As someone that has been visiting NBA message boards since the late 1990s, I can tell you that the yearly “I bet [insert owner/general manager] visits here and steals our ideas”-threads are routine. Because NBA fans like us tend to bring up the same obvious signings, deals, or hirings as those who run front offices, you’re bound to get one “TDotRapz92” that thinks the team swiped his or her idea.
There’s no evidence that new Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera swiped any ideas from Grizzlies fans by visiting a popular team message board. For one, personnel decisions aren’t his call. And secondly, the two Grizzlies moves the team has made since Pera’s new front office of Jason Levien and John Hollinger took over dealt with some pretty obscure players and less than obvious machinations.
Still, Pera does follow and did recently chime into his team’s official message board. And when he plopped down for a visit last week, no Grizzlies fan believed him. From a Grizzlies.com thread entitled “Do You Guys Think The Front Office Get Ideas From Us,” started on Feb. 4:
More (rightfully) dismissive replies followed before ‘BeBoutBidness’ and ‘LilFrontOffice’ pointed out that Pera was awarded “All-Star” status (usually given to a poster with a massive amount of posts) after just one message on the board – a sign that this might not be some joker that was quick to grab the “Robert Pera” handle.
And then, in his first meeting with local media in three months on Tuesday, Pera admitted to following the team’s message board. If not grabbing ideas from it as the thread he replied to posited. Rightfully, the thread was bumped up almost immediately.
The Grizzlies, you’ll remember, were the team that admitted to signing guard Gilbert Arenas last season after then-personnel boss Chris Wallace saw the idea on a fan’s blog. And we write “admitted to” because, even on a minimum salary, Arenas was a terrible acquisition that took possessions away from players that could do more productive things with them. This is why the team’s current front office, obsessed with efficiency while having to work under the constrains of the financial terms Pera’s predecessor in Michael Heisley signed players to, is trying to work around the fringes instead of going for the biggest name possible.
“Going for the biggest name possible” is a trademark of all message boards. At least once per summer you’ll find a poster sending out an exploratory Allen Iverson or Kenyon Martin thread, or wondering if they’ll have enough in place to lure LeBron James in 2014, and that’s fine – because this is what some message boards and blogs are for. By and large, though, the advice of former Bulls personnel chief Johnny “Red” Kerr should be heeded above all: “If you listen to the fans, you end up sitting next to them."
Of course, Kerr was literally talking about what side of the coin to choose in a coin flip before the 1979 draft. The current Grizzlies front office is attempting to ignore fans while taking on tougher, more elaborate decisions. Which is probably why a search of “Jon Leuer” before Feb. of 2013 on this particular board produced no results. Pera and co. aren’t stealing, they’re just listening. Observing, but not reacting – as we’re sure most team front offices do in the wake of winning streaks, losing swoons, trade rumors, and big moves.
The rumored next big move for Memphis was thought to be a potential deal including Grizzlies All-Star Zach Randolph, but Levien shot that down on Tuesday. From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
“There was never a serious discussion or dialogue around trading Zach Randolph. I can say that categorically. We’re really proud of him for going back to the All-Star Game.”
It was probably always possible that the new front office could deal Randolph, but it would have had to take a monster offer to blow Memphis away.
With that said, and with our respect for Randolph as a player and person coming in the highest regard, it should be noted that we’re sure few teams were really banging on Memphis’ door to deal for a player that will turn 32 in the offseason, and make $34.3 million over the next two seasons. Even if he is an All-Star, and boasts that rarest of NBA possessions – a fluid and at times dominant low post game.
It’s best for the Grizzlies to keep him. And, considering the price, probably best for other teams to back off.
Unless someone on a message board has a suggestion.