MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies are so eager to get to work that most of the players already have been in town playing pickup games for nearly a month, driven by the painful memory of their seven-game ouster in the first round of the playoffs.
"I definitely had a lot of motivation," Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph said Monday. "Like I said, a sour taste in my mouth probably will be there until we start playoffs this season."
He's not alone in thinking of what could have been if Memphis had only gotten past the Los Angeles Clippers last May. Rudy Gay, a late cut from the U.S. Olympic team, spent the summer working hard and said it's obvious what the Grizzlies expect and want.
"We made some moves, and we added some of the things we thought we needed to address and obviously we want to progress," Gay said during the team's media day. "So last year kind of left a sour taste in our mouth and obviously we want to do better than that. But I do think we could be a good team."
Just making the playoffs no longer is enough for the Grizzlies, not with a roster returning all five starters after two straight appearances and earning home-court advantage for the first time in team history last season. General manager Chris Wallace added Jerryd Bayless to back up Mike Conley at point guard and score off the bench with Wayne Ellington expected to provide a much-needed 3-point shooting threat.
The Grizzlies also re-signed Marreese Speights and Darrell Arthur to help back up Randolph and center Marc Gasol while letting O.J. Mayo leave as a free agent for Dallas. Coach Lionel Hollins joked that he wouldn't have minded if Memphis made headlines by landing Dwight Howard, but likes what the Grizzlies quietly accomplished.
"I'm excited about the group," Hollins said. "I don't think we made a big splash in moves, but we added what we needed and these guys perform as we expect then we should be better. What we've done, we've added depth. We've added quality people. We've added better shooting and a little better basketball I.Q."
The Grizzlies' biggest offseason move came June 11 when owner Michael Heisley announced he was selling the team to California tech company owner Robert J. Pera. The $350 million sale could be approved by the league this month. Pera has been busy lining up support with local minority owners including singer and actor Justin Timberlake and former U.S. congressman Harold Ford Jr. along with provisions that should tie the team to Memphis another 15 years.