The Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith on the poor starts from Memphis and Denver.
The Grizzlies were 15-17 at the end of December last season, so a poor start is no reason to panic. Plus, two-unit teams, like those Hubie Brown runs, don’t have as much advantage until other teams begin to wear down during the season.
But the Grizzlies are working on an 11-game losing streak, including the last four games of the 2003-04 regular season, a playoff sweep and the first three this season. There are some unsettling concerns, like Stromile Swift and Bonzi Wells playing for contracts, and others, like Shane Battier and James Posey, seeing Brian Cardinal with a larger contract. Internal buzz has Brown and general manager Jerry West at odds, with one leaving after the season. West was rumored to have ordered Wells into the lineup over Mike Miller.
The first public blemish appeared Saturday night in another big loss as point guard Jason Williams (above) blasted assistant Brendan Brown (Hubie’s son) during the third quarter. Williams was said to be upset with the offensive play-calling, much of which comes from the younger Brown.
“He’s entitled to an opinion,” Hubie Brown said of Williams.
Williams was complaining that the offense had become too predictable. It’s something of a pattern with Hubie Brown, who tends to begin overcoaching and feuding with players after his team has success. After his first 50-win season in Atlanta, the Hawks fell to 31 wins–and he was gone. After peaking at 47 wins with the Knicks, they never were .500 again under him.
“We’re not the league’s best-kept secret anymore,” Wells said. “Everyone knows about us. Everyone knows our offense and what we like to do. We just need to go back to the drawing board and find a way to attack defenses.”
What this does is open up an opportunity for the Bulls. Hello, Eddy Curry. The Grizzlies tried desperately to get either Curry or Erick Dampier in the off-season. Brown certainly will be pushing West for some help soon. It’s just that the Grizzlies don’t have much you’d want. Perhaps Miller, who could play shooting guard for the Bulls, would be a fit. Maybe even a draft pick, too, to replace the future pick traded to Phoenix.
The Nuggets are a mess. Their vaunted new front line with Kenyon Martin gave up Chris Mihm’s career-high point total in the opener and was crushed by Carlos Boozer on Saturday.
Much can be blamed on Carmelo Anthony, who said he had no interest in marijuana after his recent arrest. That apparently does not extend to bad shots. He missed 11 of 13 in the first half against Utah, with Jazz players gleefully yelling “shoot, shoot” from the bench. Anthony was benched to open the second half.
By the way, Anthony came to the opener wearing a T-shirt with a burning Twin Towers that said: “[John] Kerry shouldn’t have given up. He should have fought all the way through.” Anthony then admitted he didn’t vote.