Grizzlies hand Lakers third-straight loss

And according to ESPN’s John Hollinger, they can thank rookie Xavier Henry for slowing down Kobe Bryant for much of the game.

Memphis’ Xavier Henry checked the Lakers’ superstar for most of Tuesday night with little help, and the result was a 9-of-25 shooting night for Kobe and a 98-96 win for the Memphis Grizzlies.

While he wasn’t on the floor at the end for L.A.’s deja vu final possession — for the second season in a row in Memphis, Kobe kicked out to Ron Artest for a 3-pointer that missed at the buzzer — Henry was the protagonist during a stretch of 11 straight misses by Bryant midway through the game that allowed the Grizzlies to build a double-digit lead.

Henry wasn’t getting double-team support, either. He was one-on-one against Bryant for much of the night and, thanks to his size and discipline, largely held his own. The effort was so good Henry’s coach compared him to another player who has been known to limit Bryant.

“I remember when we interviewed [Henry] in Chicago,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said, “and I went away saying, ‘That’s Shane Battier all over again.’ He’s poised, he’s mature [and] he understands the big picture of what’s going on. That’s what you like to see in all your players coming into the league.”

It was a sweet win for the Grizzlies, who have been been the butt of jokes since the dreadful trade that sent Pau Gasol to L.A. and allowed the Lakers to win consecutive titles. Owner Michael Heisley continued his unintentional comedy act by trying to nickel and dime Henry after this year’s draft.

The Grizzlies are now 8-10 on the season and are sitting in the #10 spot in the West. The Lakers’ third loss sends them to 13-5 and the #4 spot in the conference.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

2010 NBA Preview: #16 to #20

Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash points down court after sinking a three-point shot against the Los Angeles Lakers during Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference finals in Phoenix, Arizona May 29, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

This year, I’m going to preview the NBA season by starting with the lowest of the low and working my way up to my Finals picks. If a franchise is a legitimate championship contender, I’ll focus on what stars have to line up for a title run. If a team is a playoff also-ran, I’ll identify the weaknesses that have to be shored up via trade, free agency or draft over the next couple of seasons to make it a contender. If a team is likely to miss the playoffs, I’ll take a look at the salary cap, and provide a blueprint for how the team should proceed in the near future to get back in the postseason.

#20: Charlotte Bobcats
One thing’s for sure – Larry Brown will have his team competing. But with the loss of Raymond Felton to free agency, Charlotte turns to D.J. Augustin as its starting point guard, while Shaun Livingston is expected to back him up. Unless the light suddenly goes on for one of these guys, the Bobcats are going to struggle to make the playoffs in the much-improved Eastern Conference. I think their main competition for the #8 spot is the Knicks, which should be interesting because the two teams play such different styles. Cap-wise, the Bobcats won’t have any financial flexibility until 2012 when Boris Diaw, Eduardo Najera, and (probably) Gerald Wallace come off the books. The Bobcats are in no man’s land. They’re not good enough to compete for a title, but just good enough to miss landing a sure-fire star in the lottery.

#19: Phoenix Suns
I feel bad for Steve Nash, who will likely go down as one of the greatest players never to play in a Finals. The former back-to-back MVP lost Amare Stoudemire to the Knicks, and the Suns replaced him with Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick. I do like the addition of Childress, but if they’re asked to play power forward, Turkoglu and Warrick are going to have a lot of trouble on the defensive end. If Phoenix can keep the incredible chemistry that it developed last season, the Suns could finish a few spots higher and compete for a playoff spot, but without Stoudemire’s finishing ability, the team is going to be overmatched most nights. Payroll-wise, the Suns will have the flexibility to add a good player next summer, but it will mean the loss of Jason Richardson, who is in the final year of his deal. Sadly, I think the days of Nash playing for a legit contender are over. It was fun while it lasted.

Read the rest of this entry »

Peek inside the head of an NBA owner

Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley is a character. He appeared on the Chris Vernon Show recently and got into a…um…spirited debate over whether or not the Grizzlies should exercise a little-known clause in the collective bargaining agreement that allows for teams to negotiate a performance incentive into rookie contracts.

Xavier Henry is still unsigned due to Heisley’s insistence on this performance incentive. Rookie contracts are generally ‘rubber stamp’ type deals where the player gets the max (120% of the rookie scale) and he signs immediately. Heisley claims that the Grizzlies are not the only team to use this strategy, but he was unwilling to name any names and I certainly haven’t heard of any other teams doing so.

