Grizzlies in state of flux (cont.)
Posted: Friday April 6, 2007 2:00PM; Updated: Friday April 6, 2007 2:10PM
Heisley told me earlier this season -- and several league sources say the same thing -- that West will probably remain in a consultant role, which means that the Grizzlies will be seeking to win. Interim coach Tony Barone is expected to move up to the front office next season. "That's what they're telling me,'' Barone said. "I want to do what's best for the franchise.''
The word around the league earlier this season was that Barone would become the GM next year while continuing to work under president-emeritus West.
"I would love to do that,'' said Barone, who in midseason converted the Grizzlies from the controlled tempo pace of predecessor Mike Fratello to a run-and-gun team averaging 101.2 points this year (sixth highest in the league). "That would be an unbelievable dream come true for me.''
But lately I've been hearing that other options are being considered, which is no reflection of the esteem held for Barone. Not unlike the possibility of hiring Donovan -- longshot that it is -- it's another sign of the Grizzlies' state of flux.
"I'm going to talk to the organization about whatever they have in mind,'' Gasol said. "I would like to see a commitment to winning and to work for something and to have a purpose in this league. Otherwise it's really easy to sink in and lose a lot of games and have a bad year like we just had. I just want to have a feeling that my team and my franchise are fully committed to win and are going to invest for that to happen.''
It went unnoticed as the Grizzlies went south, but Gasol recovered from his preseason foot injury to have a terrific year. He's averaging career highs of 20.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 53.6 percent shooting from the floor.
"I can contribute in many different ways when my team is ready to play and ready to win every night,'' Gasol said. "I become a much more aggressive player and much more motivated because I'm on a mission. That's the way I feel, and that's why for great players their game goes up and improves on a better team. I do see myself having an important role on a contender-caliber team.''
"That whole issue of insecurity in Pau's mind shouldn't be as much of an issue as he makes it out to be,'' answered Barone. "He's here, he's being very well-compensated [with $63 million coming his way over the next four years] and he's a professional. What is he concerned about? Who is going to be the coach, and who is going to run the franchise? Those are legitimate concerns.
"But the next step is the draft, and I think all of that's going to be cleared up shortly,'' said Barone, referring to the outcome of the May 22 lottery. "Who is the coach going to be? I don't know about that, and I can't tell you when that's going to happen.''
Could that be because the Grizzlies can't make an offer to Phoenix assistant Marc Iavaroni until the Suns' playoff run ends? Just asking.