Earlier today, our own Matt Hrdlicka - one of the finest writers on this fair little site - temporarily lost his mind and wrote a 3,100 word personal manifesto about why - and I'm pretty sure this was the point - the Grizzlies' acquisition of Jeff Green was the first domino to fall in a Rube Goldberg machine that would eventually destroy the very foundation of basketball itself and set the forests of Siberia ablaze.
Knowing Matt to be a smart and thoughtful person who wishes no physical harm on the newest addition to Memphis' professional basketball team, I thought that it would be prudent for someone at GBB to present a counterargument. It's nothing personal, Matt, but I don't want us to be known as the Grizzlies' "Ted Kaczynski-style ramblings site".
That's not to say that Matt didn't make a lot of cogent points in his piece, but his analysis thoroughly loses the forest for the trees. Let's break down what happened on a more binary level, shall we?
The Grizzlies add: Jeff Green, Russ Smith
The Grizzlies lose: Tayshaun Prince, Quincy Pondexter
The Grizzlies' Record: 26-11 (1st in the Southwest Division, 3rd in the West)
The Grizzlies' most glaring weaknesses: Lack of 1) athleticism and 2) wing scoring
Jeff Green is a prototypical small forward (6'9") with superior athleticism who is a capable wing scorer.
Neither Tayshaun Prince nor Quincy Pondexter is very good, God love 'em. Jeff Green is not the best player in the world by any estimation, but he's a lot better than those guys. He's also a lot better than Jon Leuer and Vince Carter (if Vince Carter doesn't round back into form). This is an upgrade. The team is now better with Jeff Green because Jeff Green is better than the players he replaced. You don't need advanced stats to explain that.
While I'd like to address each of the individual points that comprise Hrdlicka's collective insanity as presented in his column, I have children to raise and Buckeyes to root against. So, let me just make a couple of points about why this is a good thing for the Grizzlies beyond the obvious fact that Jeff Green is a basketball player that is better at basketball than the people we traded to get him.
First, yes, it's certainly possible to add good players to a team and make that team worse. This often happens when good players hurt team chemistry or disrupt a team's game plan. When we added Rudy Gay back into the lineup after advancing to the second round of the playoffs three seasons ago, it disrupted the team's game plan because Rudy Gay wanted to be team's first scoring option even though he clearly wasn't that guy in the minds of his teammates (that guy was Zach).
"The program I came from [Georgetown] preached play defense, do your job, get your teammate open and don't be selfish," Green said to ESPN in 2013. "Then I get to the NBA, and it's the total opposite."
That's Green talking about the Boston media's constant harping on him for not being assertive enough. Hrdlicka likes comparing Rudy to Green, but if there was ever a bunch of people in the media telling Rudy to shoot more then I don't remember it. Green also caught a lot of heat in Boston for not showing the emotion that they had been accustomed to from the halcyon days when Boston was competing for titles.
"I know what people want," Green said in the same interview. "They want assholes. They want KG. They want Rondo. Guys who are confrontational. I have my days like everyone else, but mostly I'm the calm guy. I'm the laid-back one."
By all accounts, one of Green's best attributes is his presence in the locker room, and judging by the quote above, it's clear that he'll fit right in with the culture that's been established in Memphis by well-known good guys Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Now, if Green was coming to Memphis with the same baggage as, oh, I don't know, Dion Waiters, then there would be cause for panic, but he's not. There's nothing but well wishes for him out of Boston, and genuine excitement in the locker room in Memphis. Plus he called KG an asshole, which is awesome. Because KG is an asshole. And Memphis just happens to be an asshole-free zone where the players buy their assistant coaches new cars when their cars get stolen and Z-Bo pays the heating bills for low-income families when it gets too cold outside.
Finally, let's address the draft pick. Hrdlicka and Herrington and everybody else is dogging the front office for packaging a first-rounder that likely won't come due until early in the next decade for Green in a year when we have a legitimate chance to win the title. Yea, assets are important in the NBA when your team sucks and you're trying to rebuild, but Carpe Diem, boys! The last time I checked, we aren't making Boyhood over here. Look at what's happening right now! Who cares about 2020 when we're 26-11 and #1 in the Southwest on the eve of the All-Star break? Has everyone lost their minds?
OK, fine, I'll indulge and we'll play future moneyball with the Grizzlies and whichever 13-year-old is out there torching the middle school AAU circuit right now. Here's the scenario: Oh no! Z-Bo's retired and Marc just injured his back and Mike hurt his knee and we're gonna miss a lottery pick because we're gonna miss the playoffs! What do we do?
Actually, I can't even do it because it's so far off and I totally don't care. Because it's 2015. And this is a stupid discussion.
Everyone take a deep breath. The Grizzlies got better today. No, I don't think Jeff Green is the missing piece of the puzzle that brings the Larry O'Brien trophy to Memphis, but we've got a better chance than we did yesterday. And guess what? That's a good thing.