Stop me if you have heard this one before, the Memphis Grizzlies have announced Zach Randolph is no longer on the trade block. That phrase has taken the place of “Dwight Howard is unhappy and requesting a trade” as the overplayed phrase of each NBA season.
The fact that Randolph is off the trade block should come as no shock; he was rumored to be on the trade block at the beginning of last season then off again, then rumored to be on the block around the trade deadline then off again, then again this summer and off the block once again, and even this season as the Grizzlies buoyed between tanking or not tanking during the absence of Marc Gasol for almost two months. The on-again, off-again relationship Randolph has with the trade block is as rocky as Rihanna and Chris Brown’s relationship.
The reason why this comes up this particular time is because the Grizzlies apparently turned down an offer for Randolph from the Phoenix Suns. The Suns are the only team that has multiple first-round picks in this year’s draft as well as a desire to win this season. Phoenix is also under the cap, so they could have taken on more money than they would give up and save Memphis money on top of a first-round pick. This is the only scenario that seemed likely to entice the Grizzlies, and it still couldn’t get Memphis to budge on Randolph.
This time around, I honestly believe the Grizzlies had no intention of trading Randolph. Memphis has had a recent surge up the Western Conference playoff standings with Gasol back from a knee injury. Well, until Mike Conley sprained his ankle causing him to miss the past four games. The Grizzlies traded for Courtney Lee in December, and traded for Kosta Koufos this past summer; they have money committed to too many players, and too much talent other than Randolph to be bad enough to get in the top half of the lottery, and you don’t give up on Randolph unless you are getting a top pick in return.
Another reason why Memphis was never serious about moving Randolph this season is because he means more to the Grizzlies than any other franchise. There are few other bigs that would fit as perfectly with Gasol as Randolph does. And once you factor in the riot it would cause outside of the FedEx Forum if Randolph was ever traded, it was a no-brainer for Memphis to keep him. The Grizzlies would not receive an offer from any team that would replace Randolph’s 17.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, and with the Grizzlies already playing a 10-man rotation, trading Randolph for two or more players wouldn’t work either. The Phoenix scenario of a first-round pick and cap relief is the only trade possibility that would have made sense.
Memphis’ plan this entire time was to hold onto Randolph and make a run with the guys they have. Even though the Grizzlies have been the most active trade partner in the NBA since the new ownership group took over at the beginning of last season, they never had plans of letting Randolph walk just to save money. This group wants to win, and losing Randolph does not help that cause.
With Randolph now in the fold for the foreseeable future in Memphis, and the ownership’s itchy trade-finger, the question remains, what will be the next move for Memphis?