Zach Randolph has missed the last 9 games for the Grizzlies due to right knee issues and they have gone 4-5 without him.
Needless to say, Memphis is pretty happy to have him back in the lineup Friday night against New Orleans. Randolph practiced Thursday then went through shootaround on Sunday and is good to go, tweets Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal.
Memphis is 13.4 points per 100 possessions better when Z-Bo is on the court and occupying his spot on the left block. While certainly most of that improvement is on the offensive end (8.8 per 100) — and that’s understandable, there are not many better scorers from the block than Randolph — he did also help their defense.
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Which is what the Grizzles really need — in their last 10 games they are allowing 106.7 points per 100 possessions, which is 4.7 more points than their season average and ranks as 25th in the NBA. What’s worse, as the fantastic John Schuhmann noted at NBA.com, at the end of November the Grizzlies were fourth in the league allowing just 97.8 points per 100.
Injuries have set the Grizzlies back, both to Randolph but also Tony Allen. Memphis is looking around on the trade market for an upgrade for Tayshaun Prince as well (although Jeff Green is not the guy you bring in as a defensive stopper). It’s a little bit of a lot of things, but the Grizzlies need to get back on their defense track to hold their ground in an unforgiving Western Conference.
This is not a surprise. When the Celtics picked up Brandan Wright from the Dallas Mavericks as part of the Rajon Rondo trade it was thought they would flip him for more future assets rather than make him part of the long-term plan for in Boston.
Celtics GM Danny Ainge told Wright as much, according to J. Michael at CSNWashington.com.
Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge has informed the 6-10 center that he’s on the block and should expect to be on another team. That’s why Wright had a head-scratching DNP this week on a team that could use his skill set.
Wright is attractive as a trade target for two key reasons.
One, he has an expiring $5 million contract, so he is not a long-term burden on the finances of a team plus said team may have the upper hand in re-signing him this summer.
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Second, Wright can flat out play. He was getting key minutes in Dallas as Tyson Chandler’s backup and was giving them 8.8 points on 74.8 percent shooting (no, that is not a typo) plus 4 rebounds a game, plus he was a good defensive rim protector as shown by his 1.6 blocks a game. Look at it this way, he had a PER of 25.8 in Dallas.
There are a number of teams that could use a big man for depth as teams start to gear up for the playoffs. The Cavaliers had been a possible destination but that ends with the Timofey Mozgov trade. What Boston will want back are picks and young players, things that can help them in the rebuilding process.
If you’re looking for guys most likely to be moved by the February trade deadline, Wright and Boston teammate Jeff Green should be at the top of your list.
Hassan Whiteside has been a nice little surprise for Miami. He has 14 blocks in his last four games, after picking up four in Miami’s loss to Portland Thursday night. He also had 10 points in that game.
Two of them emphatically. He got a nice alley-oop pass from Norris Cole and knew what to do with it.