Michael Heisley and Chris Wallace made no secret that keeping Marc Gasol in a Memphis uniform was the most important thing that needed to get done before the season started.
Well, Gasol broke the news via twitter this evening that he has reached a tentative agreement with the Grizzlies that will keep the emerging center in Memphis via a four-year, max contract offer.
Here’s Gasol’s (@marcgasol) tweet:
I’m proud to say that we have reached a tentative agreement with my team @memgrizz , can’t wait to get on the court with all my teammates!
This was crucial for the Grizzlies, as Gasol was rated as the No. 1 free agent available this offseason by SBNation. After signing Josh Selby and Jeremy Pargo earlier this week to add depth, it now remains to be seen what the franchise will do to further bolster its frontcourt depth.
Memphis has submitted a $2 million qualifying offer to Haddadi, but there are issues with him getting back into the country – issues which stem from an off-the-court domestic incident during last season.
@HoopsWorld reported earlier today that the Memphis Grizzlies had traded OJ Mayo to the Indiana Pacers for Josh McRoberts and Brandon Rush. The voice of the Grizzlies, Pete Pranica (@petepranica), was the first to report that May0 was actually in the midst of a scrimmage and practice sessions at the Grizzlies training facility while the trade rumors were swirling.
At the end of the practice, Grizzlies’ owner Michael Heisley denied that any trades had been made, and the beat writer for the Indianapolis Star confirmed there was no deal. Heisley also confirmed to multiple reporters that he planned to do everything possible to keep the Grizzlies’ successful young core together.
Heisley also gave some Grizzlies fans a bit of a breather by reasserting that Marc Gasol will play for the Grizzlies this season, whether accepts Memphis’ offer, signs an offer sheet, or accepts a qualifying offer. Heisley said he had no reason to believe that Gasol did not want to return to Memphis. This comes after it was reported that Houston had submitted a four-year, $55 million offer sheet to Gasol.
Heisley also told reporters that he has no intention of having a team salary that pushes the Grizzlies into the echelon of luxury-tax paying teams.
Resigning Gasol has been the number on priority for Heisley since before the lockout started, and everyone involved with the Grizzlies, players included, know that keeping the Spanish center is the key to a championship run.
Other news about the Grizzlies:
- Memphis signed Josh Selby and Jeremy Pargo to multi-year deals.
- The Grizzlies will hold an open practice on Sunday, Dec. 18 from 1-2 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
- Bob Thornton and Lloyd Pierce were hired as the Grizzlies’ new assistant coaches
- Zach Randolph talks about day two of training camp: http://www.nba.com/grizzlies/video/one-one-zach-randolph
When asked what comes next in his life, Charles Carmouche simply shrugs and nonchalantly says, “I’m not sure, but I know I’ll be ready for it.”
Take a look at the last six years of his life, and it’s not surprising that confidence and maturity emanate from his slender, 6-foot-three frame.
“My life has been a roller coaster ride to say the least,” Carmouche said.
When Hurricane Katrina throttled New Orleans in August of 2005, Carmouche’s life and family were uprooted in ways he could have never imagined. Just as he was about to begin his sophomore season at St. Augustine High School in the Big Easy, he was forced to move to Houston to escape the aftermath of the hurricane.
Instead of viewing it as a negative, Carmouche took the change in stride and actually credits the move with making him a better basketball player.
“The competition level in Houston was on another level,” Carmouche explained. “Guys that would be a big man in New Orleans would be a guard in Houston. It really helped my game.”
Once things settled down, he and his family moved back to New Orleans, where Carmouche enrolled at McMain High School for his junior and senior years. After proving himself at McMain, Carmouche inked a scholarship with hometown school New Orleans, thinking he would be there to stay.
Just two seasons later, Carmouche was blindsided with another obstacle—UNO was dropping to Division III, which meant no more athletic scholarships. Again, Carmouche found the change to be a good thing and focused on the positives.
“It actually worked out for the best,” Carmouche said. “Memphis called me, and I couldn’t find any negatives toward the program. I knew this was the place for me.”
