Since it seems the popular thing for national basketball writers to do these days is openly lobby for NBA jobs they’ll never ever-ever-ever-ever-ever get, allow me to put in my bid:
I want to be Zach Randolph‘s agent.
Of course I don’t have any experience or a law degree. But if the most important function of an agent is to always work in his client’s best interest, I’ve at least been thinking like Zach’s agent for the last four years; ever since I adopted him as my favorite player in the League.
And for my first act as Z-Bo’s new agent, I’m going to make sure that when the Clippers inevitably try to trade him this summer — seeing as they’re locked in on Blake Griffin with their newfound No. 1 pick and will hand him the starting four spot — Zach lands in the right situation for him.
Production isn’t the issue. Everywhere Z-Bo goes, he’s gotten his numbers; he put up his standard 20.8 points and 10.1 boards this season. And while his teams generally haven’t been good (he’s a little Ricky Davis-ish in that way), it hasn’t necessarily been his fault: The Clippers were a sinking ship before Zach ever showed up. Same for the Knicks. And in Portland, Zach had to bridge the gap between the “Jail Blazers” and the rebuilding effort that yielded the current playoff team. And while he definitely hasn’t helped himself thanks to some dumb decisions here and there, Randolph’s reputation is actually worse than his track record.
Bottom line, somebody will be in the market for a 27-year-old who’s pretty much a lock for 20 and 10 a night, even with his $16 million salary-cap number next season. So which team suits Zach best? The candidates:
HAWKS — For Josh Smith ($10.8M) and Speedy Claxton ($5.2M). This is only if the Hawks take Charles Barkley‘s advice to unload Smith and fully hand the team over to Joe Johnson. Zach slides right in at the four next to Al Horford, and Atlanta gets the dependable post scorer they realized they needed in the playoffs. Ultimately, though, I don’t think the Hawks are ready to give up on Smith yet. And since he still doesn’t have a good enough jumper to play SF, the Clips would still have a PF glut with Smith and Griffin.
BULLS — For Brad Miller ($12.2M) and Jerome James ($6M). Chicago also gets Ricky Davis ($2.4M). ‘Rome and Ricky both have player-options; any doubt they’re gonna choose to cash in? It seems we’ve been saying “The Bulls need a low-post scorer” ever since Elton Brand left, and after letting LaMarcus, KG and Pau Gasol slip through their fingers when they were available, Z-Bo would finally fill that void. (Davis could be waived/bought out.) Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas will mask Zach’s defensive deficiencies, Z-Bo will own the offensive glass on a team that isn’t a great jump-shooting team (especially if they lose Ben Gordon), and he’ll immediately tack 2-3 assists onto Derrick Rose‘s average.
PACERS — For Mike Dunleavy Jr. ($9.7M) and Jamaal Tinsley ($7.2M). Indiana also gets Mike Taylor ($736,000). Seven months ago I proposed a deal to send Z-Bo back home to his native Indiana, but that was before Troy Murphy was reborn as “Commander Bong.” This one works better anyway. The Clips get a playmaking PG to put behind Baron, the Pacers finally rid themselves of the Tinsley situation, the Dunleavys are reunited, and Indiana gets an athletic PG in Taylor who’s a cheap upgrade over Travis Diener and could even make one of the Ford/Jack combo expendable if necessary. At the moment, Indiana’s best low-post scorer is Roy Hibbert. They need somebody with Zach’s skill set. Put him at PF and Murphy can play center, where he’d be a left-handed Mehmet Okur.
GRIZZLIES — For Darko Milicic ($7.5M), Marko Jaric ($7.1M) and Greg Buckner ($4M). Memphis also gets Ricky Davis. If L.A. isn’t worried about getting actual talent back for Z-Bo, this works. Marko likes the move because I’d imagine his supermodel wife spends more time in L.A. than Memphis, but that’s a lot of money for the Clips to commit to three centers (Camby, Kaman, Darko) when odds are maybe one of them makes it through the whole season. For Zach, he goes to another team that needs a scoring power forward, takes the pressure off Marc Gasol offensively, and helps Ricky Rubio get easy dimes.
NETS — For Bobby Simmons ($10.6M), Trenton Hassell ($4.3M) and Sean Williams ($1.6M). The Nets wouldn’t mind unloading any of these guys, especially Williams. The Clippers automatically improve defensively, and Zach goes somewhere he’s needed. He never got in trouble while he was in New York the first time, so the environment in Jersey doesn’t bother me.
KINGS — For Andres Nocioni ($7.5M) and Kenny Thomas ($8.5M). Everybody loved Noce at ARCO due to, you know, him actually playing hard, but Noce didn’t love it at ARCO so much. The Kings were banking on Blake Griffin, but getting a proven 20-10 PF wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize. Kevin Martin would certainly appreciate the help.
BUCKS — For Richard Jefferson ($14.2M) and Francisco Elson ($1.7M). This one makes the most sense for both teams. Jefferson is a vet who still has his athleticism, and the joy of being back in a real city will show in his play; RJ can start at the three while Al Thornton becomes an explosive sixth man in the J.R. Smith mold. It works for the Bucks, who roll out a front line of Andrew Bogut, Randolph and Charlie Villanueva, and it makes sense on the court and in the locker room for Zach, who becomes Milwaukee’s go-to interior scorer and hopefully benefits from the positive influence of a good guy like Michael Redd. Personally, though? Living in Milwaukee with all that free time? I’ll have to consult with my client.