Monday at FedExForum was Media Day. Grizzlies players talked about adding muscle and losing fat and sports writers talked about the opposite. But it was good to have everyone back together again, taking a quick look back and a long look ahead.
The look back: losing Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs at Oklahoma City. “We had it in our hands,” forward Zach Randolph said.
Actually, the NBA sort of took it out of their hands by suspending Z-Bo for that game because they thought he got too rough with the Thunder’s Steven Adams. But that’s old business. Looking ahead: Before the 82-game regular season, before the preseason, there is training camp. It starts Tuesday in San Diego.
The Grizzlies are aiming for a fifth straight postseason appearance. They begin by spending four days on the West Coast and the theory for these excursions is that it speeds the bonding process while limiting distractions.
“Work is work,” Randolph said. “No matter where you’re at.”
So the Grit and Grind starts in California. The chief goal this season: getting off to a better start than last season.
“Everybody’s done a pretty good job to stay in shape and be ready,” said center Marc Gasol, proclaiming the knee he injured last season a non-issue now. “Everybody’s healthy. I’m excited. I’m real excited.”
Next Tuesday, Sept. 30, the Grizzlies open up training camp at the University of California San Diego — alma mater of controlling owner Robert Pera. It’s just a four-day trip and it’s clear several players signed late to the training camp roster would be advised to avoid the beach and focus on making a strong impression early.
The most intriguing signee is 6-9, 235-pound forward Michael Beasley. Way back in 2008 he was the overall No. 2 draft pick out of Kansas State. Since then, he’s been wildly disappointing. Last season he averaged 7.9 points and 3.1 rebounds in 15.1 minutes over 55 games for the Miami Heat. His career numbers: 13.2 points per game, 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists. If he’s inclined to play hard, which most of the time he is not, he could be helpful. We’ll see how patient the Grizzlies are willing to be with him.
Luke Hancock, a 6-6 sweet-shooting wing player at Louisville. He was a big part of the Cardinals’ 2013 NCAA title team. He was not taken in this year’s draft.
Patrick Christopher: 6-5 guard averaged 13.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists for the NBA Development League’s Iowa Energy last season, now a single-partner affiliate of the Grizzlies.
Earl Clark: Split time between Cleveland and New York last season. The 6-10, 225-pound Clark averaged 4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in 14.2 minutes over 54 games.
Kalin Lucas: Guard averaged 15.1 points, 5.0 assists with the Energy last season. Played on Michigan State’s 2009 NCAA Tournament finals team.
Hassan Whiteside: Goes 7 feet and 235 and spent a minute in Sacramento with the Kings, who drafted him in the second round in 2010. Split last season between pro teams in Lebanon and China.
A lot of things have to go right Saturday night in Oxford if the Memphis Tigers are to stay on the field with the No. 10 Ole Miss Rebels.
One of those things is redshirt sophomore QB Paxton Lynch has to play a clean game.
In other words, no fumbles, no interceptions, and crisp passes that find the intended targets in rhythm.
So far, the 6-7 Lynch has mostly delivered on this. His 66.0 completion percentage leads the American Athletic Conference and ranks 26th nationally.
He has thrown for 766 yards and five TDs with just two picks. He’s also averaging 25.7 rushing yards a game, just enough to loom as a can’t-forget-about-him threat.
His most impressive throw against Middle Tennessee came as he was running across his own end zone and fired a strike about 15 to 20 yards away as he threw across his body.
“Paxton’s thrown a lot of great balls this year,” tight end Alan Cross said. “Last year, he was kind of timid. But he’s gotten a lot better, doing a great job of putting it on the money.”
And the price war continues among the ride-sharing services in Memphis.
Lyft is slashing prices on its rides in Memphis by another 10 percent, the company announced Thursday. With a 10 percent price cut in May, plus another 10 percent now, that’s 20 percent off its normal fares for rides in the city.
The impetus is the bare-knuckle brawl in which Lyft is currently engaged with competing ride-sharing service Uber, with both companies intensely focused on the other as they perform nearly identical services.
The Jimmy John’s sandwich chain has disclosed a credit and debit card security breach at some of its locations – but the Memphis locations don’t appear to have been affected.
According to the company, “it appears that customers’ credit and debit card data was compromised after an intruder stole log-in credentials from Jimmy John’s point-of-sale vendor and used these stolen credentials to remotely access the point-of-sale systems at some corporate and franchised locations between June 16, 2014, and September 5, 2014. The security compromise has been contained, and customers can use their credit and debit cards securely at Jimmy John’s stores.”
About 216 stores appear to have been affected, the company said. But none in Memphis were listed on a tally the company released this week.