With apologies to the esteemed Justin Rogers at mlive, this is the “most confusing trade rumor you’ll read this week: SI.com initially reported that the Memphis Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph was disgruntled at not being offered a contract extension prior to the start of the season. Z-Bo, a former MSU Spartan, is in the final year of his contract, making $17.6 million.
SI.com went on to report that the Detroit Pistons top Randolph’s list of potential landing spots as he is not in the Grizzlies’ plans following big contracts to Rudy Gay and Mike Conley and an impending big-money payout to Marc Gasol. Memphis has denied SI’s account.
Instantly this rumor doesn’t pass the smell test. We’ll get to those reasons in a moment, but first lets point out that Detroit Pistons beat writer, and a good one at that, allowed himself to get caught up in the baseless, idle speculation vortex. The Detroit News’ Vincent Goodwill took the initial SI.com report and ran with it. I guess it was just too alluring — dominant offensive big man, former Spartan, deadline for a column, knowledge that people will get a lot of clicks.
But instead of batting it down or just ignoring it, he decided to treat a simple writeup that was probably given five minutes of effort at SI.com as if it were worth serious debate. Instead of outlining why it makes virtually zero sense, he fanned the flames and breathlessly stated that Randolph could be “in the Pistons’ sights.”
Yes, he adds the necessary caveat that no conversations between the teams have taken place, but he also spends time breathing life into the bogus rumor by touting Randolph’s fit on the Pistons (true), their flirtations with problem children in the past (Rasheed Wallace trade and interest in DeMarcus Cousins), and his potential to provide cap savings to the team (immaterial).
Let’s unpack this. If the precursor to dealing Randolph is the fact that Memphis doesn’t have money to spend on him after this season then quite obviously they wouldn’t be looking to take back salary in a trade. So that eliminates shipping off Richard Hamilton, Jason Maxiell, Will Bynum, etc. etc.
Second, if you accept the fact that the deal would basically be expiring contract for expiring contracts (Randolph for Tayshaun Prince and Chris Wilcox) then the potential cap savings to the Pistons are moot.
Third, if you take the time to look at the Grizzlies’ needs, you see that their biggest strength is at small forward with Rudy Gay, Sam Young and rookie Xavier Henry. Unfortunately, the Grizzlies do have needs where the Pistons have strengths (who would you rather have as your backup PG, Will Bynum or Acie Law; SG Hamilton/Ben Gordon or Tony Allen; backup center Greg Monroe/Jason Maxiell or Hasheem Thabeet?), but if the main impetus for a trade were Memphis’ financial constraints, the Pistons have nothing to offer.
Fourth, besides the aforementioned Gasol, the Grizzlies’ big man depth consists of Darrell Arthur and Hasheem Thabeet, who is playing only 11 minutes per game, has a PER of 2.63 and Hamed Haddadi. It is quite apparent that Memphis can’t really afford to lose a player such as Randolph.
While I would love to have Randolph on this team (his defensive shortcomings would fit in quite nicely), there is no conceivable way to make that happen.