This off-season has already been a tumultuous one for our beloved Memphis Grizzlies and it is only eight days old. Between the Lionel Hollins' war on media and the Front Office apparently being torn between a successful past and an analytic future, there has been plenty of fodder for fans and radio shows alike to talk, blog, tweet and comment about. One of the aspects of the early off-season discussion is what to do to improve the major weakness of the roster; perimeter shooting. On this site, various viewpoints have been spoken on, one of them being a trade of Zach Randolph. In a two-part FanPost (I LOVE being a teacher! SUMMER!!!!!!!), I will take a look at both sides of the argument on dealing arguably the most popular Grizzly of all time, three reasons per side. Part one, I focus on keeping the big fella.
Reason 1- He was an All-Star, remember? 4th in the NBA in Double-Doubles and he has become an elite rebounder, averaging 2 more this past season than his career average. His defense has improved during his time in Memphis to the point where he is apparently capable of shutting down Dirk Nowitski for stretches of time. Z-Bo has become a more willing passer as well, especially post-Rudy, enabling better ball movement and allowing for Marc and Mike to be a bigger part of the offensive picture. The Rudy trade enabled Marc and Mike to take more offensive ownership while the high-low, inside-out philosophy that makes Zach so effective came back into focus. He had a good season; below his career average in shooting, but his growth in other areas and Marc and Mikes development absorbs some of that going forward.
Reason 2- We can move others to make the team better. Someone, somewhere will take on Tayshaun Prince. He still has value as a player. If you keep Zach, Ed Davis and Jon Leuer to be a stretch 4 type, Darrell Arthur becomes more expendable as well. There are teams out there that need/want leadership and the stretch 4 abilities that DA brings to the table. So, Tayshaun, DA, and we have 3 2nd round picks that we likely won't use all of. Time for some Trade Machine fun...
This only works if Metta World Peace opts out of his contract. This solves problems for all involved; Boston and L.A. get picks to use to get younger, Boston dumps some salary in their attempt to get under the Luxury Tax, Memphis dumps about $1 million themselves while adding shooting and a backup C and the Lakers get leadership in Tayshaun and a spacing PF in Bass. Looking more and more like they will be playing Pau at C more this season...
Scenario 2- Memphis gets Jared Dudley, Daniel Orton. Oklahoma City gets Marcin Gortat, Darrell Arthur. Phoenix gets Tayshaun Prince, Kendrick Perkins, OKC's 1st round pick (12th overall) and Memphis' 55th overall pick.
This trade gets the Grizzlies a great piece in Dudley who can play SG or SF and shoot the 3, plus a developmental C in Orton from OKC. Plus, it frees up about $3.5 million in cap space. OKC gets a pretty big upgrade at the C position in Gortat and a PF in Arthur who can spread the floor when Collison or Thabeet are in. Phoenix takes on two veterans who can help them defensively plus get two draft picks, including OKC's valuable 12th overall. They can take another big there and with 3 1st round picks can look to the future with vets to lead the way the next couple of seasons.
Reason 3- Zach has become an icon here in Memphis. Between his charity work, his Growl Towel inducing catch phrases, his Ninja Turtle-esque look and the growth he has made as a person during his career, the
We Don't Bluff City has really developed a strong affection for Zach. He has taken to Memphis as well, making the largest real estate purchase of the year in the 901 so far in is $3 million dollar new home. He says he will be staying in Memphis regardless of the future and he, along with Tony, are major parts of how the Grizzlies embody the city so well. Letting go of that could very well affect ticket sales, early on especially, and while the Rudy trade's success should have given the front office some room for trust, a Zach trade would really push the envelope.
So there you have it, three reasons for holding on to "Old Man River." The issues with Zach in the Spurs series were more about the Spurs disrespecting Tony and Tay's outside shooting ability than Zach's skills diminishing. Through other moves the Grizzlies can get the spacing they need while keeping the core of TA, Zach, Marc and Mike together. What has developed in Memphis between the city and team happened very naturally and is a real connection you rarely see in professional sports, and Zach is a big part of that relationship. While the city would probably still support the team even with his departure, it would be strained and tested, which may not be in the new front office's best interest at this point.
Stay tuned for part II, the arguments FOR dealing Zach Randolph.