By: Stephen Patterson
Zach Randolph has been one of the most important players on the Memphis Grizzlies young and improving roster over the past two seasons since he was acquired prior to the 2009-10 season. If the Grizzlies have any intention of continuing their improvement, they need to get his contract extended as soon as possible.
I think it's safe to say that Randolph has more than earned the right to get his extension done in a timely fashion. After he told Fanhouse on Monday that he wanted to get the deal done as soon as possible, it's time for Michael Heisley and Chris Wallace to figure out their offer and get this extension done and Randolph locked in for the future.
The team made the right decision by re-signing Rudy Gay in the offseason. While some feel they may have overpaid him to stay in Memphis, they need him on the team in order to stay competitive and to continue their growth towards an ever-nearing playoff run. By the same token, the team also needs to get Randolph's extension done and lock him in heading forward if they want to stay on that path.
Memphis previously made an offer that was reported to be in the range of three years, $40 million. While Randolph should clearly expect a decrease in pay after making $17.3 million this season, the Grizzlies should give him a slightly more reasonable offer considering his value to the team and the fact several other teams will definitely have interest if he were to hit the market.
An offer of three years, $45 million that is front-loaded with $16 million in the first season of the extension (2011-12) that decreases by $1 million over each of the final two years would be a decent start to negotiations.
That way, Randolph can still get paid like an All-Star while he continues to produce like one on the floor, and his deal would become slightly more manageable if the Grizzlies decided to move him in a trade towards the end of the deal.
While his numbers are slightly down this season compared to his first year with the Grizzlies, he is still averaging 16 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 2 assists per game this year. He is arguably the third best power forward in the Western Conference behind Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki, and if he can stay healthy and continue his solid all-around play, he will likely become a two-time All-Star this season.
Considering Heisley recently threw out money to keep Mike Conley Jr. in a Grizzlies uniform, he should feel obligated to do the same to get Randolph to stay moving forward as well. If Memphis can keep their starting core intact and improve their bench over the next couple of seasons, they could be a serious threat in a few years in the West.