The Memphis Grizzlies franchise history is filled with "What Ifs", much like every other NBA Franchise, but the Grizzlies seem to have an abundance for a team that is 14 years old. There has been so much debate lately about the "what ifs" that it felt like it was time to rank the biggest ones in Grizzlies history.
10. What if AI hadn't been so selfish?
Allen Iverson signed with the Grizzlies with the expectation of starting so sitting on the bench did not sit well with the former star. Iverson left the Grizzlies after three games due to "personal matters" (AKA He wanted to play 30 minutes and get up about 15-20 shots per night). There are few people who love Allen Iverson more than me, but there is no convincing me that he didn't leave the Grizzlies for selfish reasons.
If he had stayed and conformed to the team concept than I feel like he could have been in contention for the sixth man of the year award. He would have scored 15 points per game while dishing out around 5 assists off the bench. Injuries would have still forced the Grizzlies out of the playoffs that year, but Iverson would have proven that he could still play in the NBA. The Grizzlies would have paid him the money that was supposed to be given to Tony Allen that summer and that would be the beginning of the end for his run with the Grizzlies. Iverson's play would take a huge dip and that means his attitude is going south as well. The Grizzlies miss the playoffs the next season after the Rudy Gay injury and AI stops contributing. Now the Grizzlies are saddled with an unhappy Iverson until his contract expires. Sometimes it's good that someone decided to be selfish.
9. What if the Grizzlies had gotten a better deal for Rudy Gay?
That Rudy Gay deal isn't looking so great now, is it? Trading Rudy Gay Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis and a second round pick that ended up being Jamaal Franklin seemed like a great trade at the time. Now Prince is on the verge of getting booed off the court every time he touches the ball, Davis is a Laker and Franklin has looked lackluster in two summer leagues I'd say the Grizzlies may be regretting this trade. Considering that Gay was seen to some people that were not me as a potential superstar the haul should have been better.
The Grizzlies could have traded Rudy Gay for a variety of people. There were so many rumors swirling at the time that it was impossible to know where he was going. At the time my favorite trade that involved Gay was Luol Deng for Rudy Gay. The Grizzlies and Bulls will never admit to this being discussed, but knowing the Grizzlies infatuation with Deng it had to have been discussed. Derrick Rose was out for the year with a torn ACL and the Bulls were in need of some perimeter scoring and seeing as they had shopped Deng before this deal wasn't crazy. Deng would help the Grizzlies advance to the Western Conference Finals in 2013 in the same type of role as Prince.The Grizzlies would eventually fall to the Spurs in 7 games, but not after pushing them to the brink. He would be so overjoyed that he was on a team where the coach wasn't trying to kill him that he would sign an extension after the season. This last season would see the Grizzlies be able to keep their head above water without Gasol due to the Deng, ZBo combination. They would go into the playoffs with the 5 seed and make it to the Western Conference Finals for the second straight year, but lose in 5 games. Gay in Chicago would be so entertaining. Coach Tom Thibodeau would get so fed up with him and his lack of defense that he would be traded before the draft for a lottery pick.
8. What if the Grizzlies had drafted ANYONE BESIDES Thabeet?
These are all players that were picked after Hasheem Thabeet:
- James Harden
- Tyreke Evans
- Ricky Rubio
- Stephen Curry
- Jordan Hill
- DeMar Derozan
- Brandon Jennings
- Gerald Henderson
- Tyler Hansbrough
- James Johnson
- Jrue Holdiay
- Ty Lawson
- Jeff Teague
- Darren Collison
- Taj Gibson
- Dante Cunningham
- Sam Young
- Dejuan Blair
- Jodie Meeks
- Patrick Beverley
- Marcus Thronton
- Chase Budinger
- Nick Calathes
- Danny Green
- Patty Mills
If the Grizzlies had not picked Thabeet the most likely picks were going to either be Ricky Rubio or Stephen Curry. That most likely would have been the beginning of the end of Mike Conley. He most likely would have become a free agent and the Grizzlies would not have re-signed him. Now that would look foolish as Mike Conley has developed into one of the top 10 Point Guards in the NBA. At the time he was seen as a project to everyone, nobody saw him developing this way. If the Grizzlies had chosen Rubio, who knows when he would have left Spain to play in Memphis. He would not have meshed well with this team one bit. Stephen Curry on the other hand would have been the perfect pick. Even if his ankles are made of paper mache, he is a great three point shooter that is becoming a superstar. With all that being said, if the he Grizzlies had not taken Thabeet they still would have messed this draft up.
7. What if the Grizzlies hadn't traded Kevin Love?
Kevin Love was drafted by the Grizzlies in the 2008 NBA draft. Shortly after being drafted he was involved in a trade for OJ Mayo. The OJ Mayo experiment started out well, but the player that a good friend of mine once called "The Next Kobe" was ruined by Lionel Hollins. While Hollins ruined Mayo's Grizzlies career, Love has excelled in Minneota. He is one of the top 10 players and arguably the most talented Power Forwards in the league.
Kevin Love may not have shed his doughy exterior and become the player he is today under Lionel Hollins. If he had the combination of Gasol, Randolph and Love would have been the best frontcourt in the NBA. Love can play next to either Randolph and Gasol and spread the floor. The problem is that the Grizzlies would have had to decide who to pay between Randolph and Love. Choosing Love means losing Randolph and vice versa. They would have let Randolph walk and signed Love. Signing him to a max deal would have meant having one of the best young cores in the NBA. This would also mean that Lebron James and Andrew Wiggins are stuck together whether Lebron likes it or not.
6. What if the Grizzlies never traded Pau Gasol to the Lakers?
Pau Gasol was traded in the 2007-2008 season to the Los Angeles Lakers for the rights to his better brother Marc Gasol, Kwame "Tiny Hands" Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie and two first round picks. Basically if Marc Gasol had not been in that deal it would have been the worst trade in the history of the NBA. Pau went on to win two championships with Kobe Bryant and become known as one of the better big men in the game.
Pau Gasol was not staying a Grizzly for long. It wasn't happening. He had complained and asked to be traded so the Grizzlies were going to accommodate him. If he hadn't been traded to the Lakers a surprising trade partner would have appeared in the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lebron James needed a partner in Clevelend that sent the team to the next level and Gasol would fit perfectly. The first half year would not be as easy for James and Gasol, but they would eventually get it. The next few years would see the Cavaliers going to the Finals, maybe even winning one, but they would not be as dominant as those Laker teams Pau was on. They would have had to give up a few good players and probably two or three first round picks. They didn't have a Marc Gasol to sweeten the pot so they would have had to give up half their team. As the Cavs are tearing up the Eastern conference the Lakers would be biding their time in the west. As Marc develops the team would get better and better eventually winning a title. The Grizzlies would spend the next few years shedding the dead weight that the Cavaliers saddled them with. Eventually they would win the lottery and be rewarded with Anthony Davis.
Stay tuned for Part II featuring "What Ifs" #1-5!