What Does Zach Randolph Gain by Playing for His Memphis Grizzlies for Life?

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIApril 2, 2017

Nov 18, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) gets up close as he defends Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50) during first half action at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

Zach Randolph is playing his fifth Memphis Grizzlies season with a vengeance. Randolph's motivation may be directly aimed at a Grizzlies front office that may see him as expendable.

The 32-year-old told ESPN.com that he hopes to finish his career in Memphis. The two-time All-Star who has a player option for next season added that he would take a pay cut to stay, saying, "If I've got to make sacrifices to be here, I would. ... I've made all the money in the world."

Memphis has given some indication that it's willing to part with Randolph. Trade rumors have blown about the veteran power forward. ESPN.com reported that other teams' executives don't see him as untouchable.

Ed Davis is presumably being saved to replace him. However, Davis' chances of succeeding him are small. He's done little to earn the job and hasn't seen much playing time with Randolph healthy.

This gives Randolph the opportunity to fight for his future in Memphis, as long as his next contract allows the small-market franchise payroll flexibility.


Randolph is only regressing slowly

The 13-year veteran is losing some ability, but remains a good player.

His rebounding isn't as dominant as it had been during his past three full seasons, but he's still strong on the defensive glass.

He's slipping on the offensive glass, but not as much on the defensive end. His offensive rebounding rate is down four percent, while his defensive rebounding rate has dropped only one percent. He's pulling down 7.5 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes, just as last year.

He came back from turf toe by pulling down 12 rebounds against the Los Angeles Clippers.

He's a reasonable shooter with some range. At 47.8 percent, he's just above his career average. His attempts are almost evenly divided between the restricted area, the rest of the paint and mid-range, as seen in his NBA.com shot chart.

Randolph also has 10 double-doubles.

Randolph has been more involved in the offense than last year. He has a 25 percent usage rate, 1.9 percent higher than last year. He's taking 14.5 shots per 36 minutes, 0.4 more than last year.


No present alternative at the position

Trading Randolph is a difficult proposition when they don't have any prospects for replacing him. 

Davis isn't equipped to take the starting job. His rebounding is below Randolph's capacity. The former Toronto Raptor is averaging 9.9 rebounds per 36 minutes. Now, that figure was recently tugged by grabbing 20 rebounds in two games against opponents in the Phoenix Suns and Brooklyn Nets that lack aggressive starting big men.

He's not a strong guy. Andrew Ford of SheridanHoops.com said, "He can't even seem to gain weight well." Davis gets bullied inside by aggressive starting big men, as seen when Roy Hibbert sent back a layup of his.

His shooting is miserable for someone with his short range. Davis, who takes 62.8 percent of his shots in the restricted area, is hitting 52.8 percent from the field. He makes only 59.1 percent at the rim.

Dave Joerger isn't putting much faith in Davis. The 24-year-old is playing 15.3 minutes per game, including 13.1 per game when Randolph is healthy.

Davis, who is in his contract year, is also seen as a trade possibility. According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, several teams are interested in him.

As for other potential replacements, Jon Leuer, who shoots 45.7 percent from the field, doesn't have a future as a starter.

The Grizz won't abandon their chances for a low playoff seed in an effort to tank for a solid draftee like Aaron Gordon or Montrezl Harrell. Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Tony Allen would play too hard to let them fall into the league's bottom 10 in a season when several teams are tanking for the No. 1 pick.

With Conley scoring well enough to approach the top five at his position and Gasol expected to be strong enough when he returns, they'd win too many games. 



Randolph will regress incrementally beyond this season. If that sees him averaging 15 points and nine rebounds per game next season, he'd likely be more functional than Davis in a starting role.

As long as he doesn't exercise his option to make the "sacrifice" he said he would make in the above ESPN.com interview, he would allow the Grizz to sign a helpful player at either forward position. A $10 million-per-year deal would leave the Grizz more than seven figures under the luxury tax threshold.

His competition for a future playing next to Gasol isn't serious. Davis hasn't shown much promise.

With respectable play to this point, Randolph is earning his way toward finishing his career in the city he calls home.


Statistics are current through Dec. 5 games. Unless otherwise noted, advanced metrics come from basketball-reference.com.