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Ball Don't Lie

Memphis’ GM cops to taking the idea to sign Gilbert Arenas from a fan’s blog

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Chris Wallace, trying to keep up with his RSS feed like the rest of us (Getty Images)

Every week, Memphis Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace visits the "Chris Vernon Show" on 730 AM, Yahoo! Sports Radio in Memphis, and it's a fascinating listen. Wallace is candid and engaging and a little off the rails at times, an interesting guest that stands out in a league full of tight-lipped personnel chiefs that either can't confirm nor deny, or attempt to negotiate through the media. And on Wednesday's show (a week removed from refusing to comment in the slightest on his team's interest in the player), Wallace admitted to getting the idea for Memphis' Gilbert Arenas signing from the blog Three Shades of Blue.

Here's Wallace's surprising confession:

"I'm going to admit this, I'm going to come clean. I'll be honest about it, okay? … I'm in the office of [President of Business Operations] Greg Campbell, he says, 'You outta read this thing that's on a blog today.' And I don't read the blogs, but this guy wrote this case for Gilbert Arenas, and I read the thing and said 'Greg, you know something? This guy makes some sense.'

"I thought about it and said, you know, we gotta look into it a little further.

"So I called his agent up. I'm willing to admit it — I pride myself on being open-minded — and you look at the finances involved, and the group of players involved, and why not?"

Considering that Arenas has been the most famous available free agent on the market all season, and that the Grizzlies have been down a guard since dealing Greivis Vasquez earlier this year, how is it possible that Wallace hadn't even thought of adding Arenas?

How is it that the GM of the Grizzlies isn't reading blogs, in 2012? He doesn't have to be breathlessly following tales of Dwight Howard dunking on a giraffe, but there is so much to learn from so many fantastic sites out there that it seems an anachronism, even if you have to have a copy boy print a few posts off for you. Considering that we know for a fact that Wallace attempted to hire a prominent NBA blogger a few years ago, this seems like a throwaway line. Perhaps Chris was just talking about this particular blog.

And this particular blog? Well, great job Lee Eric Smith, writer behind the column that Wallace read; but if he and Wallace are expecting this from Arenas ...

    • A reliable, steady veteran as a backup PG? Check.
    • Deadly from 3? Check.
    • Reliable scoring on the second unit? He's the proverbial Hibachi, prone to heat up at a moment's notice.

… they might be in trouble.

Arenas was perhaps the least reliable backup point guard in the NBA last year, calling his own number continually despite declining fortunes. The guy shot over six 3-pointers per 36 minutes in Orlando, even though he only hit 27 percent of them. Far from deadly. And it's hard to call a guy that shot 34 percent from the field (as Arenas did, in 49 games with Orlando) "reliable." The Magic were on TV quite a bit last season, do you call Gilbert heating up at a moment's notice?

That isn't to say that there isn't plenty of upside to this deal, as has been expertly outlined in blogs like this one, and this one. The Grizzlies need competence, no more and no less, from Gilbert Arenas. They don't need some Sixth Man Award-level bust-out scorer, and they certainly don't need him attempting a litany of 3-pointers when his abilities from long range have clearly diminished.

The Grizzlies really just need a point guard. Gil doesn't have to turn into Mark Jackson, he just has to bring the ball up and get out of the way.

As Wallace smartly pointed out several times in his interview, this is the ultimate low-risk move for his Grizzlies, mainly because Arenas won't cost much but also because the Grizzlies can be quick to dump the former All-Star if he doesn't work out. All it would do is put the team where they were at last week.

Chris Wallace, and these Memphis Grizzlies, continues to fascinate me. Thanks to the team and Chris Vernon for the continued insight we're afforded from afar.

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