Be good enough to go to bed so you can not think too much longer. - Russell Edson
The frisky Grizzlies come to Sacramento having won one of three games. Said win came Friday over the Raptors, who themselves have one win in three games (that one over the Cavaliers, who themselves ... oh, you get the point). Memphis, which blew its salary cap load on Zach Randolph of all people, figures to be better than worse, if nothing else, which says nothing at all, considering how bad Memphis has been. The Grizzlies have averaged fewer than 23 wins over the past three seasons. By comparison, Sacramento has averaged better than 29, so bully to you, blasphemous Memphis.
The Grizzlies lost Sunday in Denver. O.J. Mayo blew up for 40 points, but that's fine, because our favorite team has an excellent perimeter defense. (Right?)
You can learn more about the Grizzlies at Straight Outta Vancouver.
THE KEY BATTLE
Tyreke Evans vs. Mike Conley. Conley will be the first opposing point guard that Evans should definitely overpower. Russell Westbrook is an ace defender, Tony Parker has speed and help, and Chris Paul is Chris Ufcking Paul. But Conley has little reason for swag, and a limited narrative of excellence. (Really limited.) Evans is bigger, stronger ... everything but faster. And unless Conley and Marc Gasol have developed some insane pick-and-roll combo I haven't been made aware of, Evans shouldn't struggle on defense too much. The Kings as a whole will need to worry about the transition game, and Mayo is a big concern. And there's the right ankle that ended Evans' San Antonio game early. But objectively, this is the first game in which we can legitimately expect Evans to blow up. It's on him to execute. (Not literally. A sell-out crowd probably does not want to witness a live-action snuff film. Well, not involving a human victim at least, amirite San Antonio?! Savages).
THE INTERESTING SIDESHOW
Well! So much to choose from ... there's the debut of Allen Iverson as a Memphis Grizzly, which is unbelievably humorous, especially when you remember there were rumors three, four years ago about Kevin! Martin! potentially being traded to Philadelphia for The Answer. I believe one rumor I endorsed was Mike Bibby and the pick that would become Quincy Douby for Iverson -- this was when the Kings still had Artest, Miller, Wells and Abdur-Rahim, if I remember correctly. Fun times.
There also happens to be a brewing dramatic production involving Rudy Gay in two costumes. The first is that of a dude who is trying to get a five-year, $50 million contract extension by midnight. No joke -- the NBA season starts earlier every year, but the league has never saw fit to change the early bird extension deadline, so Gay and other players entering their fourth year get four games under the belt while waiting on an extension. This could be Spencer Hawes next season.
Gay's other role is as the co-star of a power struggle featuring O.J. Mayo. I cannot imagine this helps Gay in his just-discussed role as the dude seeking $50 million. Hmph.
FOOTNOTE OF NOTE
An addendum to the previous item, if you will: Memphis will almost assuredly not give Gay the $50 million he seeks. It might be a smart move. Gay hasn't exactly set the world ablaze in terms of personal improvement -- he's become an inefficient Kevin Martin, or a color-blind and possibly deaf-mute Danny Granger. But note that over the next two seasons the Grizzlies will pay Zach Randolph and Marko Jaric a combined $48 million. The $50 million to Gay would leave you with a solid, potentially quite good small forward through his prime. The $48 million to Z-Bo and Jaric leaves you with Z-Bo and Jaric. There's nothing like pro sports to point out really imbalanced priorities. (Hello, Kenny Thomas! Fancy meeting you here!)
ABOUT THE ELEPHANT OVER THERE
There really is too much going on in this game. I will say the decision of the mayor and the Maloofs to sell this game out is proving prescient, given Iverson's debut will draw SportsCenter attention. Having a rocking ARCO Arena is worth at least 75% of an Omri Casspi or 50% of a Tyreke Evans in terms of popular national appeal. If the clips of A.I. come along with a boisterous ARCO crowd and perhaps some sort of electric performance from a King, a bit of the chill will be taken off the nation's assessment of our dear franchise. That can't be anything but good. So cheers to Mayor KJ, the Maloofs, the Kings org, the business folk, and -- of course -- all the fans who buy the tickets. This is a good step.
(And I do think the crowd will be loud, barring a Kings meltdown, which I suppose shouldn't be barred from our imaginations. The crowd was on fire for a few games last season, including the win over the Lakers. The Grizz don't pull that sort of steez, but there's tinder in a home opener, especially with the whole fresh start angle.)
The game tips off at 7PM Pacific on Comcast SportsNet and KHTK 1140 AM. The game thread will also open at 7.