Check out Part 1 of the Top 10 "What Ifs" where we look at Iverson, Pau, Rudy and more!
5. What if Chris Wallace never lured Tony Allen away?
The guy who struggled to put together together a contender in Memphis and whose every move was criticized made the four best moves in Memphis Grizzlies history. This was the second most important move in Grizzlies history wouldn't have happened without Chris Wallace. Tony Allen was signed before the 2010-2011 season after his relationship with the Boston Celtics turned sour. Wallace, who had a prior relationship with Allen, swooped in an landed Allen for the Grizzlies.
Not only would the Grizzlies not be the same, but the city of Memphis wouldn't be the same without Tony Allen. He has captured the hearts of so many fans that I cannot imagine the Grizzlies without him. There would be no "All Heart, Grit, Grind" slogan or great moments like Tony Allen shutting Kevin Durant down more times than I can think of right now. The Grizzlies wouldn't be the same, but they would still be good. There would be nobody to push OJ Mayo to the bench and he would finally turn into the scorer he was meant to be under Lionel Hollins and would even get a large contract after his expires and Rudy Gay is traded. I can see the Grizzlies still upsetting the Spurs in 2011 and going to the playoffs again in 2012, but things would be much different. The tenacious defense we had become accustom to would not be there. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley would help the Grizzlies be a sound defensive team, but not one that shuts out the likes of Kevin Durant. There would be nobody to excite the crowd with an amazing defensive hustle play then take a corner three with 18 seconds left on the shot clock in an important late game situation. I can't imagine the Grizzlies without Tony Allen.
4. What if Robert Pera never bought the Grizzlies?
Michael Heisley decided it was time to sell the Grizzlies in 2006 when he attempted to sell the team in a deal with Christian Laettner and Brian Davis. That deal fell through, but Heisley seemed determined to sell the team to someone who wanted to keep the team in Memphis. Eventually he found the guy for the job in young billionaire Robert Pera. Pera has been an okay owner thus far, but I am fully on Team Pera as he leads the team into the future.
If Robert Pera had never come along then the Grizzlies would have continued to be owned by Michael Heisley until he unfortunately passed away this past summer. It would then have passed to his family who would most likely have sold it in the a similar fashion to the Clippers. It would have gone on sale shortly before the Clippers, but would have gone for substantially less. Steve Ballmer would have purchased the Grizzlies for $550 million. He would let this upcoming season play out in Memphis then start the process to move the team to Seattle to bring back the Supersonics. The Clippers would get purchased by a group led by Oprah, who would open the season by putting a prize under everyone's seat. Memphis would then have to wait for an expansion of the NBA or the people of Charlotte to finally fully reject the Hornets.
3. What if the Grizzlies never traded for ZBo?
Zach Randolph was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers before the 2009-2010 season. That helped jumpstart the rebuilding project in Memphis. Zach Randolph has helped bring basketball bak to Memphis. His low post presence has been the most important asset to this Grizzlies team over the last four seasons.
Zach Randolph would have continued to play as a Los Angeles Clipper until his contract expired. Then he would be seen as one of those old guys that can still play a bit, that's the understatement of this article, and would sign with the Miami Heat to pair up with Lebron James. He would have an immediate impact next to Chris Bosh and Lebron James. They would have beaten the Mavericks, Oklahoma City and the Spurs once in the NBA Finals. Lebron would not have gone home or if he did this summer ZBo would be a Cavalier alongside him. The most important thing is that the Grizzlies would not be on the map as a contending team like they are if it were not for ZBo. The 2011 upset of the Spurs wouldn't have happened, all the memorable moments between the Clippers and Grizzlies probably would not have happened. Everything about the Grizzlies would be different right now.
2. What if the Grizzlies never came to Memphis?
The Memphis Grizzlies and the city of Memphis have had a rocky relationship to say the least. When the Grizzlies were winning in the early 2000's people were excited and would be going to the games, but then they started losing and didn't stop for about 5 years. Now the team is exploding in Memphis. Everyone is finding their love of the Grizzlies because of the culture that has been put into place. The culture matches the city perfectly so now that the Grizzlies could soon take over as the dominant basketball team in hoop city.
The Vancouver Grizzlies would have continued on the same path as the Grizzlies. Not making the playoffs for five years, but finally finding a team that could win, but nobody in Vancouver would go to the games. They would have lost interest by the time Zach Randolph arrived so before ZBo can take down the Spurs in the 2011 playoffs the Vancouver Grizzlies would become the Oklahoma City Thunder. David Stern would realize that Seattle needs a basketball team would redouble efforts to keep them there. The Supersonics would eventually be bought by this enterprising new tech geek named Robert Pera.
1. What if the Grizzlies won the 2003 draft lottery?
What an unbelievable missed opportunity. The Grizzlies just had to trade their 2003 first round pick to the Detroit Pistons for good ole Otis Thorpe. The pick had a protection though, if the Grizzlies won the number one pick then they could keep their pick. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the lottery and the Grizzlies lost out on having a pick in one of the most star laden drafts ever.
If the Grizzlies had won the lottery, there is little doubt that they would have taken Lebron James, much to James' chagrin. He would have joined a surprisingly good Memphis team that was looking to make the leap to the Playoffs. James would have joined Jason Williams, Shane Battier, Mike Miller and an emerging star in Pau Gasol. They would have made the playoffs that year and Lebron James would still win the Rookie of the Year award as the Grizzlies coast to the fourth seed in the playoffs where they will lose to the Los Angeles Lakers in 6 games in the Western Conference Finals. James' first season in Memphis would have set him on the same path as the one he followed in Cleveland, with one small exception. He would leave Memphis after his first contract expired to go home and play in Cleveland with Dwyane Wade who the Cavs acquired in the same draft as James.
Stay tuned later this week as Grace Baker will have an in-depth breakdown of a question not included here, "What if Rudy Gay had never been traded?"