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Buckle up: This season’s going to be a bumpy ride

Between a coaching change, the lack of experienced depth, and the likelihood of injury, this Grizzlies season promises to be an emotional rollercoaster.

NBA: Preseason-Philadelphia 76ers at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Last Saturday, with the Grizzlies playing in Houston, a routine preseason game turned into a nightmare in the time it took for Ron Tillery to send a tweet.

Eventually, reports came out, and Grizzlies fans had their minds put at ease. Well, sort of. There were quotes about Gasol's foot "just being a little stiff," that his ankle was just tweaked, that him coming out of the game and going to the locker room was all part of the plan. That no one should panic.

And then came this:

And this:

And fans were quickly back into panic mode. We haven't even started playing meaningful basketball and we've already had to break out the defibrillators. There are still 82 regular season games over the next seven months, and that doesn't even factor in potential postseason games.

In other words, Grizz fans: Buckle up. This season is going to be a bumpy ride.

We already knew there was going to be stress this season. Even without the injury issues, the Grizzlies will feature a bench of mostly unknowns and will have inexperienced rookies backing up Mike Conley. They've brought in a head coach who, while seemingly beloved by fans and players alike, has no track record as a head coach. Add to all of that the history of core players like Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, and Tony Allen, and you're left with... well, a lot of finger-crossing in the near future.

Every time that Marc grimaces as he walks, every time Mike takes a few extra seconds to pick himself up following a particularly nasty collision, every time Chandler Parsons favors his surgically repaired knee, Grizz fans are going to have their hearts in their throats.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, there's nothing that can be done for it. When the front office maxed Marc, Mike, and Chandler, everyone knew what came along with it. The risks were in plain sight, and most agreed that the rewards were worth it. Zach Lowe's moniker, the "well-built house of cards," has been used ad nauseum, but still stands as the best description of the team in its current construction.

Monday's reports should do nothing to allay any concerns over Memphis' injury questions. Parsons has been ruled out. Allen is questionable. Brandan Wright appears to have caught whatever Jordan Adams had and will likely vanish from existence soon. And Marc's minutes are going to be "monitored," hopefully by someone not named Gasol. Any hopes that Memphis would start the season at full strength, are gone. And after the final preseason game in Minnesota, the hopes that Marc would sit out when not feeling 100% feel as if they’re fading quickly.

This offseason, everyone (and I mean everyone, both at GBB and everywhere else in the vast basketball writing universe) qualified their best case scenarios with some form or another of "health permitting." Every ceiling for the Grizzlies, regardless of the games won or playoff seeding, was contingent on Memphis getting breaks (or avoiding them) on the injury front.


Sure, it's the first week, and the season is long, but for a team whose expectations are so tied to health, these sorts of occurrences portend the sort of inauspicious start that should put fans on edge.

As we enter the final day of the offseason, and as we prepare to embark on this 82 (and hopefully greater) game journey, Grizzlies fans should remember: Every season is an emotional rollercoaster, and this one promises to be a true Tower of Terror, with the opportunity to have the floor yanked out from beneath at any moment.

So, Grizz fans, strap in. Gird your loins. Say your prayers. And just hope that we can get through the grind that is an NBA season without too many of the sorts of moments that lend themselves to gray hair and overworked livers.

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