Grizzlies fans who follow the NBA beat particularly closely will have already read this excellent investigation into the Grizzlies future over at NBA Fanhouse.
The article centers around Zach Randolph's love for Memphis and apparent jealousy for Pau Gasol, who received a three-year contract extension from the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this year.
"Me and Pau Gasol got signed to the same deal when he was in Memphis and I was in Portland,'' said Randolph, whose contract actually is slightly less, with Randolph making $16 million this season and $17.33 million next season and the Lakers star earning $16.45 million and $17.82 million in those seasons. "We got the same contract, and it got extended. ... I hope (to get the extension done this summer). I'd definitely like to get it done.''
Tomasson then shifts his focus from Zach Randolph to the Grizzlies other summer plot lines, namely the contract extensions of both Ronnie Brewer and Rudy Gay. He talks to owner Michael Heisley -- who isn't known for his willingness to spend -- about the prospect of signing three contract extensions this summer:
"We're going to do everything we can to keep him,'' Heisley said. "Everybody is writing this (junk) about how we're going to lose Rudy. But how are we going to lose him (due to the Grizzlies being able to match any offer)? I like Rudy. He's a special player. He's not a franchise player, but, if he keeps improving, I'm sure he will become one.''
For the man who selected Hasheem Thabeet #2 overall instead of Tyreke Evans, the University of Memphis standout and lock-in candidate for Rookie of the Year, Michael Heisley is demonstrating fairly shrewd basketball logic here.
First of all Heisley dodges the questions and makes no promises to lock himself into a Zach Randolph extension, despite the fact that Z-Bo is quickly becoming the most popular player in the Memphis Grizzlies short history. This move is clever because Heisley does have options -- three 1st round picks in a PF/C heavy draft -- that he can use to keep Randolph's value below the maximum.
So why not run the same bluff with Rudy Gay? Because promising to match the money might actually drive down Rudy's value -- the exact opposite -- because of the young scorer's particular situation. A team, say the Knicks, won't want to offer Rudy maximum money if it will be matched, because until Memphis responds a week later all that cap space is tied up. By threatening to match, as a bluff or not, Heisley has essentially bought himself time to negotiate with Rudy and the fanbase.
Finally Heisley also recognizes the difficulty of the situation with Ronnie Brewer. Because the Grizzlies invested a first-round pick in Brewer, he is an asset that should be re-signed unless the cost is prohibitive. If a team were to throw over $5 million at Brewer (I think this is unlikely given Brewer's injury and the uncertainty of his abilities outside of Utah's assist-heavy system), then that 1st round selection becomes a sunk cost. But ideally the Grizzlies want to recover some of the value of the asset they sacrificed to receive Brewer (especially since Brewer is arguably a greater asset then a 1st round pick).
I will admit that it's a bit awkward that a reporter asks the owner of the franchise about his plans for the summer, however. You wouldn't expect to see an interview with many owners in the league, since GM's run the vast majority of NBA teams. Again more evidence that Chris Wallace is quickly becoming less of a decision-maker and more of a facilitator, which could be either good or bad, depending on how you read his checkered history.