MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Grizzlies introduced their newest additions Monday, two draft picks and a trade piece in Denver’s Kosta Koufos.
Here are three things we learned about a draft pick a long way from home, a potential replacement for Tony Allen and a guy going back to the bench on his new team.
1. Janis Timma bought himself a visit; his skills may keep him here a while
Some are speculating that Timma better enjoy his short time in the states. The Latvian small forward and Mr. Irrelevant — the 60th and final pick in last week’s NBA Draft — turns 21 Tuesday and he intends on spending more than one birthday on Beale Street.
The Twitter-active Timma has already amassed a Grizzlies fan following, even posting a shopped photo of himself Thursday night in a Memphis jersey next to Marc Gasol.
“I was glad that fans like me already and I hope I will not disappoint them,” Timma said in his steadily-developing English.
At 6-foot-8, 220, his skills may debunk the stash-away European project stereotype. A strong, athletic shooter who can also finish above the rim, Timma can score near and away from the basket.
Grizzlies personnel watched Timma put on an impressive show at the Adidas Eurocamp and apparently like his stamina as well. He went through one pre-draft workout here last Monday, then a second right afterwards when asked to add to the numbers.
Timma was in Las Vegas on Thursday, but it was 6 a.m. in Kraslava when he got the Grizzlies call. He said his family watched a live stream of the draft.
“It was a little bit stressful. I was scared when (Memphis’) 55th pick (went) to Denver,” Timma said. “But then I got a call and I was good.
“My mother didn’t sleep before work, and my dad, they were glad.”
While he didn’t get to watch a ton of NBA growing up in a double-digit time difference, Timma sported a pair of Jordans — his favorite player — as he met with Memphis media for the first time Monday. He knows he has to show what he can do, and maybe them some, in the Summer League if he wants that extra 11-hour flight back to the states after his stint with the Latvian National team this September in Slovenia.
If he does what he and the Grizzlies think he can do this summer, Timma will have plenty of chances to stroll his J’s up and down Beale.
2. Could the “Grindson” start his career without his adopted “Grindfather”?
Memphis drafted a potentially potent scorer in San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin. But also a potential defensive star to play alongside perennial All-Defensive teamer Tony Allen.
But as free agency opened Monday, Allen’s name was in several places. As he met with Memphis CEO Jason Levien, Allen’s name surfaced in Los Angeles, where his former Celtics coach Doc Rivers would like to have him help try to win the pair another title.
Allen wants to stay in Memphis, but will the money — and the years for the 31-year-old — be right?
Levien said Thursday that Franklin had already been dubbed “The Grindson,” a moniker shared from Allen, known to fans as “The Grindfather,” the creator of the Grizzlies’ now-famous grit-and-grind play. Even the Grindhouse is named after Allen.
“I look to learn a lot from him. He’s a great player, a great defender,” Franklin said. “Hopefully we get him back.”
Maybe Memphis knows something we don’t and there is a behind-the-scenes reason for drafting a guy who wants to be Tony Allen. Maybe he’ll have to be Tony Allen. Memphis already bounced back from a public relations nightmare with the coaching change, so it’s tough to imagine Allen not coming back.
But … if they don’t get him back, Memphis will angrily have to embrace a new grit with a new face of their grind.
3. Kosta Koufos doesn’t mind going back to the bench
Koufos, a 7-foot center with five years NBA experience, started 81 games last season. He comes to Memphis from Denver for Darrell Arthur and the rights to 55th pick Joffrey Lauvergne.
He won’t be starting in Memphis.
“This is the NBA. I’m going to be professional about it. I’m here to play hard and work hard,” Koufos said.
Koufos, a college teammate of point guard Mike Conley, will be a much-needed help in more than one area. It gives Memphis more breathing room when Gasol picks up early fouls and it frees up reserve power forward Ed Davis to get minutes behind Zach Randolph.
New coach Dave Jeorger wants to add a bit of speed to the offense and wants internal growth from guys like Davis. Koufos’s addition should help both.
It also removes a thorn in the Grizzlies’ side. Koufos had a career-high 16 rebounds in a game against them this season.
“He doesn’t need the basketball. He can make plays. That’s what made me mad about that game,” said Joerger.
Joerger may still get mad at Koufos, but Koufos isn’t mad about going back to the bench.
“My goal and everybody else’s ultimate goal is to try to win a ring,” Koufos said.