Although the Grizzlies are a lowly 18-53 on the season, they made national news headlines when they completed what many experts considered one of the most lop-sided trades in NBA history, sending former All-Star Pau Gasol to the Lakers in exchange for Kwame Brown and Javaris Crittenton and filler. The ripple effect from the trade is still being felt league-wide nearly two months later and will almost certainly play a hand in determining the eventual winner out of the Western Conference.
On the court, the Grizzlies have been just as bad without Gasol to anchor their front line, currently sitting only two losses ahead of Seattle for the worst record in the conference. Rudy Gay has stepped up as Memphis’ unquestioned leader and franchise player in Pau’s absence, posting averages of nearly 20 points a night to go along with six rebounds. Mike Miller–who many insiders were certain would be in a different uniform by the close of the trading deadline–has been consistent all season long for the Grizzlies, scoring 17 points and pulling down a team-high seven rebounds.
Former Lakers Kwame Brown and Javaris Crittenton have been up-and-down in their short tenure with Memphis with Kwame’s playing time decreasing by almost seven minutes, while Crittenton’s has risen from 12 to nearly 17. Javaris has taken advantage of the small increase too, bumping his scoring average with the Grizzlies to seven a game.
The Lakers desperately need a win after an inexcusable loss to the Bobcats on Wednesday that left Coach Jackson at a loss for words after the game. While returns from former players like Derek Fisher during his Jazz days usually garner boisterous responses from the STAPLES Center crowd, there shouldn’t be much emotion at all considering Brown/Crittentons’ relatively insignificant time with the Lakers. Moreover, unlike two nights ago, the Lakers need to approach tonight’s matchup in a business-like manner with the team slipping down the Western Conference standings with each loss.