Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE
Things in Memphis just got... weird?
Editor's Note: At some point overnight the Commercial Appeal revised the story to which this post links, and in that revision, the quotes from Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph were removed and quotes from Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien were added. There is no note on the CA piece saying it was revised. The quotes resurfaced this morning on the CA's sports blog. Now there's more on that here. SOV has reached out to the Commercial Appeal for comment.
This story is just hard to believe. But, according to Ron Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, new Grizzlies owner Robert Pera had invited Mike Conley and Marc Gasol to dinner, but -- here's the kicker -- he did not reach out to either Rudy Gay or Zach Randolph.
Griz CEO Jason Levien, who has declined requests from The Commercial Appeal to talk publicly about his plans for the team, has talked to Gay a few times about the team's situation. Levien's first question to Gay centered on whether the 6-8 forward still wants to be in Memphis.
Gay indicated his desire to continue as a Grizzly. Yet neither Gay nor Randolph received an invitation to dinner with team owner Robert Pera last week when the team concluded a three-game road trip at Golden State.
The response from Gay was more measured, saying, "It is what it is," before adding, "I just hope it wasn't my favorite restaurant!" Well-played, sir.
Randolph, on the other hand noted it didn't feel like anything personal, but then went on to say that he told the younger players, "It's not like they love you... It's business."
How true those words are.
While this story is a bit concerning on a million different levels, there is some reason for skepticism on how this whole thing went down.
First, yes, there are some who will note that Tillery is/was/will be a "Michael Heisley guy." He even took a few pot-shots at Pera on how he handled the transition -- namely, when Heisley was "disinvited" to speak to the fans prior to the handing over of the "keys to the kingdom." Maybe they were justified? Maybe not?
I don't want to go on about Tillery's relationship with the new management and ownership team, since beyond a few digs on Twitter and in print, I don't have anything substantial to run on.
The other point made, that's a little concerning in the coverage of this story, was presented by Chris Vernon via Twitter.
So the new Grizz owner talked with Conley + Gasol.So why are they not quoted?So it could be framed as a bad thing? commercialappeal.com/news/2013/jan/…— Chris Vernon (@ChrisVernonShow) January 18, 2013
God forbid Conley and Gasol might have said they liked the new owner and think things are headed in positive direction— Chris Vernon (@ChrisVernonShow) January 18, 2013
Again, this partially speaks to the theory that Tillery might have a bone or two to pick with Pera and company. But, to the larger point, it would make sense to have the perspective of either Gasol or Conley -- or both -- for the purpose of telling the complete story. That, we can say.
What we know: Gay and Randolph are grown men, they're professionals, they're human, and they're not going to get bothered by this non-invite, so to speak, in a way that will instantly derail this team. Will it cause some disfunction within the locker room? Maybe.
But what I can say is, if it did go down as Tillery suggests, Pera and Jason Levien need a reset, and quickly. They can't go around picking a choosing, not when you're alienating two of the most talented -- and important -- players on your team.
That's just poor management.