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Man beaten in Zach Randolph’s home

Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (R) tries to work against the defense of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison (L) in the second half of Game 7 of their second round Western Conference NBA basketball playoffs in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma May 15, 2011. REUTERS/Bill Waugh (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

A bizarre story out of Oregon…

A man who went to the Oregon home of Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph to sell marijuana said he was beaten with a pool cue in a dispute over the price of pot.

The man told sheriff’s deputies at least three men assaulted him but Randolph was not among them. No arrests have been made, and authorities said none were expected on Monday.

Clackamas County Sheriff’s Sgt. James Rhodes said Randolph was in his home outside Portland when the beating occurred early Saturday. The victim was treated for head and face injuries and released from a hospital later that afternoon, when he called police, Rhodes said.

Officers served a search warrant early Sunday. They spoke with 10 people in the home at the time and recovered pool cues and blood evidence. They did not find drugs in the home.

Randolph just signed a mega-extension from the Grizzlies and has been a pretty good citizen while in Memphis. Yet here’s a guy who just got his ass whooped in Randolph’s home and the victim alleges it was over the price of pot.

Perhaps Randolph is looking to moonlight while the NBA lockout is in effect.

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Grizzlies upend Thunder, take Game 1

Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins (5) moves to the lane against Memphis Grizzlies’ forward Zach Randolph (50) during the first half of Game 1 of the second round of the Western Conference NBA basketball playoff in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, May 1, 2011. REUTERS/Steve Sisney (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

This Memphis team deserves a lot of credit. The Grizzlies are playing some very good basketball right now on both ends of the court. In Sunday’s Game 1, they allowed Kevin Durant (33 points) and Russell Westbrook (29 points) to get theirs, but they turned the Thunder over 18 times, which led to a +11 margin in shot attempts, and that turned out to be the difference in the game.

I’ve been harping on Russell Westbrook for a while, but the more I see him play, the more I realize that he’s simply not a point guard. He should play off guard a la Dwyane Wade. That way, he’d still be able to be a big part of the offense, but he wouldn’t be responsible for handling the ball all the time and setting his teammates up, two things that he struggles with. He had seven turnovers and 14 missed shots, so there’s 21 possessions where the Thunder didn’t score. He also gets stuck defensively on ball screens, and if he was playing more off guard, he’d be chasing screens off the ball, an area at which he excels. That said, the Thunder passed on Ricky Rubio and Stephen Curry in the ’09 draft and they don’t seem poised to move Westbrook off the ball anytime soon.

But back to the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph may be playing the best basketball in the playoffs right now. He scored 34 points and snagged 10 rebounds, while Marc Gasol went for 20-13 on 9-of-11 shooting. What’s interesting about this pair is that they wouldn’t be in Memphis if not for owner Michael Heisley’s decision to trade Pau Gasol to the Lakers a few years ago. Marc Gasol came over in the trade, but no one thought he would develop into the all-around big man that he has become. The Grizzlies were able to afford the trade for Randolph since they had the cap space left by the Pau Gasol trade.

At the time, the acquisition of Randolph didn’t look very promising considering he was overpaid and underachieving. But he has settled in nicely in Memphis and the duo have formed one of the best one-two frontcourt punches in the league. The Pau Gasol trade was still terrible on paper, but it has since worked out for both teams (albeit more so for the Lakers).

Game 2 of the series is on Tuesday night on TNT.

Peek inside the head of an NBA owner

Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley is a character. He appeared on the Chris Vernon Show recently and got into a…um…spirited debate over whether or not the Grizzlies should exercise a little-known clause in the collective bargaining agreement that allows for teams to negotiate a performance incentive into rookie contracts.

Xavier Henry is still unsigned due to Heisley’s insistence on this performance incentive. Rookie contracts are generally ‘rubber stamp’ type deals where the player gets the max (120% of the rookie scale) and he signs immediately. Heisley claims that the Grizzlies are not the only team to use this strategy, but he was unwilling to name any names and I certainly haven’t heard of any other teams doing so.

On the show, Heisley is passive-aggressive, condescending and entertaining, and in addition to the Henry negotiations, he defends the Pau Gasol trade, the Zach Randolph acquisition, and his decision to draft Hasheem Thabeet over Ricky Rubio.

Matt Moore of CBSSports called the interview an ‘abject trainwreck,‘ while Chris Harrington of the Memphis Flyer called it ‘borderline-embarrassing.’

Zach Randolph may be in trouble due to possible drug connection

An informant has told police that Zach Randolph is a major marijuana supplier in Indianapolis. 6News has the story, but thanks to Black Sports Online for the find.

According to a probable cause affidavit, a trusted police informant identified Memphis Grizzlies player Zach Randolph as a major marijuana supplier in Indianapolis, 6News’ Jack Rinehart reported.

Narcotics officers were staking out a suspected drug house on Indianapolis’ north side two weeks ago when they pulled over Arthur Boyd, 32, soon after he left the residence, near 75th Street and Binford Avenue, police said.

According to the affidavit, the Cadillac Escalade that Boyd was driving was registered to Randolph, and police found marijuana and ammunition stowed inside.

“One of his vehicles had what we call hidden compartments that contained suspected narcotics, that being marijuana,” said Lt. Jeff Duhamell.

Based on information found in the Escalade, police later raided a northeast side storage facility, where they said Randolph rents four lockers.

According to the affidavit, a police K-9 alerted to controlled substances in two of the four units, and police found more cars with secret compartments inside.

At this point, it appears that the police have some circumstantial evidence and the word of an informant. While it is troubling that vehicles and lockers owned by Randolph contained illegal substances, it is possible that he wasn’t aware of what’s going on. It’s not likely, but it’s possible.

Either way, it’s a dumb thing to do. If you’re going to buy one of your buddies a gift, just give it to him — don’t keep ownership of the vehicle. And why does Randolph rent four lockers in Indianapolis? And if he was aware of what was going on, or is/was involved in a drug ring, what is he thinking? He’s a professional basketball player and makes millions and millions of dollars every season. Why would he moonlight as a drug dealer?

Randolph’s attorney says that his client isn’t involved in any drug ring and is very upset about this news because he has worked hard to repair his image. Aside from a drunk driving arrest in 2009, Randolph has cleaned up his act in recent years after a long history of trouble with the law:

Randolph has a long criminal history. He was convicted of battery and sentenced to house arrest in 1997, and spent time in a juvenile detention center in 1999 for selling a stolen gun.

Three years later, he was arrested on charges of underage drinking, and faced charges in Portland after police said they could smell marijuana coming from his car.

A few weeks ago, Randolph insisted that he deserved Pau Gasol-type money, and this latest stint of trouble is obviously going to make that kind of extension a long shot at best.


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Who will win the NBA Most Improved Player award?

When handicapping the NBA MIP award, I always like to look at the player’s original draft position. Here’s a table with the last 20 winners of the MIP award. Take a look:

Notice anything? Only one MIP winner in the last 16 years (Tracy McGrady) was drafted in the first 12 picks.

It appears that the voters don’t just look at overall improvement, they also take into account unexpected improvement.

Looking at TrueHoop’s list of MIP candidates that received more than one vote from a panel of voters, here are draft positions for each player: Kevin Durant (2), Andrew Bogut (1), Corey Brewer (7), Joakim Noah (9), Josh Smith (17), Russell Westbrook (4), Aaron Brooks (26), Anderson Varejao (30), Channing Frye (8), Al Horford (3), Andray Blatche (49) and Zach Randolph (19).

Can we safely cross Durant, Bogut, Noah, Westbrook, Frye and Horford off the list?

Read the rest of this entry »

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