Jon Leuer was sent to the Phoenix Suns last night in a late-draft-day trade that netted the Memphis Grizzlies the 2nd round selection of Andrew Harrison. As much as the move was probably about the Grizzlies front office snagging a favored-flyer late in the draft, it was probably almost as much about moving on from the Jon Leuer experiment that imploded itself into another universe during the 2014-15 NBA season.
It's pretty simple. The Grizzlies wanted Leuer to stretch the 4 position, and Jon was like a Stretch Armstrong figure that had been put in the freezer overnight. The writing was essentially on the wall after Leuer took (1) ONE single 3-pt attempt in the first 12 games of the season. He'd show some spunk around the rim and grab a few rebounds, but a shooter he was not. Leuer ended up making (3) threes in the month of November, another (3) in December, and then his last made trey for the Memphis Grizzlies came on January 27th, 2015. Memphis needed more than (7) 3-pt makes from a stretch-4 who played over 800 minutes this season. After Leuer showed he was unable to take and make the long balls, his playing time dwindled into pure garbage (time) for the remainder of the season. Spot minutes that saw Jon only attempt (5) threes over his final three months with the team.
Disappointment. Confusion. Denial.
To some, those were the bedmates as we watched Leuer fade into obscurity.
I remember when the Grizzlies made the infamous Jon Leuer trade that was actually first infamous for the Cleveland Cavaliers because it looked like they hauled in the motherlode of Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a 1st round pick in exchange for a role player they thought nothing of. The Grizzlies front office maintained that it wasn't purely a salary dump. I even distinctly recall someone in the Memphis media saying the words, "the Grizzlies really think this guy can play." Then after the 2013-14 season the fortunes of trade looked to be changing with Leuer coming off a 47% 3P shooting year and Cleveland left only holding that future 1st rounder.
But this was false reality. One we'd not fully see revealed for another few months.
Before the shards of promise fell at our feet, Leuer's fandom around Memphis grew. He was a young, good-looking dude who I only heard positive things about from fans. I even heard a story from one guy who ran into him at a bar downtown and Jon bought the guy and his friends a round of tequila shots; it wasn't hard to pull for the guy.
He even got his own round of
absolutely awful nicknames. But whether it was Jonny Badger, Tennessee Dirk or The Leuertenant out on the court, his presence never paid dividends outside of giving us a handful of graceful dunks.
I'm not sure what those front office members thought Leuer could play, but it was clearly not basketball of the Memphis Grizzlies varietal. And so the arbitrary legend that is Jon Leuer moves on to a new team where he can hopefully find his footing. I thank him for the flashes of fun over the past couple of years, and I wish him all the best in his bow-hunting this off-season.
PS: I also hope that professionally paid broadcasters eventually learn how to pronounce his name. LOO-er. Not Lauer. Not Lawyer. Not Lore.