On the show, Heisley is passive-aggressive, condescending and entertaining, and in addition to the Henry negotiations, he defends the Pau Gasol trade, the Zach Randolph acquisition, and his decision to draft Hasheem Thabeet over Ricky Rubio.

Matt Moore of CBSSports called the interview an ‘abject trainwreck,‘ while Chris Harrington of the Memphis Flyer called it ‘borderline-embarrassing.’

What are the Grizzlies doing with Xavier Henry?

Xavier Henry smiles after being selected by the Memphis Grizzlies as the 12th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft in New York, June 24, 2010. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Xavier Henry elected to sit out of summer league because his agent couldn’t come to terms on a contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

NBA rookies are slotted into a salary — a number that can be negotiated between 80 and 120 percent.

The Griz are offering Henry 100 percent of the rookie salary and have proposed that the additional 20 percent be earned through bonuses. Griz brass contend the incentives are easily attainable.

However, it has been customary for NBA lottery picks to receive 120 percent of the slotted salary without hurdles to leap.

So who looks bad in this case?

Both parties are to blame.

Griz owner Michael Heisley and Tellem seem to have engaged in a power struggle over relative chump change by NBA standards, and neither has Henry’s best interest at heart.

While it is standard for rookies drafted in the lottery to receive the maximum contract allowed, it is just as customary for rookies to play in summer league without a signed deal.

Teams pay for insurance to cover the player’s worth for that week. Memphis did just that so Vasquez could participate in summer league without a deal. Then, all parties go back to the negotiating table and get a contract done before training camp.

I was unaware of the 80%-120% range, so at least something good came out of this situation.

The writer blames ‘both sides,’ but the Grizzlies started this struggle by only offering 100% instead of the standard 120%. Henry may not respond the way other rookies have in the past, but there’s no doubt that the team started this conflict.

Meanwhile, Henry missed summer league and is now further behind the curve.

Discussing some smaller NBA moves, Part 2

Apr. 01, 2010 - Dallas, TEXAS, UNITED STATES - epa02101336 Orlando Magic player Marcin Gortat (C) gets a rebound against Dallas Mavericks players Dirk Nowtizki (L) from Germany and Brendan Haywood (R) in the first half of the game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas USA, 1 April 2010.

Want to read Part 1 first? Click here.

Mavs acquire Tyson Chandler, re-sign Brendan Haywood (6/$55 M).
Dallas missed out on Marcin Gortat last summer and in Chandler/Haywood they have a pretty good two-headed defensive center. If they split time and produce at 09-10 levels, the Mavs will get 14-14 and 2.7 blocks per game. But that production does come at a price. Chandler is in the last year of his deal ($12.6 M) and Haywood’s deal is fairly outrageous for a 30-year-old. The Mavs will need both players to produce if they hope to get past the Lakers’ talented bigs.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas is reportedly signing with the Heat. (2/vet’s min)
It’s not clear how much ‘Big Z’ has left in the tank, but at the veteran’s minimum, it doesn’t have to be much. The Heat just need Ilgauskas to play 15-20 minutes, protect the glass and hit his patented set shot. Veterans appear to be lining up to play with the Super Friends.

Kyle Lowry signs with the Cavs. (4/$24 M)
Byron Scott said he wants the Cavs to push the ball more and Lowry is a talented point guard who hasn’t had a chance to start, but has been productive in major roles for Houston and Memphis in his young career. Whether or not he starts for the Cavs remains to be seen. Mo Williams is still there and was an All-Star just two seasons ago. Also, Lowry is restricted and the Rockets have a week to match the Cavs’ offer. Update: It looks like the Rockets are going to match the offer. Daryl Morey always seems to get something for his assets, so maybe the two teams will make a trade.

Steve Blake signs with the Lakers. (4/$16 M)
Blake should be a nice fit in the Lakers’ triangle offense. He lacks the speed to beat guys off the dribble, but he’s a good passer (4.8 apg) and a solid spot up shooter (39% 3PT), two requirements to play alongside Kobe in L.A. With Jordan Farmar on the way out, Blake and Derek Fisher will likely split time at the point.

Tony Allen signs with the Grizzlies. (3/$10 M)
Jeff Van Gundy called Allen the best perimeter defender in the league, and the C’s curiously let him sign elsewhere for around $3 million a season. He is a very good defender. I watched him cover LeBron James, Vince Carter and Kobe Bryant in consecutive playoff series and he didn’t give up very many easy shots. Why Boston would let him go is beyond me.

Related Posts