Zach Randolph Pushing for Contract Extension From Memphis
This contract extension is something he feels strongly about.
"I want to do it now,'' he told FanHouse Monday before his Grizzlies lost to the Magic, 89-72, in Orlando. "Sooner the better. If we don't do it now, there are a lot of other teams out there who like me.''
Randolph, now in his 10th NBA season, is in the final year of a contract paying him $17.3 million, lobbying for an extension before he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Randolph, 29, is coming off his first All-Star appearance, a reward for the consistency and improvement he has shown through the last several years. He is working on his fifth consecutive season of averaging a double-double (points and rebounds), trailing only Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard.
He was one of only three players (Chris Bosh and David Lee) to average at least 20.0 points and 10.0 rebounds last season. Only he and Bosh did it in back-to-back years. It was no coincidence, during the conversation, that he mentioned the contracts that Bosh and Lee, along with Carlos Boozer, received as free agents last summer.
The other three power forwards were rewarded with contracts ranging from four to six years, all in the $70 million range. He has designs on something similar. His scoring and rebounding numbers are comparable or better.
Unfortunately, he said there have been no recent discussions. The Grizzlies, the last time they talked, were thinking considerably less money, rumored to be in the three-year, $40 million range.
"I'd like to get it out of the way, but they (his agent and the Grizzlies) aren't really talking right now, at least not that I know of,'' he said. "And that's disappointing. I like playing for this team. I want to stay with this team. I'm a blue-collar player in a blue collar town, and it's a good fit. I'm in my prime, and we all know it's a business, too.''
Randolph learned about the business side of basketball early in his career during his six seasons in Portland, where he often played well but found himself in the news for his off-court activities. They included everything from possession of marijuana to illegal street racing to possession of an unregistered firearm, to punching a teammate in the face during practice.
Today he finds himself as the elder statesman on a budding young team in Memphis, helping to guide young guys like Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo and Marc Gasol, who all have bright futures in basketball.
"I was once young and foolish, but I've matured and grown into a better player. It's fun being around these young guys and helping them handle things,'' he said. "That's why I like it here with this group.''
Randolph was a big part in the improvement the Grizzlies made last season, going from 24 to 40 victories. He is expected to be a major contributor again, helping them to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Randolph had only nine points and nine rebounds in Monday's loss, but he remains their second leading scorer (16 ppg) behind Rudy Gay and their top rebounder (10.9 rpg). The knock against him, though, has always been his weak defense and his lack of lateral mobility.
"Making the All-Star Game meant a lot to me, although I always thought I should have made it before. To be on the same stage with LeBron, Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade, it was good for me. I think people look at me a little differently now,'' he said. "It took a long time for people to realize what I was doing.''
Randolph set or tied 16 franchise records last season, becoming only the second Memphis player to reach the All-Star Game. He became the first NBA player in two years to post multiple 30-point, 20-rebound games in the same season.
Despite a bad game Monday, he already has three 20-point, 10-rebound games this season. He had 23 points and 20 rebounds against Phoenix. Although Gay, Mayo and Conley obviously are the future of the Grizzlies, Randolph will be very much a part of any success they have now.
All of which makes him believe he should be rewarded with a contract extension -- soon.
"I'd like to get it done now,'' he said. "When summer comes, I'll be free with a lot of different options. I could help a lot of teams. Then anything could happen.''