On Wednesday, CBS Sports' Matt Moore commented on the widespread speculation that the Memphis Grizzlies' recent decision to trade Rudy Gay will mean an eventual dealing of Zach Randolph. Moore himself came out against the notion:
Trading Randolph ... would be disastrous. You might as well liquidate the entire team in that scenario. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley aren't going to enjoy going back to a lottery team after starting the year with the best record in franchise history.
Like Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph's reputation is a little larger than his recent production. Unlike Rudy Gay, Z-Bo's recent production in Memphis has been helpful.
In a vacuum, I disagree with Moore on this issue. While I acknowledge that there are locker room and team culture concerns, I do see the wisdom in parting with Z-Bo.
Randolph is owed more than $16 million this season and nearly $18 million next season. He's also 31 years old. Frankly, his contribution over these past two seasons, perhaps due to injury, hasn't warranted the money.
Z-Bo's lauded for his scoring instinct and post game, and to be sure, he was a monster in 2010-2011. Last season, though, his true shooting numbers dipped well below league average to 50 percent. This year, they're hardly impressive at 51.4 percent.
Randolph has continued to be an elite rebounder over that time, but his style of offense might stand in contrast with what Memphis will seek to do going forward. Perhaps more importantly, Z-Bo's style of offense might stand in contrast with what works in this league going forward.
The modern NBA is about creating space, mostly off pick-and-roll. Such a style requires ball-handlers and shooters, relegating post play to ancillary status.
Is is great to feature a player who can do work in the post? Sure, but I'm not sure you want to pay double-digit millions for the luxury.
The Memphis Grizzlies, right now, have the 23rd-best offense in basketball. Last year, they were tied for 20th on offense.
Defense carries this team and allows it to be above average. But with that lower-tier offense, the Grizz aren't winning a championship. Something must be done, and that something either means a change in strategy or a change in roster—possibly both.
Memphis has begun that process with the Rudy Gay trade. As part of the deal, the Grizzlies received Ed Davis, a young big who can sop up some of Zach Randolph's minutes if he's ever dealt.
To see the Grizzlies broken up is a bit painful, as they've been one of the quirkiest, most enjoyable teams of late. Let's just not forget that this team got bounced from the first round last year. Breaking up the Grizzlies is not analogous to breaking up the NBA version of The Beatles.
Marc Gasol and Mike Conley comprise a great duo to build around. Both are great defensive players and under 29 years of age.
Memphis can go places with new pieces around Gasol and Conley. One also suspects that the former might flourish in a spread-out, pick-and-roll system.
To get there, though, the Grizzlies must engage in a painful rebuilding process.