Grizzlies ready to work Barnes, Wright into rotation in camp
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Matt Barnes knows Tony Allen so well that he went to the Grizzlies guard's wedding. Vince Carter has played with both Barnes and Brandan Wright in the past, and Zach Randolph says he's always liked Barnes except when the forward lined up against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Well, that's not a problem anymore.
The Grizzlies now just have to find enough minutes for the veteran they hope brings Memphis some much-needed outside shooting along with his own defensive nastiness. The also will work Wright into the mix on a roster otherwise unchanged from the group that lost the Western Conference semifinals to the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Memphis coach Dave Joerger believes both Barnes and Wright being veterans will help both adjust pretty quickly to their newest team. So many of the Grizzlies already are so familiar with their two newest teammates that Joerger said Monday he expects that will help them adapt just as well.
''They also know who we are,'' Joerger said. ''I sometimes think that does hurt guys coming in especially shooters who come in and start worrying about, `OK did I get the big guys the touches that they want? Was he open that time?' It's hard to shoot at the rim when you have only one eye on it, and one, `Should I pass it to this guy or that guy?' ... I think they'll do that pretty seamlessly.''
The Grizzlies start work Tuesday with training camp on the campus at the University of California-Santa Barbara. They held media day in Memphis on Monday before flying to California, and Barnes said he thinks it will be a very easy transition for both himself and Wright. Barnes is heading into his 13th NBA season with the Grizzlies his ninth different team. Wright heads into his seventh season with Memphis his sixth team.
''I've probably played this team more than I've played any other team in my career,'' Barnes said. ''I know their style, I know what they're about, and I know what they're asking of me, and I think it'll be a smooth transition.''
Barnes spent the summer honing his shot for a team that needs more outside shooting to ease the crush on Gasol and Randolph.
''As great as Zach is, I really feel like the game is transition into shooting and stretch fours. I've had a lot of success playing against this team as a stretch four, so just a lot of shooting, a lot of outside shooting, obviously the toughness and rebounding and the defensive mentality and edge I always bring,'' Barnes said. ''I think the 3 and the 4 will probably be where I find most of my minutes this year.''
Wright, a Tennessee native, expects an easy transition.
''I've been playing in the Southwest for the last four years,'' Wright said. ''I've seen these guys plenty of times, four times in the regular season, a lot of times in the preseason. I know this roster very, very well. I know what these guys like to do. I know what they want me to do and me fitting in shouldn't be a problem at all.''
Joerger plans to treat all of October as training camp, not just the week in Santa Barbara. The Grizzlies will be working with a group to monitor each player for potential injuries, and some testing already has shown the coach that not everybody is in the condition he wants early. A regular rotation might not be in place even by the season opener Oct. 28 against Cleveland and certainly not by the preseason opener Oct. 6 against Houston.
''You hope that we can do some new things offensively, while keeping to who we are and not letting your defense slip,'' Joerger said.
Notes: The Grizzlies have 15 guaranteed contracts but added five free agents Monday. They signed Yakhouba Diawara (ya-KOO-ba dee-a-WA-ra), Ryan Hollins, Michael Holyfield, Lazeric Jones and Daniel Nwaelele (wah-LAY-lay).
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker