Zach Randolph said he will remain a resident of Memphis until he is “dead and gone.”
However, whether the two-time All-Star will remain a member of the Memphis Grizzlies until the end of the season is unclear.
According to various media reports, Randolph once again has emerged as the subject of trade rumors, this time involving a possible deal that would send the 13-year-veteran to the New Orleans Pelicans for fellow big man Ryan Anderson.
When asked before Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves if he expects to finish out the 2013-14 season with the Grizzlies, Randolph — who unlike last year before the trade deadline when he said publicly he’s optimistic he would end his 12th NBA campaign in Memphis — appeared uncertain about his future with the team.
“It’s a business, man,” Randolph told MemphiSport. “It’s a business. You know, we’ve just got to keep playing and I can only control what I can control and what I can handle.”
Randolph, 32, who can opt out of his contract at season’s end, is in the third of a four-year, $71 million deal the former Michigan State star signed in April 2011. If Randolph returns to the Grizzlies for a sixth full season, the two-time All-Star would make around $16 million in 2014-15.
Selected with the 19th overall pick in 2001 by Portland, the 6-foot-9 Randolph was traded in July 2009 to the Grizzlies for Quentin Richardson and has since been a dominant force for a Grizzlies team that generated its highest winning percentage last year (.063) and advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. However, despite emerging into an All-Star caliber player with the Grizzlies following brief stints with Portland, the New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Clippers, Randolph on Sunday said he has no lofty idea why he’s constantly being rumored to be dealt away by an organization from which he hopes to retire.
“I want to be here,” said Randolph who, before Friday’s game at New Orleans, said he was “hurt” by the latest trade rumors. “I want to retire here. But it’s a business, man. I can only control what I can control.”
Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said during his pregame media availability session that he isn’t concerned about the trade talks surrounding Randolph and that his team’s primary emphasis is to escape its current slump in which Memphis has dropped three straight and six of its last eight games.
“It’s not usually something I worry about,” Joerger said. “Our guys are pros. I’ve heard rumors talked about me. You
know, people make up stuff all the time. So there’s a lot of stuff that’s not true. Most of it is not true at all, so to respond to it by me or any player, you know, it’s all internal, so I’ll move forward and it’s not something I worry about.”
Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, the franchise’s longest-tenured player, said he hadn’t heard any trade discussions involving Randolph prior to Sunday and that at this point, “it’s just all rumors.” Also, Conley said he expects Randolph to finish out the year in Memphis and that news of a possible trade of the Grizzlies’ second-leading scorer won’t serve as a distraction for Memphis as the season progresses.
The Grizzlies (10-13), who saw their winless streak reach three games in a 101-93 loss to Minnesota in FedExForum,
entered Sunday’s contest against the Timberwolves three games back for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
“Zach plans on being here,” said Conley, the Grizzlies’ leading scorer who managed a team-high 28 points against the T’Wolves. “And we plan on him being here, so we’re keeping it at that and concentrating on basketball. I think in any other case, it could be a distraction, but we’ve got guys who have been in this situation so many times that it’s just thrown by the wayside. We’re just worried about basketball. We’re not worried about trades or distractions or what not. We know that’s going to take care of itself and we got no control over it.”
With his future with the Grizzlies once again hanging in the balance, Randolph said if he is forced to relocate via a trade, Memphis will be his permanent home regardless.
“And I’m still going to be (an ambassador for the city), if I’m here and if I ain’t,” said Randolph, who finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds while playing a team-best 38-plus minutes. “I bought a house here, got business relationships here. So this is my home and I’m going to be here until I’m gone. You know what I’m saying?”