Last season went about as bad as it could for the Memphis Grizzlies. Injuries, an early-season coaching change and inconsistent play plagued the team as the Grizzlies finished 22-60, their worst mark since 2008-09.
In January, star point guard Mike Conley needed heel surgery and was ruled out for the entire season after being limited to just 12 games in 2017-18. Others, such as veteran Chandler Parsons, were in and out of the lineup with injuries as well. All-Star center Marc Gasol expressed his frustration with the team’s season in February in a season to forget for Memphis.
There is some hope on the horizon, though, as the Grizzlies hope to find a contributor with the No. 4 pick in the 2018 Draft and have a healthy, versatile roster when next season begins.
Team owner Robert Pera is thinking big for next season and sees a return to the Grizzlies’ successful days of the past. He said as much in an interview with Grind City Media, the team’s media outlet. Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal recapped some of Pera’s key points from his interview:
“Assuming Marc (Gasol) and Mike (Conley) come back healthy, I think we have a couple of surrounding pieces that are younger players that are going to make a positive impact,” Pera told the media outlet he employs. “We’ll get another good player in this draft. I see no reason why we can’t return to being a 50-win plus team.”
Pera blamed last season’s setback on injuries. Conley, the Grizzlies’ starting point guard, appeared in just 12 games and eventually required heel surgery. The Grizzlies’ season was effectively without a playoff bid before Christmas.
“In the NBA there are some things you can control; there are some things you can’t control,” Pera said. “There’s some luck and chance involved, too. This year injuries set us back. … If we’re healthy, I expect us to be very competitive.”
In early April, Pera maintained a controlling interest of the Grizzlies by winning a buy-sell showdown with minority owners of the team. Minority partners Steve Kaplan and Daniel Straus, who each owned about 14 percent of the team (compared to Pera’s 25 percent), triggered the buy-sell clause last fall.
In the interview with Grind City Media, Pera said he’s looking forward to putting his “stamp” on the team and elaborated on what he meant by that.
The goal for the Grizzlies is that people know that if they take a player or find a player, this is best organization in the league for realizing that player’s potential.”
Pera also stressed the importance of continuity, citing that as one reason he approved J.B. Bickerstaff as head coach. Bickerstaff took over as interim coach in November after the Grizzlies fired David Fizdale.
“We’ve had turnover in the head coaching spot and J.B. brings some continuity. The players have worked with him and the players all love him,” Pera said. “He’s very transparent. He carries himself really well. He’ll compromise when he sees it’s best for the organization. I have confidence in him to be that centerpiece of the culture we want to build. He’s a great fit.”