|Grizzlies begin moving on without Gasol, day after trade with Lakers|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 02 February 2008 16:13|
The Grizzlies officially started their rebuilding Saturday night against the Utah Jazz, a day after trading Pau Gasol, the team's all-time leading scorer, to the Los Angeles Lakers for a trio of players and draft picks.
Gone are Gasol's pictures on the wall. Gone is his locker room space. Gone is the jersey hung near the rafters, promoting his Pau Amigos, his arm for the tickets for kids campaign. Gone are his 18.9 points and 8.8 rebounds a game.
``It's a sad time, and it's an exciting time,'' Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said. ``It's going to be an exciting time for Pau. He's going to go to a place where I think he's going to be very helpful to their championship dreams.
``But it's also an exciting time for us because we feel we've got a chance to be flexible in the offseason and mold a new-look team.''
Javaris Crittenton, along with Kwame Brown and Aaron McKie, was shipped to Memphis in the deal. The Lakers also gave up first-round draft choices this year and in 2010, and the rights to Marc Gasol, Pau's brother.
Pau Gasol had been with the Grizzlies his entire NBA career. He was obtained in a 2001 draft night deal with the Atlanta Hawks, who drafted him third overall. He entered the NBA the year Memphis joined the league after the Grizzlies relocated from Vancouver.
Gasol leads the franchise in 12 statistical categories, including points, rebounds and blocks. He was the 2002 Rookie of the Year and franchise's only All-Star, selected as a reserve in 2006.
Besides the Gasol trade, Memphis released veteran point guard Damon Stoudamire recently, and is expected to trade forward Stromile Swift to the New Jersey Nets for Jason Collins on Monday.
``It's been kind of crazy,'' reserve forward Hakim Warrick said. ``We've lost a lot of leadership these last couple of days and not to see (Gasol) is going to be weird. Just knowing he's not going to be back. Knowing he's at a different team. (It's) just a weird feeling not to see him in a Grizzlies jersey.
``It's a tough time right now.''
Like Warrick, other players acknowledged it was strange to see the team leader leave. Some quietly shook their heads about the move. Others saw it as an opportunity for more playing time. Most said it was a matter of sticking together and the team moving forward.
Rookie guard Mike Conley said he looked forward to the challenge of helping the Grizzlies start over and build a competitive team.
``It's almost a new organization trying to get back on its feet,'' Conley said. ``We're definitely up to the challenge. We think we have the pieces to start rebuilding. Hopefully, we can get that done and get back on our feet.''
Crittenton, another first-year point guard, said the situation will be better for him than it was in Los Angeles, where he was stuck behind veterans and averaged less than 8 minutes a game.
The 20-year-old, who left after his freshman season at Georgia Tech, was the 19th overall pick last summer. He averaged 3.3 points in 22 games for the Lakers.
``It was a shocker, but now that I look at it, I think it is a blessing to be here,'' Crittenton said. ``It's a better opportunity for me. In the Lakers organization, you had a lot of veterans, and it was tough to get playing time.
``This is a better opportunity for me to get out and experience the NBA.''