The Memphis Grizzlies made a pretty odd move here in my opinion. From a basketball standpoint, adding a basket-filler like Zach Randolph in the front court makes sense, but, um, it’s Zach Randolph. Yes, he’ll be playing beside a defensive-minded guy in either Marc Gasol or Hasheem Thabeet, but, um, it’s Zach Randolph. Zach doesn’t play hard on the defensive end – he averages 0.3 blocks (psst, he’s not a point guard). Does Memphis really want this type of player as the veteran on their super-young squad? Watching Darko Milicic grow didn’t make more sense? In the cash-flow department, it’s not a large commitment because of Memphis’ extremely low team salary, but I just find it hard to picture any general manager envisioning Zach as the veteran leader of a franchise. Randolph joined WHBQ in Memphis to discuss how Michael Heisley has shown him some extra love, why he was surprised to be traded from the Knicks, and his reasons for making mistakes in the past.
Do you like the position of being an older player on a team, and is this the first time you’ve been forced in to a leadership role?
“I like that position but I had been in that position when I was in Portland, and when I was with the Clippers, carrying a team. So, I like the position, and the Clippers, they got the number one pick and they had to make the trade, but I like that position. I like carrying a team on my shoulders and we’ve got some guys that can carry the team, it ain’t just gotta be me. I got O.J., Rudy, Marc, so them guys can carry it too, and once we all together on the same page, it’s gonna be tough.”
You’ve had some issues in the past. Why did those things happen?
“Like I said, I was just young. That’s three or four years ago when I was in Portland; I didn’t really have a problem nowhere else, but, just young. Everybody been through something. I’m 28-years old, I got a family, and I’m just trying to change the chapter. Just win, and take this team, turn it around, be positive, and write a new page in my life.”
Did it surprise you when the Knicks or the Clippers traded you?
“With the Knicks, it was going good, I was doing good, I was kind of surprised. We had gotten off to one the best starts, even though the season just started, and I was playing good. And, to make a move like that for two years down the road with me and Jamal (Crawford), I was definitely kind of surprised. Yeah, I was.”
What makes you feel like Memphis will be a good fit for you?
“They’re embracing me like no other team had. I was traded to New York, I didn’t meet the owner, I got traded to LA, I didn’t meet the owner; I’m talking about once I first got to the city. I flew in in the morning, got in at like 8:30 in the morning, Mr. Heisley was on a flight from somewhere else at 8:30 in the morning just to come and meet me. Chris Wallace was there to pick me up, that meant a lot to me – embracing me, that makes a person feel like they’re wanted. I’ve never had that happen. When I first got off the plane, just made me think, this’ll be a good spot for me.”