Although it’s common knowledge that Zach Randolph is determined to re-sign with the Memphis Grizzlies, it will ultimately come down to whether or not the organization feels the same way about Randolph. He has been on record that he is willing to take a Tim Duncan-like pay cut to stay with the team, but time will only tell if that is enough for the Grizzlies to bring back the big man.
Although Randolph has the full support of his teammates, the team’s success with him off the court this post-season is worth noting. Yes, the Grizzlies offense is based around having two dominant big men and running the offense from the inside out. But is Randolph still the right guy to play alongside Marc Gasol? With speculation of a potential reunion with Marc and his brother Pau Gasol (which would terrify the entire Western Conference), Randolph may be on the way out.
If Randolph is forced to look elsewhere for playing time, he will presumably look to join a contender that is one piece away from a championship run. Enter the Chicago Bulls. With Carlos Boozer most likely on the way out, and with no guarantee that Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love will be coming to Chicago, Randolph could be a nice addition to a frontcourt rotation that needs depth and scoring. Coach Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls would welcome his toughness and tenacity on the block.
The only major foreseeable issue with Randolph joining the Bulls would be the effect it would have on future plans for Taj Gibson. The heir apparent to Boozer’s starting role, Gibson would likely have to take a back seat to Randolph at the four spot. However, is there anyone who doubts that Gibson could play at the three spot for stints during a game? He has the athleticism and skill to play out on the wing, and would give the Bulls even more length defensively. I’m not saying that Gibson should adapt his game to becoming more of a wing type player, but I believe that Joakim Noah, Randolph and Gibson could be a successful threesome on the court together for stints during games against a number of teams and lineups.
The other option would be to trade Gibson, but his current contract makes him a hard sell to any team, regardless of how high his ceiling is.
Overall, Randolph could be a key addition to any team if he and the Grizzlies cannot come to an agreement on a new contract. The front office/coaching situation in Memphis has been in turmoil over the past couple of seasons and doesn’t look to improve much this offseason. If Randolph is forced to look for greener pastures, the Bulls could be in a good position to grab the two-time All-Star: most likely at a discount price.