clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

No urgency in Memphis

New, comments

Can someone do something about this atrocity?

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start this column with a series of hypotheticals.

When your car breaks down, what do you do? You either fix it, or move on and buy a new car.

When something goes wrong in your house, what do you do? You fix it.

When you and your significant other’s relationship is struggling, what do you do? You either fix it, or decide nothing can be repaired and it’s best to move on from each other.

You get the drift here. When something is breaking, you fix it or move on.

The Memphis Grizzlies are broken, but they’ve done very little to fix things. They’ve done absolutely nothing to move on.

After a sizzling, surprising 12-5 start, the Grizzlies are a miserable 7-23 since Thanksgiving. The offense looks lethargic. “Grit ‘n’ Grind?” Please. The defense has been exposed, as their opponents have shot 38.4% from deep in this horrible stretch — highest opponent 3-point percentage in the league over that span. Once a team hits them in the mouth, they do very little to fight back.

Even when the Grizzlies sunk down the standings and towards .500, I wanted to hold the horses on being disappointed. We all knew December was going to be a brutal stretch of basketball.

This month hasn’t been friendly either, but there has really been only three winnable games— San Antonio, Detroit, Miami ... 1-2 record against those teams.

Last night did it for me though. It sent me down a dark rabbit hole where I just lost complete hope in this game. They had a very winnable game against an AD-less New Orleans Pelicans team. The atmosphere was great for MLK day, and it was the perfect way for the Grizzlies to bounce back. However...

Even though Marc Gasol and Mike Conley each scored 20+ points, the Pelicans hit them in the mouth in the third quarter, and the team couldn’t recover. Nikola Mirotic looked like freaking Larry Bird out there, as he drilled 3 after 3. Marc Gasol made Jahlil Okafor look like prime Zach Randolph. Jrue Holiday and Julius Randle simply sliced and diced wherever they wanted.

Now, one question, where’s the urgency from this team?

I see none of it.


NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

JB Bickerstaff hasn’t really changed anything over the course of this post-Thanksgiving stretch of basketball.

For starters, Shelvin Mack is still the backup point guard. Granted, his numbers have improved over the past several games (12.2 PPG, 5.1 APG, 41.2 3PT% prior to Monday’s blunder). However, the team just gets stomped when he’s in the game. Bickerstaff has gone to Jevon Carter more, but it’s clearly obvious he’s in no rush to snatch the keys from Mack anytime soon.

Secondly, JaMychal Green shouldn’t be getting nearly the same amount of minutes. Granted, the raw numbers look nice, as he’s averaging 10.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. The team gets drilled when he’s in the game, as he possesses a net rating of -7.5 — the worst among the rotation players. Yet, JB still continues to roll with him frequently.

To make matters worse with these two, drag Gasol into the mix, and this team gets smoked. The trio of Gasol, Mack, and Green has a net rating of -19.7, which puts them among the worst trios in basketball. That’s terrible for a team actively trying to win basketball games and make the playoffs. Yet, JB still thinks it works enough to roll with it every single game. This trio averages 6.8 minutes together, which means this team gets obliterated in the half-a-quarter this team spends together. That has to change!

Now, the biggest problem associated with JB Bickerstaff and his urgency is his lack of third quarter adjustments:

There is a lack of urgency from Bickerstaff or the players in the third quarter. Teams adjust and jump out to big runs, and the Grizzlies ultimately fail to recover. Bickerstaff makes zero adjustments; the only ones he makes are “hey, Mike and Marc, save us!”

JB Bickerstaff needs to show some urgency while managing the game. Move Shelvin Mack away from the rotation completely and roll with a younger Jevon Carter, which seems like the best course of action now that the playoffs are becoming a longshot. Tinker and find a way to make JaMychal Green a positive on the court, as he’s theoretically the Grizzlies’ 6th man. Throw that trio in the trash and never roll with it again. When adjusting, maybe change defensive changes to counter runs or start involving Jaren Jackson Jr. in your effort to save the game.

I like JB Bickerstaff, I really do. I believe he’s been dealt a bad hand with the roster he’s been given over the past two years. However, if he doesn’t change things up, I don’t know how much longer he’ll be the Memphis Grizzlies head coach.


NBA: Memphis Grizzlies-Press Conference Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

In the meantime, there has been more urgency in the front office. Obviously, they made a play for Kelly Oubre Jr., but it seemed like it was more of those “too good to be true” kind of things. In addition, they dealt the two players associated in the botched trade and sacrificed two second-round picks for Justin Holiday, a role player that’s a plus defender and great corner-3 shooter.

So, I’ll give props to the front office for that, and I’m glad they haven’t shown enough urgency to fire another head coach. However, they need to show some urgency in the coming weeks. This stretch has been too bad to stand still. In fact, the Grizzlies should look to be sellers.

At first, people were wanting to flip the package of JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple for a player like Tim Hardaway Jr., Evan Fournier, or Kent Bazemore. With the way this season is looking, they should look to dump them over to a playoff-contending team and take on a bad contract and an extra asset (maybe Brooklyn, who possesses plenty of bad deals and Denver’s first-rounder this season).

If they don’t want to lose Marc Gasol for nothing this summer, they need to act upon it now and deal him. Some team could be desperate to obtain his services for a playoff run.

In addition, there needs to be an urgency to build towards the future. Highlight Jaren Jackson Jr. at the guy. Not the guy of the future. No, THE guy. The Grizzlies should be fielding offers for any player not named Jaren Jackson Jr., Kyle Anderson, or Dillon Brooks.


NBA All-Star Celebrity Game NBA All -Star Weekend 2015 Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images

Finally, above management, I need some urgency from the ownership.

There’s zero way Chris Wallace should outrun 5 head coaches. If there’s any change within the front office and coaching staff, it should be in the front office first. If a new management wants to bring their guy in to replace Bickerstaff, that’s all good. Just don’t let Wallace last over another coaching fire.

If Robert Pera is committed to keeping the team in Memphis, he needs to set this team up for success not for the short-term, but for the long-term. Determine a direction for this team, establish a vision — for the love of everything good in the world, one that’s not “Grit ‘n’ Grind” — and show a commitment to the future.

If the team simply creates a vision and relays it to the fans, the fanbase are willing to accept it. Look at the whole “Trust the Process” fiasco for an example. The GM and ownership relayed that message to its fanbase, they bought in, and they’re reaping the benefits now.

Instead, it seems like there’s very little interest in doing so. No urgency, no rush, whatsoever.


The lack of urgency is hard to watch. Games are unenjoyable. Players aren’t fighting when they’re down. The coaching staff seems bewildered and incapable of figuring anything out.

It’s simple brutal to watch. It was easier to watch last year’s tank-fest, because they at least played hard out there.

The coaching staff, management, and ownership have to take notice. This team has dropping 12 of their past 13 games, losing by an average of 16.6 points over the past 5 games. In the past 2 home games, fans have left with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, because this team has gotten their asses kicked and won’t do much to change anything.

It’s time to show urgency, before it gets any uglier. It’s time to either fix things, or move on and make some hard decisions.

Follow @sbngrizzlies