst trades in NBA history, came about because of what Derrick Rose and the Memphis Tigers were doing? It seems as if the answer to this question is kind of yes.
We all remember that the Memphis Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kwame Brown (BUST!), a couple of names that are less than sexy, and the rights to Pau’s little brother, and reigning defensive player of the year, Marc Gasol. The trade, at the time, seemed like one former Detroit Lions general manager, Matt Millen, was the mastermind of. Grizzlies’ general manager, Chris Wallace, not to be confused with deceased NYC hip-hop legend, Christopher “Notorious B.I.G” Wallace, caught loads of flack for a move that helped catapult the Lakers to two championships. But in hindsight, the deal looks to have worked for the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies developed Marc Gasol into one of the league’s premier centers, while teaming him up with Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and Toney Allen, to form the leagues most rugged defensive unit. And all of this came as a result of what Derrick Rose and the Memphis tigers were doing. Chris Wallace saw how big of a following the Tigers had in the Memphis area, and he decided to take a shot at rebuilding the Grizzlies, a move that has taken a dead franchise, and revitalized it into what most would consider a championship caliber team.
“You have to start rebuilding your momentum and re-creating your roles and we have a number of new faces,” general manager Chris Wallace said. “Because of the personnel and the dynamics of the organization, you hope that his transition is looser than if an outside person came in.”
“The hardest thing is going from 35, 36 or 38 wins to 50-plus wins, and going from a team that initially makes the playoffs to one that has staying power and becomes a team that the expectations are we’re not just going to make the playoffs, we’re actually going to go somewhere,” said Wallace, a former Celtics executive. “That’s the hardest jump to make. Our team has made that. We’ve become a fixture in the playoffs. The next step is a big one.”
Although it’s safe to say that the Lakers have still won this trade, Wallace did what many executives wouldn’t have had the stones to do. He took a shot at something big, and it panned out. He’s taken a laughing stock of a franchise, and given it’s fans some hope. Memphis is a loud place to play, and that’s because their fans believe in the product Wallace had put out on the floor. That means his mission has been accomplished.
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