Memphis Grizzlies new head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has some work to do if he wants to turn things around for the Grizzlies this season, and spoke about the team, as well as the 2018-2019 season, during an interview with The Commercial Appeal’s Mark Giannotto.
Bickerstaff talked about what the team’s strengths were heading into the season, and what people can expect from the Grizzlies’ offense moving forward.
“IQ and intelligence” Bickerstaff said. “We got a bunch of guys that know how to think the game and if you can think the game, you can make up for some of the things that we lack. If you look at our team, and I hope this doesn’t offend any of our guys, we’re not the fastest of teams. But we have to be able to use our brains to put us in spots so that we can defend well and score the ball because we’re always one or two steps ahead of our opponent.”
“We’re going to be a completely different team than you guys saw at the end of last season” Bickerstaff continued.
“Our front office and ownership group have done a great job bringing in different players with different skill sets that kind of fit the theme and the direction that we’re heading in. We’re not as young as we used to be. We’ve brought in some proven, veteran guys like Kyle Anderson, Garrett Temple, Shelvin Mack, those type of guys, who can accentuate what Marc (Gasol) can do.”
“We’ve been preaching playing a unique style of basketball. Obviously, not reinventing the wheel but playing a game where size, physicality and toughness prevails. I think we’re fortunate that we have some big guys, some long guys, that are very skilled as well, so that they can do both… So we’re fortunate to have guys that can do those things, so that’s where we’re headed. Our guys are excited about it in the conversations we’ve had with them and I think we’re built for it.”
Bickerstaff also discussed the role of Kyle Anderson, as well as the health of Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons.
“He’ll be used at his strengths, which is versatility” Bickerstaff said of Anderson.
“He can play multiple positions. He can impact the game on both sides of the floor. I’ve been impressed, just going back and watching him and seeing him, is just how smart he is and how easily he thinks the game. Very rarely do you find him in the wrong spot, offensively or defensively, and he’s always doing something to help his teammates. I think guys like that are invaluable and his ability to play one through four, you can throw him on the floor at any position.”
There’s no doubt about it. Mike’s been playing pick up, those types of things. Chandler (Parsons) been playing pick up … For the first time in a long time, we’re looking at walking into training camp with healthy bodies and healthy, high caliber players. Not just guys who would be your 13th or 14th man. We’ve got our studs healthy, which we’re looking forward to.”
Bickerstaff also believes that the bench will be better this season.
“The key in all of this is having some experience when you’re trying to win like we’re trying to do. So having guys that have proven they can play in this league, they’re not second guessing themselves, and every single night, from a coaching standpoint, you know what you’re going to get out of guys, is huge… Not to take anything away from our young guys that were here with us last year, they were competing. They were giving it everything they had. They worked hard at it. But again, when you’re young, there’s always those ups and downs and you’re battling that inconsistency.”
Grizzlies’ Jonas Valanciunas to Undergo MRI on Ankle
Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas suffered an ankle injury during Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers and although initial x-rays came back negative, he will be undergoing an MRI to determine the severity of the injury, according to the team’s official website.
Valanciunas has collected 19.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game for the Toronto Raptors and the Grizzlies this season.
Grizzlies’ Justin Holiday Now Feeling Comfortable with New Team
Memphis Grizzlies wing Justin Holiday has overcome some initial struggles with his new team following a trade from the Chicago Bulls back in January, and is feeling more comfortable.
Holiday has showed it on the court, with an improved play of late, and has become a key component of the Grizzlies’ rotation.
“You want to come in and do well and help the team,” Holiday said, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Athletic.
“That was the biggest thing for me, and feeling like you’re being a burden at times, which, it is what it is, but that was the hardest thing for me. Not playing at the level I normally do. But understanding that it comes with being traded. I just knew it was going to take time so it was just being patient and allowing myself to understand what we want to do here and allow myself to be helped.”
Holiday’s number in February tell the story, as he is averaging 12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game this month.
“If I know the ins and outs of everyone’s position, where they’re supposed to be, that’s the player I am,” Holiday said. “I know everybody’s position in a play. So now I’m getting to the point where I know that and now I’m comfortable. If I know everything that’s going on, I’m good.”
Grizzlies, Hornets Working Towards Marc Gasol Trade
According to the Sporting News’ Sean Deveney, there is growing skepticism that the two teams can work out a trade despite Gasol being held out of Tuesday’s game, leading many to believe that a trade was being finalized.
Per the report:
“But league sources told Sporting News that the Hornets and Grizzlies do not have an agreement in place, and that there is increasing skepticism on both sides that a trade can be brought to bear ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. The Hornets have had interest in Gasol for some time, but a deal has not progressed.”
Gasol and teammate Mike Conley will almost certainly be moved by the deadline, but Gasol to the Hornets doesn’t seem like such a sure thing.
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