NBA free agency begins July 1. Until then, you’re going to see free agent profiles from all over the league. Where will the most notable names land? Why will they land there? For all the profiles we’ve already covered, click here.
Would anyone in Memphis blame Zach Randolph or Tony Allen if they ditched them for a contender? They have to know the Grizzlies will not win a championship in the near future. Both have given the city years and years of dedicated service. Both deserve the freedom to end their careers as they see fit.
That’s an important distinction. I think, to some players, there are things more important than winning.
Imagine being Zach Randolph. You’ve been run out of three of the most traditional basketball cities in the country—Portland, New York and Los Angeles—largely based on their failure to properly integrate you within their team’s structure. Then you wind up in Memphis and are completely embraced by a city with no basketball heritage whatsoever. You get to build that culture from the ground up and see fans learn to appreciate your game and the game in entirely new ways. You’ve spent literally half of your adult life in one city after spending the first half of that time in four over nine years.
Winning a championship would be nice. But would it mean as much as finishing your career in a city that has been that important to you?
And what about Tony Allen? He already has a championship ring, but he won it on a Boston team that refused to give him consistent minutes because they didn’t appreciate his specific gifts. They even gave him a derisive nickname, “Trick or Treat” Tony Allen, because of it. Then he goes to Memphis and is so beloved that he sheds the Trick or Treat moniker in favor of his preferred Grindfather. His role has been consistent. Nobody called for him to be traded after he cost the Grizzlies their 2015 series against Golden State and probably their best overall shot at a championship. You’ve spent part of your career in a city totally ready to discard you and the rest of it in a city that treats you as an infallible icon.
Why would being Cleveland’s 10th man be better for Tony Allen than seeing the Grit-N-Grind era through to the end? What does he need another championship for?
Teams will call for either of these guys. Both would be incredibly valuable role players on the right team and are honestly miscast in the roles they currently play for Memphis. And in basketball terms, Memphis might be better off without them. They still have two stars in or near their prime. They’ve already wasted a bunch of money on Chandler Parsons’ corpse. Do they want to risk similar fates on the back end of potential deals for Allen and Randolph, who are already in their mid-30s? If the Grizzlies truly wanted to maximize their potential on the basketball court, the best move might be jettisoning as much old money as possible and revamping the team in free agency.
But some things are bigger than basketball. These Grizzlies deserve every chance to finish what they started. Allen and Randolph deserve golden parachute contracts for the basketball culture they established in a city that previously had none. They may never win the city the ring they came close to so many times, but ask any citizen of Utah how they feel about John Stockton and Karl Malone and you’ll understand why the Grizzlies should keep this team together to the end.
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