Imagine a scenario where you are at your job working, like you do every single day and your boss calls you into their office. He tells you what a great job you have done for this company over the last decade, he said how much he loves having you around, he even says he can’t really envision this company without you, BUT (because there is always a ‘but’) he thinks it might be time for him to move on.
He isn’t firing you though (good news!) but he does want you to know that is looking for someone to replace you, he is looking for someone younger, maybe someone with an outside perspective on what is best for the company.
So you will just quit then and find a new job? Well....thats the thing, we have not found anyone just yet to replace so we definitely want you to hang around and do your job just like you have done every single day for the past decade. Make sure you get those reports in, pitch sales those sales proposals, and even teach our younger employees how to conduct themselves in meetings, and make sure you do it with the same great attitude you have done it with for the last decade.
Well this is awkward.
One day after a report came out publicly that Marc Gasol and Mike Conley would be shopped to other teams for a possible trade, those same players had a game against the Charlotte Hornets last night. The arena could not even take the news last night as the sauna caught on fire before the game. When I walked into the arena, it was still super hazy and a certain smoky BBQ aroma was still wafting through the halls.
Marc Gasol was asked about the trade rumors earlier in the day after shootaround, “My relationship with Grizzlies might change,” Gasol said, “but my relationship with Memphis won’t, what I feel inside and how I feel about Memphis and these people, has nothing to do with a franchise or a temporary thing. It’s not gonna change.”
Even after the game, when we are all waiting in a small hallway because the team was using the Tigers locker room and it was too small for all the media, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Man this is awkward.”
Why did the Grizzlies feel like they needed to publicly say they are taking calls on Mike and Marc? Quite frankly, you should have been doing that already, and you can still do that without letting the entire fanbase know. You can even let Mike and Marc know to be respectful to your franchise players, as you should be, without leaking it to the media. How does this help you as a franchise? It doesn’t. The Grizzlies could have done all of this behind closed doors but they decided that wasn’t the best course of action for whatever reason.
Chris Wallace stood up in front of the media after the botched trade for Kelly Oubre and publicly said what a shame it was that leaks were happening and how it put players in a very awkward position. Fast forward to a month later and that is precisely what you did to your franchise cornerstones. You now force them to answer questions about the very real possibility of a pending trade for either one of them.
So after the Grizzlies of course lost again last night, even though Mike Conley and Marc Gasol played outstanding, and as we are all huddled waiting to talk to the players, it was not lost on myself or the rest of the media how weird this had become. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley stood in front of all of us and took our questions and responded the best they could, even though you could tell this was not an ideal scenario.
Marc Gasol made jokes about how he did not start the fire in the sauna.
Mike Conley was appreciative of the fact that they had told him beforehand “I was appreciative of Robert Pera reaching out before hand, it would have been an awful thing to find that out through Twitter or some kind of social media, you been here as long you have and you have relationships with people, just happy they did that.”
Most NBA players would not have responded like these two players have to a report that they might be traded publicly, but these guys are not most people. They are genuinely good people. Out of all the players in the NBA, these two guys are the guys that would take in stride, be respectful, and still continue through all of this to do their jobs by going out and playing basketball and try to win games.
Even after all of this, after the Grizzlies publicly said they were going to trade franchise players, Marc Gasol was still concerned about how it helps the only team he has ever known, “I cant take it personal, I wont take it personal, they’re doing what’s best for the franchise and that is the same thing that I want, so at the end of the day we all want whats best for the Grizzlies.”
Hopefully they make these trades happen sooner rather than later because it will be even more awkward after the trade deadline when they are still on the team.