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Grizzlies' Standoff With Xavier Henry Continues

Jul 25, 2010 – 3:30 PM
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Tom Ziller

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Xavier HenryXavier Henry, the Grizzlies' lottery pick who sat out the entirety of the Las Vegas Summer League due to a contract dispute with Memphis, still hasn't signed his rookie deal. As noted previously on FanHouse, the Grizzlies have refused to offer Henry the maximum amount allowed under league rules, which equates to a 2010-11 salary of $2 million, without Henry agreeing to tie $300,000 of that to performance bonuses. That's where the dispute lies -- Henry (represented by powerful Arn Tellem) thinks the incentive clauses are out of line and won't sign, and the Grizzlies won't concede to get a potentially valuable young talent into the program. Specific details of what Henry would have to do to meet the bonuses remain unknown.

Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace told FanHouse Sunday that the issue remains unresolved, but that Henry's camp has not requested a trade to a team who will pay him the $2 million guaranteed. Wallace declined to get into specifics regarding the proposed incentives, but noted that this is not unheard-of.

In fact, Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com reported last year that all but six 2009 first-round draft picks had performance bonuses included in their max rookie deals. Tellem had three 2009 first-round picks, and one of the three (Gerald Henderson, picked 12th by the Bobcats) reportedly had performance bonuses in his contract. This would lead one to assume Tellem isn't completely opposed to performance bonuses for rookie contracts, but is opposed to the incentive structure offered by the Grizzlies.

Memphis' two 2009 first-round picks -- Hasheem Thabeet and DeMarre Carroll -- signed max rookie-scale deals. Wallace told FanHouse using performance bonuses for rookie deals is an organizational "best practice" the Grizzlies are embracing.

Neither side appears to be backing down. The closer we get to the start of training camp in late September, the more worrisome this becomes for both parties. The Grizzlies sure don't want to start a potential run for the playoffs without a prized rookie, and Henry certainly doesn't need to start off his NBA career in street clothes. Without knowing the details of the bonuses offered by Memphis, it's difficult to discern who's wearing the black hat here.

But it's worth noting that only one team is having this problem right now.
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