Undoubtedly one of the biggest priorities for the Grizzlies this off-season is figuring out what will happen with Zach Randolph.
Z-Bo has until June 30th to decide if he wants to exercise his $16.5 million player option. Odds are he is going to want to find a longer term deal where he would presumably take less money. The Grizz sound open to the idea, as word is that Pera would like to re-sign Randolph as soon as possible. This would help give some much needed stability to the organization after the Joerger situation. It would also make the direction the Grizzlies want to go this offseason much clearer.
Without Randolph, the Grizz lose a number of things. One being the face of the franchise. Ever since his arrival in Memphis, he has changed his image from troublesome headcase to model citizen. Has he had his slip ups? Of course. Even so, Z-Bo has been a constant for the past five years. He has embodied the “Grit and Grind” mentality of the team, while turning a struggling franchise into a consistent playoff contender. The team would be losing an on the court leader as well as a statistical leader.
Although his numbers took a dip in ’12-’13, Randolph came back strong this year to post 17 points and 10 boards, his best since the ’10-’11 season. As he ages, his numbers will almost certainly begin to decline, but what he brings to the team even transcends his statistical output. His size and ability to shoot from mid-range are key elements that make him so versatile at PF.
All that considered, the Grizzlies have two options: Re-sign Z-Bo or let him walk.
If they let him walk, then there is a gaping hole to fill at the four spot. A frequent name that gets tossed around is former Grizzly, Pau Gasol. I think that Pau could bring a lot to the team, and actually be a pretty good fit, but you also have to consider what you are losing by not having Randolph.
Option B: The team re-signs Z-Bo. This allows them to continue to build around the core of Conley, Marc Gasol and Randolph. Finding an upgrade at small forward as well as signing some perimeter shooters could make the Grizzlies extremely dangerous. I feel that this is the more likely of the two options, but anything can happen.
Ultimately, it would appear that bringing back Z-Bo is essential for the Grizzlies future. With fewer injuries, this year’s team might have gone deeper into the playoffs, so keeping the core together and bringing back Randolph seems to make a lot of sense.
I personally love Z-Bo, so maybe I’m biased, but I think letting him leave would be a big mistake. At this point he is not only their best option, but he would bring much needed stability to an organization that is in dire need of consistency.