Grizzlies Headed For Change - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Carrie Anderson

Grizzlies Headed For Change

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The fan exodus toward the end of the Memphis Grizzlies' latest playoff collapse didn't go unnoticed by

team president Jerry West. And neither did the attitude of the triumphant Dallas Mavericks.

"They were laughing at us. I don't like that," West said Wednesday. "I don't like to be laughed at."

The Mavericks swept Memphis with ease in their first-round series, with Game 4 at the Grizzlies' FedExForum. More than 3,000

seats were empty as the final game began and hundreds more were vacant by the time it ended with a 102-76 Dallas victory.

The first-round sweep was the third in three years for Memphis and put the Grizzlies at 0-12 in postseason play, an NBA record.

"Somewhere along the way, we've disconnected from our fans," West said at a brief news conference on the Grizzlies practice

court. "Is it frustration with not being able to win important games?"

Following playoff sweeps by Phoenix last year and San Antonio the year before, West reworked the Grizzlies lineup. He refused

details on his future plans this time but said he would not ask Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley for any big spending on new

players.

"If I owned this team, I would say don't spend a penny because the losses here are enormous," West said.

West, who came out of retirement four years ago to rebuild the Grizzlies, praised them for their 49 regular-season victories while

at the same time complaining about their uninspired playoff performance.

"If these players can't get it done when it counts, then maybe we need to start over," he said, but then softened, adding "that

won't happen."

West said he supports coach Mike Fratello and his staff "100 percent."

The Grizzlies' most pressing needs are rebounding and free-throw shooting and "we need our better players to play like they're

better players," West said.

Memphis also needs "one great star" who can come through with big plays under pressure and inspire teammates. West refused to say

if he expects to find such a player among the current Grizzlies or if he must look elsewhere.

"We've got a very good young player in Pau Gasol, but he's not a superstar at this point ... He's an all-star, and there's a major

difference," West said.

But the experience of postseason play can help.

"He's a player you can throw the ball to and he's going to score," West said. "But when they start ganging up on him, the

experience is going to have to take over and he's going to have to learn how to do it."

While the Grizzlies had one strong showing, forcing Game 3 into overtime, they were outrebounded and outhustled throughout the

series with Dallas.

West declined to talk about what the Grizzlies will be looking for in the draft or if he expects any trades in the offseason.

But, he noted, "we haven't stood pat since we've been here."

Despite the postseason losses, the franchise has made big strides since moving to Memphis in 2001 from Vancouver, where the

Grizzlies won 23 games in their best season.

In West's second year at Memphis, the Grizzlies had 50 regular-season victories and their first playoff appearance.

The Grizzlies have long been near the bottom of the league in rebounding and ranked 28th this season.

"If you're talking about getting significantly better, then we've got to bring in somebody who rebounds the ball," Fratello

said.

The Grizzlies are proud of their regular-season record, Fratello said, and expect to be in position for another run at the playoffs

next year.

"You just hope you don't get the team that's playing the best basketball in the league in the first round," he said.

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