Did the Grizzlies pick Randolph over Boozer?

If this story is true, it’s mind-boggling…

The hottest Carlos Boozer tale to blip onto the radar this week: Sources say Memphis had the option of trading for Boozer instead of Zach Randolph earlier this month.

Yet the Grizz decided, apparently with considerable input from coach Lionel Hollins, that Boozer would have been less than thrilled to play out the final season of his contract in Graceland, thus convincing them that Randolph — starting over for the third time — would be more productive.

As difficult as it remains for many league observers to digest the idea that Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley felt he could no longer afford Pau Gasol but now is willing to give the combustible Randolph some $33 million over the next two seasons, there’s little doubt that Randolph will feature hugely for the Grizz next season.

It’s not like Randolph is a guy who has been mired in a bad situation his entire career. He has been with three different teams and they all wanted to get rid of him. It’s unbelievable that the Grizzlies had a shot at Boozer and instead decided to go with Randolph, who isn’t half the player and has a far worse contract. The piece is correct — the Randolph trade makes the decision to get rid of Pau Gasol all the more insane.

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The Top 10 Head Scratchers of the 2009 NBA Offseason

The NBA offseason is by no means over, but the lion’s share is behind us, so it’s a good time to take a look back at a few of the…um…let’s say “questionable” decisions of the summer. Here are my Top 10, in no particular order. Feel free to add to the list if I missed something.

1. Trevor Ariza plays spiteful hardball…and loses.
Let’s get this straight — the Lakers offered Ariza the same deal he was getting on the open market, and he refused since the Lakers could have offered more, but didn’t? Um, okay. David Lee (the agent, not the Knicks forward) says that Ariza wanted to go somewhere where he’d be “appreciated.” Lee overestimated the market for his client, and the Lakers quickly moved on to acquire Ron Artest. Now instead of playing for the world champs, Ariza is stuck in Houston on a team that faces a very uncertain future. Lee now says that Ariza turned down a deal worth $9 million more, but still picked Houston. It sounds to me like he’s just trying to save face.

2. Grizzlies acquire Zach Randolph.
Once the Clippers traded for Randolph (and his toxic contract) last season, I thought the bar for NBA general managers had hit a new low thanks to Mike Dunleavy and his wily ways. But Dunleavy proved that he wasn’t the dumbest GM in the league when he convinced the Memphis Grizzlies to take on the final two years Randolph’s contract at the tune of $33.3 million. Remember that $25 million or so of cap space that the Grizzlies were going to have next summer? Yeah, that’s down to about $8 million with this brilliant move. Just when it looked like Chris Wallace was going to rehab his image after the Pau Gasol trade — Marc Gasol panning out, trading for O.J. Mayo — he goes and does this. Sigh.

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Clippers trade Randolph to Grizzlies

Donald Sterling must have read my post from last week, as he finally OK’ed the deal to send Zach Randolph to Memphis.

Zach Randolph was packaged for delivery to Memphis on Wednesday when the teams agreed to a deal that will bring back former Clipper Quentin Richardson, and open a starting spot for rookie Blake Griffin.

In a surprise, the Clippers didn’t do it to dump salary. Owner Donald T. Sterling actually resisted the move when a similar deal with Memphis came up on draft day, saying he wanted to do it only if it was a “basketball decision.”

When his people said it was a basketball decision, the deal was resurrected.

Nevertheless, with Randolph under contract for two more seasons at $33 million, and Richardson on the last year of his deal at $8.7 million, it will impact their bottom line, and, with their payroll now far below the salary cap after this season, can make them a major player in the big 2010 free-agent class.

With the move the Clippers’ projected payroll for the 2010 season is only about $32 million (plus whatever they have to pay Blake Griffin), so the franchise will be able to join the free agent frenzy of 2010.

I honestly don’t know what the Grizzlies are thinking. It’s not like Randolph has shown any signs in the last few years of being a piece to the championship puzzle.

The Clippers could have traded Zach Randolph…and didn’t?

Two sources told the Commercial Appeal that the Clippers were thisclose to unloading Zach Randolph and his ridiculous contract.

The Grizzlies had agreed in principle to acquire power forward Zach Randolph on Thursday night but Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling later nixed the trade, according to two NBA sources.

During the NBA Draft, executives from both teams hammered out a package with Randolph and Darko Milicic as the key pieces. Griz guard Greg Buckner would also have been included in the transaction.

I have no idea why the Grizzlies would want to trade for Randolph, but if this report is true, it is mind boggling. He has two years and $33.3 million remaining on his deal, which is widely regarded as one of the worst contracts in the league. Had the Clippers made the trade, they would have saved at least $5 million this season and $13 million in 2010, giving the team around $17 million in cap space heading into the fabled free agency summer of 2010. The numbers might be a bit higher depending on how much of Buckner’s contract is guaranteed.

Why keep Randolph? Sure, he’s more talented offensive player than Darko Milicic, but the Clippers just drafted Blake Griffin, who is ready to play now. Why keep another power forward on the roster who has a reputation for being a malcontent? If I’m running the Clippers, I’d consider buying Randolph out just to keep him away from my star rookie. Griffin needs to develop in the right environment if the franchise hopes to turn their fortunes around anytime soon. This is paramount. Moreover, the team isn’t going to win with the lineup it has now, so the best idea is to get as much salary cap flexibility as soon as possible.

This is a serious head-scratcher.

Concerns over Mobley’s heart condition holding up Randolph trade

Zach Randolph has joined the Clippers, but he can’t play until Cuttino Mobley sees a heart specialist.

The source said Mobley would see a heart specialist on Tuesday.

When asked about ESPN.com’s report by reporters after the Clippers game on Monday, coach Mike Dunleavy said: “From the standpoint of Cuttino’s concern, there’s nothing they have or don’t have that hasn’t been known to us or hasn’t been approved by us and all the other teams he’s played for. Neither one of those guys has had any issues with any of the things that are even being talked about.

“All I know is that if Cuttino has anything, he’s been asymptomatic,” Dunleavy said. “He’s never had any issue with us. There’s never been one time that he missed a practice or missed a game or had any issues in any physical of any kind for us. I mean, I’ve been told by our doctors that the things that are under concern is not something that we haven’t known about or have had any issues with. So hopefully, it won’t be an issue.”

Another source told ESPN.com that Mobley’s condition has been present throughout his career and has never been a grave concern, although the Knicks were prudent in their diligence.

On the surface it would be hard to imagine the Knicks wanting to void the trade because they achieved their goal of clearing Randolph’s contract (which carried two more years and $33.3 million after this season).

No disrespect to Cuttino Mobley, but why would the Knicks even care if he has a heart condition? This trade is mostly a salary dump, though there is the possibility that Mobley and Tim Thomas may see some minutes this season. But really, if Mobley weren’t able to play, would the Knicks really take Randolph (and his salary) back?

If your goal is to free up cap space to make a run at LeBron James in 2010, and you’ve successfully found a sucker to take on Zach Randolph’s contract, then why would you jeopardize it by holding up the deal?

Click here for an in-depth analysis of how the Randolph trade affects the Knicks’ future salary cap flexibility.

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