The Memphis Grizzlies have finally gone with the full-blown youth movement. As of Wednesday, incumbent veteran point guard Damon Stoudamire has been removed from the starting lineup to make room for Ohio State rookie Mike Conley to take his knocks.
According to the Commercial Appeal, Stoudamire and agent Aaron Goodwin are predictably peeved about this development:
"For the Grizzlies to demote Damon because of his age and because of the team’s record is unacceptable," Goodwin said. "They’re going to have to do right by Damon — move to get him out of there or restructure his contract so he can be bought out. Mr. Heisley is a good, compassionate man. But we’re not going to sit back and watch Damon’s career rot."
Imagine that: a professional sports club taking into account both the age of its players and the success of the team while making personnel decisions. Unheard of.
Let's review: A 34-year-old point guard who doesn't figure prominently in his teams long-term plans has not been spectacularly productive (7.3 points and 3.9 assists in 21.9 minutes per game to go with 39.7 percent shooting) and has helped lead the team all the way to a 9-22 record to start the season, good for last place in the Southwest Division. Meanwhile, waiting behind said veteran is a highly touted draft pick who played excellent basketball throughout his college career and is expected to be the future of the franchise at the point.
Yep, Damon should be the first priority in Memphis. No question.
In fairness, Goodwin's words should prove to be right in the long run, given that it will best serve the Grizz to deal Stoudamire for any future picks, cap space or other miscellaneous assets they can if they don't end up buying him out. But that will happen because it is the best course of action for the basketball team. The idea that the team has some moral obligation hear to honor Stoudamire's every demand needs to go. Immediately.