Big expectations for the Grizzlies

Updated: July 5, 2004, 12:15 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
Jerry West has one thing on his mind this summer. . . and it's a whopper.

"Our primary goal is for a big guy. Our primary wish is for a big guy," Grizzlies president Jerry West said. "We're going to try to be aggressive. We have to go get our coach (Hubie Brown) another player that will help make a difference."

Over the course of the last two seasons, West has worked miracles in Memphis. He has, brick-by-brick, rebuilt one of the sorriest franchises in the league. Whether it was the hiring of Hubie Brown, the new professionalism that he's infused within the entire franchise or role players like James Posey who he's helped turn into stars, the Grizzlies have become the Pistons of the West -- a starless, selfless team that values teamwork, depth and playing the right way over everything else.

A stunning 50-32 record last season landed them their first-ever appearance in the playoffs. Brown took home coach of the year honors. West walked away with the executive of the year award.

However, all of it provided little solace to either Brown or West when the team was swept by the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. The rout exposed the Grizzlies' two biggest weaknesses -- a physical dominating presence in the middle and a point guard willing to play tough defense. Tony Parker drove to the basket at will virtually untouched despite the fact that the Grizzlies knew that getting physical with Parker usually shuts him down. They also had no answer inside for Tim Duncan or even Rasho Nesterovic.

West didn't build this team to win 50 games. He wants to win a championship. Can he use his depth to acquire that elusive big man who has escaped him since he left the Lakers? Here's a look at what to expect as Insider continues its summer blueprint series.


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Chad Ford | email

Senior Writer, NBA Insider

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