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#IMHO: Draymond vs KD, Melo‘s next stop, and surprises in Memphis

by Lang Whitaker | Grizz Gaming GM

Grind City Media’s Lang Whitaker and Michael Wallace have been covering the NBA since shorts were short and socks were long, but their opinions about the League don’t always mesh. #IMHO is their weekly chance to weigh in on the most pertinent news from around the NBA. What’s lit? What’s lame? Find out each week right here.


From: Lang Whitaker
Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 11:24 AM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: #IMHO

Last week we talked about the Jimmy Butler trade saga, which finally came to an end over the weekend, and I mentioned how it reminded me of the Carmelo Anthony trade saga from way back in 2010. Welp, time is a flat circle, because now it looks as though Carmelo is back on the trade block, or at least on his way out of Houston. But where do you think he should go? Finding the perfect fit is tricky, because Melo’s game is so singular. It clearly hasn’t been a great fit in Houston (although I wouldn’t necessarily blame him for their slow start), but which situation around the NBA do you think would be the best fit for Melo? Philly? Golden State? Or what about back in Denver where it all started?

Carmelo Anthony

From: Michael Wallace
Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 1:11:19 PM
To: Lang Whitaker
Subject: RE: #IMHO

To me, another comp comes to mind. Considering how all has played out – as well as the trajectory of their careers – Melo and Dwight Howard have basically been on the same path. Both had early success and pushed deep into the playoffs (in Dwight’s case, all the way to the NBA Finals). Both got burned chasing bigger markets and brighter lights. And now, they’re just disgruntled journeymen shuffling from team to team chasing fame and impact that diminished long ago. Considering Philly had to part with Dario Saric to acquire Butler, the Sixers would be the most ideal place to squeeze whatever is left out of Melo. I wouldn’t be shocked if Miami made another play for him as well, because there’s nothing Pat Riley targets more than an unhappy fading superstar on his last act with a chip on his shoulder.

Lang, there’s been so much talk from so-called know-it-alls like us around the league about how superior the West would be and how completely inferior the East was, especially in LeBron’s departure to the Lakers. But at last check, Philly was one of the last unbeaten at home, the Bucks and the Greek Freak won at Golden State and Toronto just might be the best team in the league right now. Were we all trippin’ or is the East still pretty much fool’s gold at the top?

Toronto Raptors

From: Lang Whitaker
Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 5:05 PM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: #IMHO

Mike, I feel like we may have reached critical mass in the West. It's always been a pendulum -- one Conference being better than the other, and I'm sure there are plenty of examples of each Conference having their time on top. But the thing about a pendulum is it goes both ways. Yes, the West is better and it has been for a while, but I was always certain things would eventually even out and, I believe at some point down the road the East may be the beasts again. It's early but things certainly seem to be trending in that direction.

Hey, since we always talk about the NBA writ large, how about we keep this one close to home: Which player on the Grizzlies has provided the most pleasant surprise for you this season? I'll nominate one to start: Wayne Selden. I know last season was tough for Selden, missing the first few weeks with an injury and then basically having to play his way into shape and figure out his place in the rotation on a team that was in flux. But this season, with the benefit of full health and full training camp, Selden has been valuable off the bench, both as a defender and an offensive player able to drive or knock down threes. Who has caught your eye?

Garrett Temple

From: Michael Wallace
Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 8:33:56 PM
To: Lang Whitaker
Subject: #IMHO

Huh? Wait, what? Lang, did you say something? My bad, man. I was distracted by the madness in Golden State. I couldn’t hear your question because Draymond Green was still yapping at Kevin Durant about free agency and cussin’ out everyone within earshot over being suspended and fined. Didn’t I tell you two #IMHOs ago the Warriors biggest challenge would be from within? Strange thing is, Draymond was also the loudest and biggest proponent of bringing Durant onboard when Golden State’s so-called Hamptons 5 recruited him in free agency. Seems like the Warriors are waaaay overreacting to this.

The NBA is far too sensitive these days. If the 3-Peat Lakers responded like the Warriors to a little friction among stars, Shaq or Kobe would have been suspended half the season. The second 3-Peat Bulls with Rodman would have fallen apart in training camp. The Bad Boys Pistons wouldn’t have made it off the bus for games.

I digress. Oh yeah, you asked for my most surprising Grizzlies’ player. Easy. Garrett Temple. At age 32, off to the most productive start of his career. The Grizz pulled a fast one on Sacramento in that trade, considering what they got for what they gave up.

So Lang, will the Warriors regret doing this to Draymond? Does it seem like splintering factions are forming in the Bay? What’s going through Boogie Cousins’ head right now?

Kevin Durant and Draymond Green

From: Lang Whitaker
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 10:14:43 AM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: #IMHO

Agreed on Temple - as someone said to me the other day, the Kings were going young and the Grizz were the team at the “right time, right place,” when Sacto was ready to move him.

I’m not sure what’s happening in the Bay right now. I watched their game against the Hawks last night, playing without Draymond and Steph Curry, and there didn’t seem to be any other outward signs of fissure. Part of me is tempted to chalk this up as an example of the stuff that happens with any team when they’re racking up Ws and spending so much time with each other. Every dynasty eventually falls apart, and we know things in Golden State won’t be golden forever. It’s up to Bob Myers and the Warriors to figure out how to keep this going as long as possible, and as long as you have a healthy Steph Curry in the center of everything, it seems like keeping those pieces around him shouldn’t be impossible.

That said, I also thought about David West’s quote following last season, that there was “a lot going on behind that scenes that people will be shocked about when it comes out.” And I couldn’t help but wonder if all of this drama between KD and Draymond is setting up for the Warriors to be forced to make a Sophie’s Choice between Draymond or KD. KD can test free agency this summer, and Draymond will be a free agent next summer. Draymond was certainly there first and has provided the fire for a sometimes placid group, but if you’re choosing between the two only as basketball players, it doesn’t seem like much of a choice.

Look at me, driving way on down this road that hasn’t even been built. I’ll pump the brakes and remind myself that dynasties have withstood much worse things. Still, for all those teams looking for any sliver of hope to have a way to beat this Warriors team? A tiny crack is showing…

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Lang Whitaker are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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