Coming off an embarrassing defensive season, the Los Angeles Lakers will likely be on the lookout for a few players who can make heavy contributions on that end of the floor. Without an elite defender in the starting lineup, Los Angeles will never be able to reach championship status again. Therefore, a player of target must be none other than Memphis Grizzlies big man Zach Randolph.
An absolute bully inside, Randolph is well known around the league for his toughness as well as his outstanding efforts on both ends of the floor. Despite being a bit undersized at 6-foot-9, Randolph has never backed down from any matchup whether it be Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin or Tim Duncan. Not being afraid to put his body at risk is also something he has become famous for amongst the NBA community, especially in 2013 when he basically tackled Griffin to the floor.
Last season, the Lakers desperately missed that player who opposing teams dreaded going up against. Prior to his departure from L.A., Metta World Peace played that role, but he mistakenly fell victim to the amnesty clause. Therefore, Los Angeles must inquire about what it would take to draw Randolph’s threatening presence to the City of Angels.
Acquiring Z-Bo will not be as simple as signing him via free agency since he is expected to opt into the final year of his contract which pays him about $16.5 million. Obviously that particular figure is substantial and not something the Lakers would be willing to pay beyond next season. However, for one year Los Angeles should suck it up if given the opportunity to bring the big man to town. Any deal would of course require Pau Gasol to head back to the team with which he began his career, the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies have vastly evolved since Gasol departed nearly six years ago, most notably by developing Gasol’s brother, Marc Gasol, into a top player in the league. Memphis has turned its previously struggling franchise into a playoff team numerous years in a row now. Randolph has certainly played a vital role in Memphis’ recent success, but it may be time to ultimately part ways with him for a more offensive-minded player. The Grizzlies’ one downfall has been their inability to score down the stretch of games, so bringing in Pau Gasol makes perfect sense.
Playing alongside his little brother has been a long-lasting dream of his, but that’s unrealistic unless it is through a sign-and-trade. Memphis does not have sufficient cap space to draw Pau Gasol’s interest, making discussions between Los Angeles and Memphis a necessity. Who knows? If the elder Gasol makes it clear he absolutely wants to return to Memphis, the Lakers may have to trade him.