Every since the offer sheet for Josh Smith was matched, the news of the Memphis Grizzlies being interested in New York Knick power forward Zach Randolph has been cooly received by the Grizzlies fan base. After Isaih Thomas tenure, it seems everything he wrought is deemed toxic and unfit for consumption. So when Memphis Commercial Appeal Grizzlies beat writer Ron Tillery blogged that the Grizzlies were still considering trading for the troubled power forward, I took notice.
This topic has been discussed thoroughly on the Grizzlies message board and my initial reaction was pre-rehab Whitney Houston: "Hell to the Naw!" However, after digesting the potential deals, I think there is a deal out there that makes sense for the Grizzlies (my only care in this matter).
Now I admit that any deal that brings in Zach Randolph is a very big risk. Zach Randolph has never played significant minutes on a winning team. Being a member of the deteriorating Trailgangsters and the end of the Isiah era in New York, this might not be all due to him. Randolph has simply been reared as an NBA players in two of the most toxic locker rooms in recent NBA history.
His teammates that went .500 in Portland were as follows: Rasheed "CTC" Wallace, Bonzi Wells, Damon "Tin Foil" Stoudamire, Jeff McInnis, Derek Anderson, Ruben Patterson, Darius Miles and Qyntel Woods. Is there any wonder why he is a knucklehead? This was the season in which Portlands fans and ownership had seen enough and they started breaking up the gang to rebuild into the team they have today. (Interestingly, the Blazers have missed the playoffs 5 years during their rebuilding.) The issues in New York are well documented and ongoing and just like the Blazers, they pre-dated Randolph's arrival. So it isn't like he was the primary cause of the pitiful teams, he just did not resist the awful cultures that were in place.
The current Grizzlies are an entirely different animal. The team is free of knuckleheads with the exception of the recently acquired Antoine Walker. So if the Grizzlies do trade for Randolph, I expect Walker to be part of the trade or immediately bought out. Having both is a recipe for disaster. In fact, the Grizzlies are probably one of the tamest teams in the NBA. The majority of our core guys would be considered gym rats and rather vanilla besides Mayo. So if Randolph continues with his history of assimilating, he might just go with the flow and be a productive member of our up and coming team.
The deals I would do for Zach Randolph are as follows:
(1) Darko Milicic, Antoine Walker for Zach Randolph
(2) Darko Milicic, Marko Jaric, Adriana Lima for Zach Randolph
(3) Darko Milicic, Antonie Walker, Marko Jaric for Zach Randolph and Jared Jeffries
The best deal for Memphis is #2. This is the deal that I prefer and for sake of this article, this is the deal that I will be assuming that Chris Wallace will negotiate.
Now let's consider Zach Randolph the player. Randolph is a legit 20 point/10 rebound per game player in the NBA. At 27 years old and with 3 years left on his contract, it means the the Grizzlies should be getting the best three years of Randolph's career. Should Randolph come in dedicated to restart his career, his play could lift the Grizzlies out of the Western Conference cellar into the middle of the pact. Think 10th through 12th in the West unless we go on a miracle run like the Blazers of last year.
Offensively, Randolph is not just a low post threat, he is an elite scorer when motivated and in shape. He has a dependable jumpshot out to 18 feet and unfortunately started extending his range to the 3pt line in New York. He is almost impossible to contain one on one, even by great defenders. His combination of post moves, strength and ability to play angles makes him a load to stop. His down fall is that he does not make quick decisions with the ball as of late and stalls the offense as he "goes to work" on his defender. Sometimes he gets to caught up in the individual matchup.
Defensively, Randolph does not exert much energy. He is slow to get back on defense and not much help blocking shots. He is grounded mostly thus most of his help on defense will come in the form of finishing off an opponents possession by securing the defensive rebound. For the Grizzlies, this has been a problem almost since the day the team arrived. So if Hadadi and Gasol can provide adequate defense (which is doubtful) then the Grizzlies could actually have an improved defensive front. So you are not acquiring Randolph with the hopes of him developing into a defensive stopper, no more than you would acquire Reggie Evans and expect 24 points on offense per game. Randolph is a turbocharged version of Hakim Warrick.
So Zach Randolph, at the right price, could provide a cheap upgrade for the Grizzlies and keep them competitive next season while maintaining their youthful core. It would be a $48 million gamble which essentially takes the Grizzlies out of the free agent market in the future but it could pay very big dividends, if Zach Randolph wants to play.