NBA Draft Prospects Continue To Snub Memphis

By: 06.16.10  •  14 Comments

It seems like Pau Gasol still has some power over something. More than two years after the incredible garage sale deal of Gasol to the L.A. Lakers that damaged the Grizzlies’ reputation, Memphis is still dealing with questions about their direction and organizational leadership.

With less than two weeks before the NBA Draft, The Commercial-Appeal is reporting that there are a number of potential lottery picks who refuse to work out with the Grizzlies:

Fresno State small forward Paul George was the latest player to pull out. He canceled his appearance last Sunday, citing a groin injury. But there were indications that George doesn’t see Memphis as a place where he can receive significant playing time.

The most notable snub came from Butler forward Gordon Hayward.

Hayward is emphatic in his desire not to play for Memphis, sources said, adding that his camp indicated as much to the Griz as the reason he skipped last Sunday’s workout.

Also, the Griz have been unable to negotiate a visit from Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe, and Baylor forward Ekpe Udoh recently canceled his workout planned for Wednesday. Even Memphis native Elliot Williams has declined to commit to a meeting with the Griz, and he’s projected to be drafted late in the first round.

Avery Bradley also recently pulled out of a workout with the team because of an ankle injury.

This isn’t the first time Memphis dealt with a lack of respect from potential draft candidates. Last year, three different point guards (Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry and Jonny Flynn) refused to engage the Grizzlies despite their status as the second pick in the Draft. The team ended up drafting UConn center Hasheem Thabeet over players such as Curry, Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings. Thabeet never worked out for them. In fact, each time they asked, he offered injury concerns.

Memphis’ Director of Player Personnel Tony Barone Sr. is trying to downplay the situation.

“It doesn’t matter,” Barone Sr. told The Commercial-Appeal. “We like the workouts to see competitiveness, but if they chose not to work out for us then that’s OK. We’ve seen Gordon Hayward eight to 10 times. We’ve seen Bledsoe 10 to 12 times. It doesn’t bother me at all. It’s more of an indication that the agent is trying to position their players. That’s their job. I don’t have a problem with that either.”

It’s easy to look back with shoulda-coulda-wouldas, but some in the organization are now saying if they had seen Thabeet up close, they never would have picked him.

Memphis General Manager Chris Wallace contends these situations are par for the Draft course. But, it certainly doesn’t help.

The Grizzlies could use a good Draft. They have three first-round picks (12, 25, 28) and desperately need to add depth to a bench that was one of the most unproductive in the League.

Interestingly, Memphis worked out both Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez and Kansas’ Sherron Collins. It’s being reported that Vasquez was surprisingly spectacular. Could he be in the mix for one of the Grizzlies’ late first-round picks? projects Memphis to take Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson with their first pick while DraftExpress thinks they will choose Luke Babbitt from Nevada.

ESPN’s Chad Ford says the Grizzlies will take Fresno State small forward Paul George despite the workout snub.

At this point, the Grizzlies need any kind of bench help. According to, their starting lineup logged an NBA-high 1,474 minutes as a unit during the 2009-10 regular season. That number was by far the most in the League.

What do you think? Why is everybody snubbing the Grizzlies?

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