NBA / Sep 28, 2010 / 12:45 pm

Zach Randolph wants Pau Gasol money. And he should get it.

Zach Randolph (photo. Nike)

Zach Randolph (photo. Nike)

In the name of journalistic objectivity, I probably shouldn’t even be writing about Zach Randolph. I’ve made it pretty clear in this space that Z-Bo might be my favorite player in the NBA, to the point where I’ll engineer trade scenarios to get him on my favorite team, and lead campaigns to get him into the All-Star Game. (Which finally worked in 2010.)

So when I read reports that Zach has gone into Memphis Grizzlies training camp with a specific, big-time monetary goal in mind, my instinct was to defend him. And even after gauging the numbers, my instinct is pointing me in the right direction.

Z-Bo wants a contract extension. He’s entering the final year of a deal that will pay him $17.3 million this season, and after making the All-Star Game and leading the Grizzlies to a resurgent 40-win campaign in his first run with the team, Z-Bo wants to tack another three years and $65 million onto his earnings. That’s the same structured deal Pau Gasol signed with the L.A. Lakers last year, and the same offer Carmelo Anthony is letting sit on the table from the Denver Nuggets.

If the Grizzlies want to continue their upward climb and hold onto the pipe dream of being contenders, they need to pay Zach.

What has every NBA fan learned while watching the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs and Heat win the last six league championships? You need to be strong in the paint to win. Z-Bo is Memphis’ anchor on the front line. Last season he put up 20.8 points and 11.7 rebounds per game — David Lee was the only other player in the League to match those numbers — and led the League in offensive rebounding. Numbers sometimes lie, but they can’t front on the fact that Randolph is one of the most effective low-post players in the NBA.

“We respect Zach a lot as a player,” Rudy Gay said at Grizzlies’ media day on Monday. “He’s a part of our future.”

It’s not like the Grizzlies won’t spend money to win. They just signed Gay to an $84 million contract over the summer to lock up their franchise cornerstone. But if Gay is going to lead Memphis deep into the playoffs anytime soon, he needs a frontcourt stud, just like Kobe Bryant needs Pau Gasol, just like Dwyane Wade and LeBron James need Chris Bosh.

“Zach is the man. Zach is carrying a lot of weight for this team,” starting PG Mike Conley told reporters. “He competes, and everybody feeds off that. You look at him and say, ‘Man, he’s working hard.’ You definitely want to follow him.”

Two things would make a Z-Bo critic scoff at the idea of paying him like a superstar: (1) He’s supposedly a troublemaker, and (2) He’s 29 years old.

To which I’d say, (1) Zach hasn’t gotten into any trouble since joining the Grizzlies, and beyond the DUI he caught with the Clippers, has been on good behavior even while living in temptation-filled cities like L.A. and New York. And (2) age isn’t as important for a player of Z-Bo’s abilities. He’s not a high-flying wing who relies on athleticism and speed. With his style, he can drop 20-and-10 lines well into his 30s, similar to Tim Duncan. Besides, Pau Gasol is 30 years old. D-Wade is 28. Both of them just signed big-money contracts to keep them with their current teams long-term.

Another point of contention is that the Grizzlies should save room to re-sign Marc Gasol, their starting center who averaged 14.6 points and 9.3 boards last year. Gasol is younger (25), taller (7-foot-1), and doesn’t have a red-flag record like Zach. But the simple fact is that he’s not as good of a player as Z-Bo, and not as valuable to the Grizzlies as his frontcourt mate.

Basketball is a results business. No matter your perception of Zach Randolph as a person or as a player, the bottom line is that he produces results. He’s Mr. GSD (Get S*** Done). Now the Grizzlies need to GSD and take care of their most valuable player.

What do you think? Is Zach Randolph worth $65 million over three years?

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  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    AB, me and you are on opposite ends of the spectrum haha

  • Izzy

    I call shenanigans… Z-Bo is not worth the money. Once, and if he gets his contract, watch him go back to not playing hard and being his lazy ass self again.

