Today Ridiculous Upside broke the story that Grizzlies brass has decided to send Hasheem Thabeet to the NBA Developmental League. Because of Memphis's depth at center, it's likely that as long as Hamed Haddadi plays well, Thabeet would see little action.
Rookie waiver-wire pickup Lester Hudson, drafted then released by the Boston Celtics, will also be sent to the D-League. He also shows significant promise as a bench scorer, but lacks the awareness needed to earn minutes for this successful Grizzlies team.
Thabeet and Hudson will be playing for the Dakota Wizards, which is the closest thing to a minor league team for the Memphis Grizzlies. As the #2 player selected overall in this year's NBA Draft, Thabeet will also take the record for being the highest draft pick to ever play in the D-League.
But Thabeet's stay in the D-League might not last long, as Ridiculous Upside adds this information to the story:
The Dakota Wizards will play 7 games in the next 13 days before having a week off, leaving me to assume that Thabeet would be recalled at that time.
I like this move for the Grizzlies, even though it's bound to look horrible for an organization that is just beginning to regain its respect around the league. While the D-League certainly benefits from the attention this move will earn them, this has to kill any trade value Hasheem Thabeet might hold.
One distinct positive, though, is that sending both Huddy and Hasheem to the D-League could be a signal that the Grizzlies are interested in adding a late-season free agent. Several players are rumored to be negotiating buyouts, for instance Larry Hughes, that could fill a gap for the Grizzlies until Ronnie Brewer's return.
I know it sounds awful, but this move has been a long time coming. To me there's no question why this happened right after the trade deadline: nobody wants a D-League center, so once the time to shop him is over, he's fair game to be sent down.
Still, egos and trades aside, Thabeet is much better suited to develop with a lower level of competition than the NBA. The professional game clearly moves too fast for Thabeet, who even struggled at times in college. He will be able to better understand the fundamentals at a slower pace.
My one concern, though, is that the quality of coaching will probably significantly decline in the D-League. I don't know much about it, but I'm guessing the Dakota Wizards don't pay a high-caliber professional big man coach.
Fans need to remember that Thabeet
might have been obviously was a mistake to draft that high, especially with his questionable work ethic and attitude since coming into the Association, but he's not done as a player. The kid has incredible physical talents. Incredible.
The problem is that he doesn't play basketball. Hopefully going to the D-League will teach him that if you can touch the top of the backboard, there's no need to try to block a shot at the other player's hands below the rim. Hopefully he'll learn how to cut through the back-door, and, more importantly, defend against cutters. Hopefully it will teach him how to actually play the game.