Acquiring Randolph would be worst move Grizzlies could make
By Geoff Calkins (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Two years ago, late in Brandon Roy’s rookie year, the Portland Trail Blazers lost yet another game. Zach Randolph went on a rant in the locker room afterward, calling out teammates, pointing fingers, telling other players they weren’t pulling their weight.
Roy told Randolph to sit down and shut up. The next day, he went to see Portland general manager Kevin Pritchard and told him to get rid of Randolph.
“We can’t win with this guy,” said Roy, in so many words.
Pritchard dealt Randolph to Isiah Thomas’s New York Knicks that offseason. Now the Knicks are trying to find a sucker to help them rectify Thomas’s mistake.
Enter the Memphis Grizzlies. You knew that was coming, right?
If there’s a dumb move out there to be made, chances are your local NBA team will find a way to get involved.
Sure enough, the entire NBA universe is reporting that the Grizzlies and Knicks have talked about a swap that would bring Randolph to Memphis in exchange for Marko Jaric and Darko Milicic.
Sources close to the negotiations say that the deal can’t go through until Knicks president Donnie Walsh and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni stop high-fiving each other long enough to complete the paperwork.
Or maybe the Knicks do not want to appear too eager. Although, why wouldn’t they be eager to get rid of a fat, shoot-first power forward who destroys locker rooms, disdains defense, regularly shows up in police reports and will make $48 million over the next three years?
So the Knicks called the Grizzlies. Because what other team were they going to call?
The Clippers already said “no.” The Knicks knew they couldn’t foist a guy like Randolph off on a credible franchise.
“Hello, Chris Wallace?” said Walsh, which I actually understand. It was worth a try, right? But why didn’t Wallace slam down the phone?
Wasn’t it just yesterday that he and Grizzlies owner Mike Heisley were talking about building with the young kids, and letting them grow and develop, and not wavering from the three-year plan?
How does Randolph fit with a three-year plan? How does he fit with an impressionable, young team?
Sam Smith, who covered the NBA for roughly 126 years for the Chicago Tribune, once took a good stab at re-creating Randolph’s rap sheet. I’d include it in this column but, honestly, I don’t have the room.
Randolph was suspended by the Trail Blazers for sucker-pouncingpunching a teammate. He was suspended by the Trail Blazers for making obscene gestures to a fan. He was arrested in Portland for driving under the influence of booze and dope. He was sued by a woman for sexual assault. And, my personal favorite: While on bereavement leave from the Trail Blazers in connection with the death of his girlfriend’s cousin, Randolph left a strip club without paying the bill.
This is a man the Grizzlies have thought about adding to their impressionable young nucleus? This is the guy they want teaching Darrell Arthur what it means to be a power forward in the NBA?
Arthur: “Boy, it was really stupid of me to get caught with women and weed at the NBA’s rookie seminar.”
Randolph: “It sure was, rook. Next time, remember to disconnect the smoke alarm.”
What possible rationale could there be for this kind of move? At worst, Randolph kills the locker room and the team. At best, he gets the Grizzlies five more wins and makes it harder for the franchise to find a a long-term answer at power forward in next year’s lottery. All for the bargain basement price of $48 million over the next three years.
Please, don’t tell me the deal will enable the Grizzlies to get ride of Milicic’s bad contract, either. The Grizzlies offered Milicic that contract just one year ago. Now that mistake could be the team’s justification for making a bigger one?
It’s management by impulse, by overreaction, by today’s spasm of an idea. Give Marc Iavaroni all the power. Play offense like the Suns. Strip Iavaroni of everything but his job. Play defense like the Pistons. Deal the expensive power forward for financial flexibility. Acquire an expensive power forward and flexibility be hanged.
Mind you, the preceding paragraph has all happened in the last year. And Heisley wonders why the franchise doesn’t win.
The Grizzlies should walk away from any potential trade for Randolph. If they won’t listen to me, they should listen to the people who know the big guy best.
The Trail Blazers drafted Randolph out of Michigan State. They employed him for six years. And when they assembled a locker room of promising young talent, they shipped him as far away from that locker room as possible.
Now the Grizzlies are assembling a locker room of promising young talent. And they’re thinking about making Randolph the highest-paid player — and therefore, the instant leader — of that team?
Don’t do it, Mr. Heisley. Don’t abandon your three-year plan.
Zach Randolph is not a guy you can win with. Ask Brandon Roy.