SBD/Issue 145/Franchises

NBA Franchise Notes: Grizzlies Losing Relevance In Memphis

Writer Says Grizzlies Have
Become Almost Irrelevant
In Memphis, Geoff Calkins writes this "wasn't just another lousy season" for the Grizzlies, this was the "season the team became almost totally irrelevant." Calkins wonders, "When's the last time you ... felt really passionate about the Grizzlies?" A story about the Univ. of Memphis men's basketball team on the paper's Web site "will generate 400 comments," while a story about the Grizzlies "will generate four, possibly." Memphis fans "stopped caring about the Grizzlies because they perceived that management stopped caring about the Grizzlies." This is the summer for Grizzlies Owner Michael Heisley "to change that" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 4/16).

AHEAD OF THE PACE: In Indianapolis, Mike Wells notes the Pacers "were one of two NBA franchises to increase attendance by at least" 10% this season, and Pacers co-Owner Herb Simon said, "We spent money finding out what upset the fans. We had focus groups and everything. We tried to correct what turned the fans off. The style of play the coach has put in is something the fans like. I'd rather have 16,000 people pay a little less than 13,000 paying a lot. It's something we had to give back to our loyal fans. We want them to come as often as they can. We just felt we had to lower prices." Simon added, "I think we've made a lot of progress this year, despite the fact we didn't make the playoffs" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/16).

JOB OPENING: T'Wolves Owner Glen Taylor said that the team's new top basketball exec "will select the next head coach." Taylor: "If I'm going to have a person in charge of basketball operations, I want that person to be comfortable with who is going to coach here." Taylor said of possible candidates for the position, "Basically, we've had a number of candidates, but we probably have four outside candidates, so we'll have six people that will go through the whole process." Taylor said that T'Wolves GM Jim Stack and Assistant GM Fred Hoiberg are the "inside candidates" for the job (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/16).

DISAPPEARING ACT: In California, Marcus Thompson III wrote Warriors Exec VP/Basketball Operations Chris Mullin, "once the face of the franchise for the second time in a generation, has practically disappeared." Mullin is "expected to be gone completely." Team sources indicated that Mullin's days as the franchise's "head basketball honcho are numbered." The situation has "many fans and NBA insiders scratching their heads" (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 4/13).

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