Grizzlies Owner Defends Zach Randolph
Asked if there could be a trade involving Randolph, Heisley said in an interview with FanHouse on Thursday that "we are not interested and we have not been looking'' in that direction.
In fact, Heisley said there are no plans to break up the starting lineup of Randolph, center Marc Gasol, guards O.J. Mayo and Mike Conley and forward Rudy Gay, who certainly won't be going anywhere now that he has agreed to re-sign for $82 million over five years.
"We feel very confident going into next year because we'll have our five guys back,'' Heisley said.
Other than Gay possibly having bolted as a restricted free agent, the only other serious concern having surrounded the starting lineup has been the future of Randolph.
Randolph, an All-Star for the first time last season when he averaged 20.8 points, was implicated in May in an Indianapolis drug investigation. According to a probable cause affidavit, a vehicle driven by a man who left a suspected drug house was registered to Randolph, and police found marijuana and ammunition stowed inside hidden compartments.
Later, police said they raided an Indianapolis storage facility, where they said Randolph rents four lockers. The affidavit said police K-9 found controlled substances in two of the four units, and police found more cars with secret compartments.
Randolph has not been charged with anything. And Heisley, who said he's talked with Randolph "three or four times this summer,'' stands by him.
"My take on the situation is that Zach, as far as I know, has done nothing wrong,'' Heisley said. "And, quite frankly, he doesn't have any problems with anybody (with the Grizzlies). There are some people that Zach knows and has been associated with in the past, and I don't know what that relationship is. But, quite frankly, we feel that Zach is conducting himself in an appropriate manner.
"I'd like to say he wasn't in the newspapers. But he is and, let's face it, that is a negative. But it isn't a negative as much for us as it is for some people. We feel that Zach is a good guy. He's well liked in Memphis. And, quite frankly, since he's been with us (since a June 2009 trade from the Clippers), he's been nothing but cooperative and nothing but a model citizen.''
Still, Heisley said Randolph, who had a number of legal problems before he arrived in Memphis, has "got to learn'' that situations such as what happened in May do "impact his image and so on.''
Randolph, who did not return a message Thursday seeking comment, told FanHouse in April he would like to sign an extension this summer similar to the three-year, $57 million one Lakers center Pau Gasol inked last December. Randolph will make $17.33 million next season in the final year of his contract.
Heisley, who told FanHouse in April he would talk to Randolph this summer about an extension, declined comment Thursday on whether anything has changed in how he might look at that. But Heisley stressed the Grizzlies have not looked to trade Randolph, saying there was nothing to an ESPN.com report last week in which Al Jefferson possibly would have gone from Minnesota to the Grizzlies for Randolph.
"From Memphis' point of view, there wasn't any truth to it,'' Heisley said. "As far as I know, we never talked to Minnesota about it and then the last guy that's got to approve (a) trade is me. Al Jefferson is a great guy. He's a great player. But we love Zach Randolph, and he had a great year last year. And, quite frankly, these (trade) rumors, all it does is somewhat impact the relationships you have with your players. So that bothers me. It really does. Because you spend half your time fighting these rumors.''
The 6-foot-9 Randolph, who averaged a career-high 11.7 rebounds, is coming off the best season of his nine-year career. And there's a reason Heisley believes next season could be even better.
"Zach has been in with our trainers on the West Coast,'' Heisley said. "We started almost a month ago working out. He's in great shape. He's probably in better shape than he was last year at this time. And he came in, quite frankly, well under his normal weight, coming in in the summer I think 30-some pounds (less). So we feel that Zach is in good shape.''
Despite Randolph's name being linked to legal troubles, Heisley believes all is ship shape these days with Randolph.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomason