It is game three of the 2011 NBA playoffs. After winning their first playoff game in franchise history in San Antonio, the Memphis Grizzlies now look to take control of the series at home. The Grizzlies lead 88-86 with less than a minute remaining as Mike Conley initiates the offense. He swings the ball over to Shane Battier who then finds Zach Randolph on the wing.
As the shot clock begins to tick down, the Memphis offense becomes stagnant, an all-too familiar problem. But it is not a problem in this moment for Zach Randolph. Five seconds. Four. He shoots the three over the outstretched arm of Tim Duncan, who never in a million years thought Randolph would take a three with the game on the line. Swish.
And the legend of Zach Randolph grows in Memphis...
Ah yes, memories. Memories can be so powerful. They have the ability to captivate us, comfort us, or to evoke nostalgia. They can transport us to another time where the grass was greener. Truly, they can make us long for something that we had in the past.
They also have the ability to distort what is plainly obvious right in front of us.
Since the Chicago Bulls waived Tony Allen back in February and Zach Randolph is a possible buyout candidate in Sacramento, some people have wondered whether the Grizzlies could bring them both back to help in a return to the playoffs next season. The idea is that even if they may not be quite the players they once were, they could still perhaps help the team.
What would be your thoughts on Z-Bo (hypothetical contract buyout) and TA coming back next season as part of the #BounceBack?— Erik Tankmonger (@SainAsylum) April 29, 2018
Let’s not mince words here: This would be a very bad decision for every party involved.
First, it wouldn’t make much sense for Tony Allen and Zach Randolph from their perspective. Allen of course would probably jump at the chance for another NBA contract, and Randolph certainly wouldn’t mind playing in Memphis again. However, with the amount of young wings and bigs that the Grizzlies currently have, it is likely that they don’t play very much. Would they want the last memories that the people of Memphis have of them to be riding the bench? Or to see them as extremely reduced versions of themselves ?
It’s also important to realize that this move would not have any upside at all for the Memphis Grizzlies as an organization. If the Grizzlies decided to sign them both, it would only serve the practical purpose of fans, because it certainly would not help them in any basketball way.
Let’s just imagine for a second that Chris Wallace decided to say screw logic (honestly, if he made a decision that went against his own logic, it would probably be a good one) and told the Memphis media that Allen and Randolph were being brought back to help the Grizzlies return to relevance once more. This would make no sense considering that they would only stunt the development of the younger players on the roster. Tony Allen at this stage in his career doesn’t need to be taking minutes away from Wayne Selden Jr. or Dillon Brooks (or Luka Doncic?). Likewise, Zach Randolph doesn’t need to take minutes away from Ivan Rabb and Deyonta Davis (or Marvin Bagley III?). Allen and Randolph are simply not good enough at this point to warrant being a priority over younger players.
Of course, the Grizzlies could just sign them and allow them to be more of mentors than actual players, but that wouldn’t work out well either. There are many members of the Grizzlies’ fanbase coughs Grizz Facebook that would not be happy at all to see their idols finish out their careers on the bench in Memphis. For every DNP, there will be a long post about how Zach Randolph is so much better than Ivan Rabb!! Why is he not playing more?! Many fans would also not want their final memory of them to be riding the bench.
It’s also worth noting that Randoph and Allen would be taking roster spots from younger and, dare I say, more talented players. If you want to just make them coaches, that’s great. If the Grizzlies want to just bring them in to ignite the passion of the fan base, they can serve that role without taking away roster spots.
The allure of the past is very strong in Memphis. Change can be difficult, especially when there isn’t much to show for it yet. However, clinging to the past will not help the Memphis Grizzlies move into the future. Fans of the Grizzlies will always have incredible memories to cherish, memories that will always resound in the history of Memphis. But it is past time to keep those memories in the past and to not allow them to affect the future.
“Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. It’s the only way to become what you were meant to be.”