Zach Randolph

Zach Randolph thinks Grizzlies better set for playoffs without Rudy Gay


When Rudy Gay was traded from Memphis to the Toronto Raptors, a lot of national pundits shook their head and said, “why would Memphis kill its title aspirations by trading its best player?”

Those people didn’t watch a lot of Grizzlies basketball. It’s not that Gay isn’t a good player, look how he has helped Toronto, but the fit wasn’t as good in Memphis.

Don’t take my word for it, ask Zach Randolph. Which the Memphis Commercial Appeal did.

“I definitely do,” Randolph said. “I think once we get our identity together and continue to play, get some more games under our belt as a unit and come together, I think we can surprise a lot of people.”

We’ll see. Here’s the thing — Memphis was the No. 4 team in the West at best, it’s not like they broke up the ’96 Bulls. Memphis had little if any shot at a title anyway, but they saved money and if Tayshaun Prince can find his way in the offense the Grizzlies can focus even more on what they do well — pound teams inside with their size.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.