    “But the simple fact is that he’s not as good of a player as Z-Bo, and not as valuable to the Grizzlies as his frontcourt mate.” – What shit are you talking here? Gasol is a center, and a pretty good one. One that can actually play a little D. If you think hes less important to the long term plans of the grizzlies, you got another thing coming.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    Never. You make some good points, but franchise money? If you’re honest with yourself, Austin, you wouldn’t put Randolph into the top tier of players, and maybe not even the second. Talent-wise, second tier MAYBE.

  • KL

    Grizz overpaid Gay. If only Gay had taken less, setting up Zach and Marc to take a little less as well, Grizz would be in good shape.

  • Nizzio

    Dude wants to make over 20 million a year? David Lee is a better player and he makes 13 right now. And the Grizzlies have other players they need to invest on other than fucking Randolph. He has one good season and y’all are thinking he’s the shit. He’s in for a paycut

  • The Other Aj

    They have already overpaid Rudy Gay, If they overpay Z-bo, they will be stuck in couple of years

  • Clement

    Yea, I am going to have to say that while Z-Bo, or StatBo, GSD, he is as notorious as they say. Being a Blazer fan and watching/reading the entire “Is Zach a max contract player” thing go down 6 years ago [damn], I have resigned to the fact that he isn’t and in no way should get paid like a max dude. He is nice on the offensive end of the floor and produces like he was from the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia, but he does so at the cost of a moving offense (used to be a black hole, he has gotten a bit better I’ll admit) and plays sieve-like defense. He’ll give up about as many as he’ll score, and in a contract year, Zach will score and rebound a ton (some GM fool with overpay, smh).

    And then I still worry about his character and people he hangs around with. You mention that he has been a good guy since his time in Memphis, but fail to mention his link to a marijuana distribution ring in which he purportedly gave money/vehicles and houses to store this enterprise. Granted I haven’t heard or read anything since the report date earlier this year, I worry big time if I am going to invest money in this man. So, to answer your question, I don’t think he is Pau money-worthy.

  • Eric

    Agreed, Z-Bo is nice but I think he’s more in the $10-$!5 million range on an annual basis.
    He plays very little D, so whatever team that signs him for his offense is going to need a defense dynamo ala dwight howard to cover up for his mistakes.

  • JA

    ZBo makes 12th most in the League right now, which is a joke.

    If the Grizz are going to spend the money to try to lock up a big long term, they should try to overpay to steal Horford.

  • The Journeyman

    @ Austin,

    I love coming on here, but I still do not understand what the hype is over Zach Randolph.

    It saddens me that you are so fixated on him. All I remember him was for his Portland days and I just felt like he was/is a nobody.

    Like if he was out the league, I don’t think anyone would care/notice. That’s probably why I don’t understand the 1 man campaign as to why he is worth all the money, attention and time invested.

    Let him go and jump on the bandwagon of like a K.Durant or Kobe’s 3rd 3peat.

    NOT Zach “Nobody” Randolph

    I still love you AB, please dont kick me out, I just think this guy isn’t worth the trouble of claiming as anyone’s #1 player. :)

  • dmitry of jersey

    Mike Conley: “Zach is carrying a lot of weight for this team”

    Literally and figuratively…

  • JAY

    It’s nice to see the honesty in the article, with Burton basically admitting that he’s got a court-crush on Z-Bo. Lol.
    To me, there’s no doubt Z-Bo will have a monster year… It’s his contract year. He deserves a big cheque but not Pau or Melo money.

    @Nizzio: David Lee is not a better player, are you kidding?
    “One good season”??? Really?? He’s been a 20-10 guy since his early Portland days. How do you figure he’s only had 1 good season? Last year wasn’t even his best season. Lol. He can’t defend a rolling can of Coke but he’s buckets inside. Kinda like Al Jefferson.

    What’s Jefferson making?? That’s the type of money Randolph deserves.

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    I like Zach Randolph’s game but that’s a steep price tag for his services. Other than a few baskets and rebounds a game, how exactly is Z-Bo that much better than Gasol?