After transferring and enrolling at the U of M, Carmouche made an immediate impact in his first season donning the blue and gray. He started 28 of 32 games and averaged 7.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists for a Memphis team that won the Conference USA Championship and narrowly lost to Arizona in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
This season, Carmouche is ready to step things up a notch and become a leader for the Tigers, who are ranked No. 9/11 to start the preseason. Though the Final Four was the goal last year, Carmouche has motivation to work even harder to get there in 2011-12 as his hometown, New Orleans, is home to the final weekend of this year’s NCAA Tournament.
“To play back at home for a national title in front of my friends and family in New Orleans after everything we’ve been through would be incredible,” Carmouche said. “I’m going to do everything I can this season to make it happen.”
Well, it’s about time to resurrect this blog. The official kickoff to the 2011-12 Memphis Tiger Basketball season happens Friday with Memphis Madness.
As Tarik Black said in a recent video, “If you’re from Memphis and you don’t go to Memphis Madness,” we’re not claiming you.
It’s a really unique event, and it’s special to see the majority of the city get behind something.
Here are some things to look for going into this season:
- The impact of heralded strength trainer (well, he likes to be called “life changer”) Frank Matrisciano. Here’s the best article I’ve read to date about Frank: “Hell’s Trainer: The Crazy Truth About The Man Behind The Mask”
- The development of the sophomore class. Joe Jackson, Will Barton, Antonio Barton, Tarik Black, and Chris Crawford have all had a season of Division One basketball. How much have the improved?
- The impact of freshman Adonis Thomas and transfer Stan Simpson. Thomas is one of the best raw athletes Memphis has had in some time and can take over a game defensively. Simpson should add depth in the frontcourt for Memphis and also boasts Division One experience while at Illinois.
- The impact of new assistant coaches Damon Stoudamire and Luke Walton. What will their NBA experience bring to the table?
- Oh, don’t forget a performance by Rick Ross. Should be entertaining.
If you’re looking for a good preview of the 2011-12 Tigers, you won’t find one better than the Blue Ribbon Yearbook’s breakdown. It should be a fun season; let’s get it started off right on Friday!
The only way to properly finish this post is with a pretty funny Memphis Madness teaser video featuring Drew Barham. If you were at last year’s Madness to witness his “Shots” dance, this video will be even funnier to you.
If you’re like me, you can’t stop reading about the Grizzlies this morning. Here are links to some of my favorite articles about last night’s history-making win.
Ronald Tillery, Commercial Appeal: BELIEVE IT! Griz topple Spurs
Geoff Calkins: Commercial Appeal: Grizzlies help city redeem old misery
Ron Higgins, Commercial Appeal: Spurs had no answer for Grizzlies Randolph
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Randolph’s Deft Touch Finishes Spurs
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Grizzlies hold on, win series 4-2 to stun top-seeded Spurs (Post game recap)
Alex Kennedy, Hoopsworld.com: NBA Saturday, Memphis makes history
Associated Press, NYtimes.com: Grizzlies Beat Spurs for first series victory
Gary Parrish, CBSSports.com: Grizzlies make history with game 6 win over Spurs
Patrick Cawley, Slamonline.com: Post Up: Dream a Little Dream
Chris Mannix, SI.com: Misfits no more
April 29, 2011.
Hopefully, ten years from now, that date will resonate with Memphis sports fans in a way that no other date in history has.
People will toast to the day when the city finally broke through – the day when Memphis legitimized itself in the eyes of more than just NBA fans.
Memphis will be on display to the world tonight, and I’m not just talking about the 12 players dressed in blue on the court at FedExForum. The game is in primetime (8 p.m. CT) on ESPN, and there won’t be a better opportunity for Memphis to show what it’s all about tonight.
The Commercial Appeal reported yesterday that officials are expecting 120,000 or more people to crowd into downtown Memphis this evening between the Grizzlies, Redbirds, and the Beale Street Music Festival.
