Roster changes to the Goon Squad


Kalon Ambrose

Once the Memphis Grizzlies, now the Goon Squad, playing the Los Angeles Spurs.

2015’s NBA trade deadline was one of the most memorable in recent years. While 2016’s break may not have been as noteworthy overall, it was definitely noteworthy for the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies started the All-Star break with a three-way trade with the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Hornets. Though the Grizzlies lost Courtney Lee, they gained PJ Hairston, Chris “Birdman” Anderson and four second-round picks.

After hearing the losses of the trade, some fans panicked. Courtney Lee was considered the team’s best free-throw shooter, and played a three-and-D style.

Other Grizz fans were less concerned.

“Courtney Lee was indeed a solid asset,” Abe Nahmias (10) said. “However, he is a free agent this summer and we needed to get some value for him…Courtney was a solid three point shooter, but he was no Steph Curry.”

PJ Hairston could be a suitable replacement for Lee’s role. However, many Grizz fans are worried about Hairston’s behavior issues and past arrests, while others are worried about Hairston’s inconsistent three-point shooting.

These fans should pause and remember the story of Memphis idol Zach Randolph. Randolph was plagued by behavioral problems and showcased poor, unprofessional basketball on the Trail Blazers, the Knicks and the Clippers. It’s hard to remember that our beloved Z-Bo, now a community figure and selfless teammate, was once such a problematic player. Hairston could follow in Randolph’s footsteps.

Memphis may be the perfect place to develop not just for Harrison but Chris Anderson also.

Skeptics of Birdman point out that he is only two years younger than the seemingly monolithic Tim Duncan. However, these critics seem to have forgotten that Anderson’s career may end like Vince Carter’s. Maybe Anderson will similarly develop a new skill with the Grizzlies to improve his existing career. Even if Anderson is ultimately useless to the team, his tattoos and frightening matches perfectly to the Goon Squad team ideal.

“He adds to the whole Goon Squad effect,” Molly Morrison (10) said.

What is Goon Squad? It’s an alternate name for the Grizzlies that was recently put into circulation by Mike Conley via Twitter. Goon Squad perfectly encapsulates Memphis’s ugly, fundamental, raw, kick-you-in-the-face, playstyle- and Memphis fans have accepted it lovingly. We are goons!

Speaking of goons, the Grizzlies acquired Lance Stephenson in a trade with the Clippers for Jeff Green.

Stephenson, is most known for his infamous ear-blowing. More important and less meme-related is his unpredictability factor. After emerging as a young star on the Pacers, he had a largely unsuccessful seasons with the Clippers and Hornets. Which season game will he bring to the Grizzlies?

Producing a healthy balance of ESPN Top 10-grade explosive dunks and Shaqtin’ A Fool-worthy turnovers, Stephenson has played like both versions of himself. While playing more of a leading role for the Conley-less Grizzlies, Lance Stephenson has been very impressive making clutch plays for the team. With added bench depth and wild card factor, Stephenson is a pickup with high risk and possible high reward.

As far as the other end of the trade goes, the loss of Green seems to not be a huge one.

“He was inconsistent and although he had some very high scoring nights we would never win games. He is like Rudy Gay. He will give you stats and athleticism and make you think he could be a star, but he just isn’t a winning player,” Morrison said.

Out of the three players that will develop in different ways, at least one is bound to be an important part of our team in the future. However, all three of them will contribute to the “Goon Squad” concept Conley alluded to.