ND: If the Grizzlies are going to beat the Nuggets tonight how, who, and what needs to come alive for Memphis?
JC: If the Grizzlies are going to beat the Nuggets, the players that will need to step up are Darko Milicic and Juan Carlos Navarro. The production that Mike Miller, Rudy Gay and Hakim Warrick give Memphis is fairly consistent, so the two imports are the wild cards on both offense and defense. The way that the Grizzlies beat Denver late last season was the fact that Tarence Kinsey frustrated Allen Iverson so much that it took him completely off his game. Navarro will need to do that, as well as making AI work hard on the defensive end by making shots. Darko will need to get a double-double with a handful of blocks to help negate the Nuggets frontcourt. Oh, they will also need a small miracle -- LOL.
ND: Honestly, explain to me how the deal with the Lakers for Pau Gasol helped you guys? I've looked at it about a million times, from every angle, and still can't find rhyme nor rhythm in it.
JC: I wish I could give an answer to this that would make sense to an "outsider", but there isn't one. Perhaps 4-5 years from now this trade will look good (like the Baron Davis and Vince Carter trades), but for the immediate future it isn't going to pay any noticeable dividends. In reality, the simple fact was that Memphis fans had turned on Pau Gasol and weren't going to attend games as long as he was suiting up in Beale Street Blue. A large portion of the fault for this should be placed on Jerry West, who continually tried to build around the player he wanted Gasol to be, rather than the player that he was. This made people think that he was truly a franchise player capable of carrying a team, when he has always been a solid second option for a good playoff team. This trade was about money, not basketball.
ND: I may be one of the most critical voices of the Nuggets, but all things considered you guys have it tough. How do you stay objective and try to stay positive during a season(s) like Memphis is (has been) having?
JC: Unlike many fans, I am an analytical realist. I don't get wrapped up in pipe dreams. I look at the cold, hard facts and make predictions and judgments based upon that. That's why I only predicted a small improvement from last year compared to most people and came out and said that this team would only win 18 games for the year after the Gasol trade. So it is easy to stay objective when you have that mindset. I leave the drastic mood swings to my co-bloggers MemphisX, Zack and ChipC3. LOLStaying positive is a whole other ball of wax. I look at the moves this team can make (and should, IMO), and then see if they gel with what the owner, GM and coach have said about the direction of this team. Unfortunately, those two aren't as synchronized as I would like. But that is the life of almost any fan, I think. The offseason is almost here and that is where hope springs eternal for the fans of the cellar dwellers. After all, Boston and New Orleans weren't in the playoffs last year and now they lead their respective conferences. If that doesn't give you a smidgen of belief that anything is possible, I don't know what can.
Here are the trio of inquiries that Joshua asked me:
JC: The Nuggets currently have a former MVP (Allen Iverson), a world class All-Star (Carmelo Anthony) and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year (Marcus Camby) on the roster. How is it possible that they are outside the playoffs right now with that level of talent?
JC: Whose team is it -- Melo's or AI's?
ND: Who is the one guy on this Nuggets team that you hope and pray is gone for next year? (Feel free to include a certain coach if you like.)
Be sure to head over to 3 Shades of Blue to get my answers.