    At 25, Randolph was averaging 18 and 8. Gasol (at nearly 15 points and 10 rbs could conceivably match that production in the near future for much less.

    If I’m the Grizzlies I make Z-Bo a fair offer of $10-13 mil/yr and save some space to keep Gasol.

  • Joe’s Momma

    You forgot 1 thing the critics say about Z-Bo

    3) He puts up stats and not wins

    I agree that dude puts up crazy #’s, but he is not going to take you to the playoffs. 40 wins won’t get Memphis in the playoffs, they need to get at least 50. Will Z-Bo help get Memphis 50 wins? I say he won’t.

    His 1 year in Memphis and he acts like an angel, does that mean he has changed? Let him touch free agency and see what team, if any, gives Randolph any deal that touches 10 mil per. So giving him 3 yrs 65 mil is kind of a dumb move.

    Memphis should do with Randolph what they should have done with Gay, let a team offer something, then match.

    Who on earth would have offered Gay 80 mil? Then Memphis turns around and try to stick it to your rookies for an extra 300k? Smart business moves

  • Slips

    Simply put, answer me this: who’s to say that Randolph won’t go back to his typical selfish play after signing a new contract? Last season was the 1st year in his 9 year career that he bought into a team concept. Good for him, but I’m not trusting that he keeps to that, and I certainly wouldn’t give him a contract worth anything more than he’s making right now.

  • Claw

    You have to call him ZBo because you’d have to spell his last name “Ranolph” since there is nothing about his game that deserves a “D” in it. Gasol can guard the post and does well on pick and rolls, ZBo can eat a roll but that’s about it.

  • nowwhatyo

    if rudy gay is your franchise player, then you can’t pay zach more than what rudy is making.

  • Shot In Your Face

    I stopped reading this article after he wants the same amount of money as Pau Gasol and Melo.

    LMAO good one!

  • shuttles

    Yeah this is a joke, right? Z-Bo is a decent player but he’s nowhere close to Gasol. Come on, man. It’s not even close. He’s a career 47% shooting big man who doesn’t play defense. And he has had motivation and attitude problems in the past.

  • Ian

    lol gtfoh gasol is a top 3 pf and top 4 big man in the nba. randolph is just randolph.

  • Flip
  • spit hot fiyah

    that picture is crazy

  • Sporty-j

    lmaol… Is this some kind of a joke? I wouldnt pay him no more than 7-8 mil a year and Gasol is WAYYY more important to Memphis than Zach is as far as futuer goes. On another note they might as well pay him max since they payed Rudy Gay max and will not be going anywhere for the next 10 years. And what is this thing with people saying Gay and guys like Joe Johnson should have taken less MONEY??? No 1 was thinking about taking less money until the BIG 3 took less. I guess everybody should now follow the leader Lebron, take less money, and join super teams. Now Owners and fans will expect players to do the same thing and sacrifice but everybody does not care about winning ships and its all about the BENJAMINS BABY. Sorry Zach but the Big 3 messed it up for you and a lot of folks fellas and teams will cut back on handing out big contracts when they know good and well like the timberwolves that they are going absolutely nowhere anytim soon and in the next Decade unless they signed there own BIG 3 which is the new standards set today if you want to have a chance of competing with the top dogs of the league…

  • Larry

    Haha he’ll no he is not worth pau money

  • 12th Man

    He only gets that kind of money if he’s allowed to use and carry the sword in that picture on court.

  • MattaM

    Im a Grizz fan, live in Memphis and I follow the team about as closely as you can for not being media. I love that we went and got ZBo, but to pay him $65 over 3 years is not something a small market team can do. $45 million over 3 is great, maybe even $50 at the most, but we have to address signing Marc Gasol and OJ Mayo soon. Those players are going to want money too and they will all have to take less for them to get more if we are to keep our “core” together. In the article you compare ZBo’s numbers to David Lee. Statistically that is fair, but let’s keep the $$$$ comparatively to Lee’s too. He signed a 6 year $80 million contract, roughly $13 million a year. Now that is bulls eye contract for a small market team.

