Former Sixer Speights flourishing in Memphis

Posted: February 20, 2012

MEMPHIS - Not long after the 76ers traded former first-round draft choice Marreese Speights to the Memphis Grizzlies for two second-round picks, coach Doug Collins said he wished Speights well and hoped he excelled in Memphis.

And that's what he's doing.

Speights, who couldn't get on the floor in Philadelphia, went into Monday night's game against the Houston Rockets on a roll. Starting at power forward, the 6-foot-10 Speights had averaged 16.0 points and 10.9 rebounds while shooting 61.1 percent from the floor in the three previous games. In the last seven, he had averaged 12.9 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 31.4 minutes.

Speights posted a season-high 20 points and a career-high 18 rebounds (a Grizzlies season high) on Feb. 15 at New Jersey, and he has recorded the three highest single-game rebounding totals of his career since joining the Grizzlies on Jan. 4. Going into Monday's game, Speights had grabbed 10 or more rebounds six times this season.

"It's been one of the best moves of my life," Speights said via phone. "It's been great. We have a good team and we're winning."

On Tuesday, for the first time, Speights will get a chance to face the team that drafted him with the 16th overall pick in 2008. He said he harbored no bad feelings for the Sixers (20-12).

Speights, who made four starts in three seasons with the Sixers, had his best season with the team in 2009-10, when he averaged 8.6 points and 4.1 rebounds. He has started 26 games with Memphis.

"They gave me a chance to come over here and play and show the things that I can do," he said.

When he realized that he did not fit into the Sixers' plans for the future, Speights said, he asked the Sixers to trade him to a team that would play him. He also said that he had nothing but respect for the Sixers, their fans, and Collins.

"The whole time I was there, [Collins] respected me," Speights said. "He respected me and he looked out for me. The fans are great there. I can't say anything bad about my time in Philadelphia."

Speights said that he is most happy to be showing that he can rebound and play defense. His seeming lack of desire to do either were contributing factors in the Sixers' trading him away.

"I'm playing well, and this is the way I could have played in Philadelphia if I had gotten the chance," Speights said. "I think everybody forgot the things that I did good when they used me. They think about the last year and a half, and everybody thought it was my fault. But I'm over that. It's good to be in a new scenario, a new team and a new environment and getting to play basketball."


Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com or @JmitchInquirer on Twitter.

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