Streets and bars will be packed. Money will be spent at local restaurants and shops. People around the country will be talking about one thing – Memphis.
When’s the last time you could say that for the right reasons?
NBA analysts will be talking about the perks of Memphis, where they’ve eaten (I’m going to guess the Rendezvous gets mentioned at least once), what type of Southern hospitality they’ve been afforded. People around the country will hear about the positive sides of the city – our great music, food, and best of all the people.
Memphis is a city of underdogs. As I stated in a previous post, “The Grindhouse” is a very appropriate nickname for FedExForum.
Memphians work hard to earn what they have, and the Grizzlies have worked damn hard to get where they are this season. The team started the season with a coach that didn’t even have a contract. They stumbled out of the gate, and fans started to lose interest. People wrote it off as another disappointing season. Articles were even written about the potential and possibility of the franchise moving out of Memphis past 2016.
Then, they started playing better – before a fight on a plane between teammates put the Grizzlies back in the national news for the wrong reasons yet again. And, then even past that, the team’s superstar, Rudy Gay, went down with a season-ending shoulder injury.
Yet, amidst it all, the players formed a bond stronger than the hardwood court on which they compete. They embraced each other, and most importantly, they embraced the mentality of this city.
The people here have longed for something to get behind for years, but Memphis seems to always come up just short.
Twice a national runner-up in the NCAA Title game.
Looked over for the state’s NFL franchise.
But, tonight could be the night where that all changes. Memphis will break through – on and off the court.
The Grizzlies will beat a team stocked full of former NBA Champions.Memphians will celebrate together. Believe Memphis.
Memphians love basketball.
You knew that.
Memphians love winners.
You knew that, too.
What you may not have known is the power that Memphians have when they come together.
There are a lot of negative things about this city. It’s easy to focus on the poverty or the troubled school system or the lack of job growth in the city.
Watching the Grizzlies game last night was an example of everything good about this city. Memphians have a sort of collective will power when they get behind something that’s palpable. And, the sense of pure passion, of desire, of excitement last night in FedExForum was exactly that – palpable.
I’ve seen the city get behind the Tigers before. In 2007-08 during the National Title run, that’s all people talked about in the city. It was a way for people to get lost in basketball – to forget about their day-to-day problems and just cheer and be happy.
Basketball has always been king in this city – at least metaphorically. Elvis will always be the king. Since Larry Finch stayed home to play for the Tigers in the early 70’s and led the Tigers to the NCAA Championship, the Bluff City has had an undeniable love affair with the game of basketball.
Driving through town, it’s easy to see. Packed playground courts. Tigers billboards everywhere. Bumper stickers.
Yet, I always wondered where the Grizzlies fit in. Could a professional team find a niche in this city? I caught the Grizz fever back in 2005 when the team was in the midst of its second straight trip to the postseason. I remember watching the team lose in overtime to the Mavericks in game three at FedExForum before getting dominated in game four for a second straight playoff sweep.
That team had no heart. The city supported that group, of course. But, there wasn’t a sense that success was imminent. That team didn’t have “it.”
That’s why this year is so special. This year’s group has a connection with its fans, with the city of Memphis that is truly special. Zack Randolph, an embattled superstar before arriving in Memphis, said in his postgame interview that he was undeniably grateful for the way the city has embraced him. Memphis has a way of doing that. If we’re with you, we’re really with you. You’re our own. You’re our kin.
You can see it in this team’s eyes. You can hear it in Tony Allen’s voice when he calls FedExForum the “Grindhouse.” The team’s unnoficial slogan perfectly embodies the mantra of the city itself.
Because that’s what Memphians do. This may not be a perfect city. Of course we have problems. But, we come together, and we get through it. And, having a sports team that seemingly works just as hard as you do gives the city a collective sense of hope and passion.
Tomorrow night the Grizzlies will again take the floor at FedExForum. It’ll be sold out again, and again Grizz Nation will be on display to a national audience. And, the Grizzlies will do just what the city does every day.
I’m officially on the bandwagon. Go Grizzlies.