  • me

    obviously written by a fan. no one else would make this argument. zbo making carmelo-lebron money? WTF?

  • TD

    Has he ever made the playoffs, he’s been in the league for almost 10 years, and the Grizz won’t be making it again this year.

    This is just terrible. Do you really think the current grizz squad should be paying luxury, cuz they’re headed that way if they resign Z-bo to 14+ mil a year. Gasol and Mayo are gonna want to get paid too.

  • jryu


    HAHAHAHA, before i even clicked the link i had a good idea what “highlight” it would be. glad you didn’t disappoint.

  • George W Kush Sr

    I love Z-BO, mainly because everybody hates him and he stays producing like a workhorse.

    But $65 Million is WAYYYYYY to much. I’d offer him like $14M per season over 3 years at the very most. Over $20M is kinda stupid, he’s not a first tier superstar. He’s sick, he’s an All-Star, but he’s not worth 65 over 3 years…

  • WinDelRoj

    Pau Gasol is better than ZBo. So while ZBo deserves to be paid, he doesnt deserve that kind of money.

  • Stunnaboy09

    Hmm, so I guess Monta Ellis should be “demanding” 18 mil a year cuz he put up 25 ppg huh?

    They signed Gay to the max contract. That was them saying this is our franchise guy, and from what I know franchises guys get payed the most. Your saying saying Z-Bo should earn more than DIRK. HELL NO

    12-15 Mil a year is good enough for me, if he doesn’t like it tell him to GTFO and then start grooming Thabeet (remember him?)

    Mark Gasol to me is a better franchise piece than Z-Bo, 25, 7’1 a banger with a soft touch, AMAZING defender (might be top 5 best defensive C)with a nice post game, decent jumper and good passing. Pay Marc something like 45mil/5 years and develop the Grizzlies with a Mayo/Gay/Gasol core.

    If he gets the 20 mil a year just wait till OJ Mayo enters free agency… lol

  • KN

    This guy is smoking, never ever utter Z-Bo and Gasol in the same breath, are you serious when he is helping win championships then have him demand franchise money….4 yr 50 million contract for him is worth it that’s it!!!

  • control

    Fat fucking Zach Randolph: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh2fn01cngg

    This guy is a LOSER, one of the biggest losers in the nba by far. He doesn’t add anything to the team, and you can make the argument that stats don’t mean shit, solely because of this guy.

    As far as basketball skills, how is this guy special in anyway? He’s stupid, slow, lazy and as unathletic as they come. He thinks he’s a 3 point shooter, but he’s probably one of the worst 3 point shooters in the league. This guy is basically Antione Walker, but isn’t allergic to the paint.

    I believe all of the allegations against this guy about running a drug ring, because he’s obviously completely abusing his own product if he thinks he’s worth 20mil/year. This fucking idiot shouldn’t even be getting 14mil/year.

  • ballin

    “I believe all of the allegations against this guy about running a drug ring, because he’s obviously completely abusing his own product if he thinks he’s worth 20mil/year. This fucking idiot shouldn’t even be getting 14mil/year.”


  • jzsmoove

    noooo way!! i would pay Marc Gasol more money than Z. and i aint even paying Gasol more than $10 per.

    AB, you sure you got away scathe-free from Randy foye’s hood when you accidentally dinged his Benz door bruh? I’m beginning to wonder ever since, i think your mug got dinged a lil bit by Foye’s boys on your way out of town?

  • control

    Hahah, that youtube link I posted was already posted, I didn’t even read all the comments because I was on my phone, taking a shit and wanted to type that shit out before my shit was done. Hahaha.

  • Stunnaboy09


    Of course someone was going to post it, its the go-to Z-Bo highlight.

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  • Seven Duece

    Austin, come on man, you must be related to this dude or have hung out with him. He’s had good numbers for a while, sure. But year in and out, he’s in the midst of some mind numbingly stupid controversy – while producing numbers that never actually change the fortunes of his team. Gasol numbers, no. But somebody will pay him, otherwise he wouldn’t be sitting on a contract that’s giving him $17 Mil already.