June 28, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; A general view of the stage before the 2012 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Last Call: Time to figure out the Grizzlies' draft

The Grizzlies draft situation just got (even more) complicated

Alright Pera and co.  We get it.  You are trying to make it as difficult as humanly possible to figure this draft out.  Will Memphis trade up?  Will they trade down?  Will they take a small forward? Power forward?  Backup point guard?

The questions go on and on.  The reason that the draft just got further complicated for the Grizzlies is due to a contractual issue.  That of course is the differing opinions between the Grizzlies front office and Zach Randolph‘s camp.  Z-Bo wants a four year deal at a reduced cost, but Robert Pera and Chris Wallace have set three years as their limit.  This might seem trivial when it comes down to re-signing the face of your franchise, but at this point I’m not blown away that it has come to this.

I was very optimistic about the Grizzlies being able to keep Z-Bo in town, but that thought is quickly fading away.  The reason that I’m not totally shocked about this current situation is due to the way the front office has been as of late.  Robert Pera has done some great things which included keeping the Grizzlies in Memphis for at least 15 years upon his arrival.  Recently though, with all the front office turmoil, things seem to be a little unsteady.  I also think that Pera is a bit stubborn and it’s really his way or the highway.  If this wasn’t the case, I’m pretty confident that Chris Wallace would have Randolph locked up by now.

But here we are.  We have no idea whether or not the face of the franchise will be with the team next year, and we have to make a first round pick in the draft tomorrow.  There are two ways the Grizzlies can go with the pick:  Trade it or keep it.  I think that whether or not they trade the pick comes down to whether or not Z-Bo is back.  If they are confident that they can bring him back, it would probably be best to hang onto the pick and grab a prospect.  If they aren’t sure if he will re-sign then it might ultimately be a better option to shop the pick.

If for whatever reason Memphis feels that they can figure out the Z-Bo situation before the draft then they ought to draft a young player to help on offense.  In this situation your core is still intact and you have a strongly established leader in Randolph back on the squad.  The rookie would be able to learn from this group of guys who have been together for a considerable amount of time, which would make his transition much easier.  This would probably be the ideal way for things to fall into place, but at this juncture it doesn’t seem likely.

The other option is for the Grizzlies to send the pick elsewhere.  Without Z-Bo, Memphis has no secure option at power forward.  Ed Davis is a restricted free agent, and although he can be brought back with a qualifying offer, he probably won’t be the Grizzlies future at the position (although he has the potential to be).  Pau Gasol is available should Randolph not come back, but he has numerous other suitors.  Having Marc Gasol on the roster is an incentive for his return to Memphis, which is also the team where he began his hall of fame career.  Sending the pick away could help the Grizz find a veteran to fill in at the power forward slot.  I think it’s imperative for Memphis to have a vet replace Z-Bo so that they can continue to be a contender with this current roster.

This is a major juncture for the Grizzlies franchise, and whether or not the team is able to bring back Z-Bo will ultimately decide the direction they go in the future.  I personally hope for a Z-Bo return, but if he doesn’t Memphis has a lot of work to do in order to maintain the strength of this current squad.  Whether or not Randolph’s situation is resolved by tomorrow, we will find out what the Grizzlies will do with the 22nd pick in the draft.  Be sure to tune in at 6pm Eastern, it’s sure to be a wild ride.


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