Grizzlies Reportedly Prioritizing Zach Randolph over Pau Gasol in Free Agency

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 23, 2014

Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem blocks Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Miami, Friday, March 21, 2014. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
J Pat Carter/Associated Press

The Memphis Grizzlies are playing as well as ever since Marc Gasol's Jan. 14 return from a knee injury, which is probably why they'll look to keep the current gang together when free agency rolls around.

That's unfortunate news for anyone dreaming of a Gasol brothers reunion.

Per Sam Amick of USA Today: "But a person with knowledge of the Grizzlies thinking said Randolph will be the focus of their free agency affection and that the interest they have in Pau Gasol would be secondary."

Zach Randolph has been in Memphis since the 2009-10 season, and his blue-collar attitude has long been a perfect symbol of the organization's prized "Grit 'n Grind" image. It also helps that Randolph is playing better than he has at any point in the past few years.

His averages of 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds are solid, and his PER currently sits at 18.0, the best number he's posted since the 2010-11 season. At 32, there's reason to believe Z-Bo's floor-bound game will continue to age nicely.

Pau Gasol will be a free agent this summer, though, and a potential return to his first NBA franchise is an enticing thought. In fact, he even discussed the chance of a return to Memphis this past December, via Scott Howard-Cooper of"It’s appealing. One of the best centers in the NBA, one of the best interior players, is my brother. There’s a lot of attractive factors there. But who knows if that’s even a possibility or if that will ever happen."

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Now, it seems the Grizzlies are committed to keeping their core together rather than adding to it from the outside. Given their 24-9 record since Jan. 14, it's hard to fault them for that stance.

But it's even harder to brush past how much fun the Gasol brothers could be in tandem. Imagine the high-post passing clinic they'd put on as teammates. There'd be a record number of affectionate head pats, and you'd better believe that a dual-Gasol Grizzlies attack would set an NBA record for overly dramatic screams when trying to draw fouls.

It'd be great, wouldn't it?

Memphis' plans could change if Randolph offers up another playoff disappearance or if the team bows out of the postseason without putting up a fight. For now, though, it seems the Grizzlies are committed to observing a strict "one Gasol" limit.