Tag: Zach Randolph

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat

Hassan Whiteside, Draymond Green spar on twitter over small ball


Golden State won its NBA title this year going small β€” Draymond Green at the five was not something the Cavaliers had an answer for. The two years prior, the Miami Heat won a couple of titles playing Chris Bosh at the five, spacing the floor with his jumpers.

Small ball works. Not for everyone β€” Green allows the Warriors to go small and not get hurt defensively β€” but it has proven to work with the right lineups.

Just don’t tell Miami center Hassan Whiteside that.

The Warriors Draymond Green saw that tweet and fired back.

Then they exchanged a couple more barbs.

Whiteside may want to note that the Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies to get to the Finals, and last I checked Marc Gasol was pretty good at scoring inside. Same with Zach Randolph. Didn’t do them any good. To be fair, part of it is the Warriors are versatile β€” they can go small, play bigger, and they remain very effective on both ends of the floor. But their core identity is smaller and faster.

For two years prior, even Whiteside’s own team leaned small to win β€” Chris Bosh as the five and LeBron James at the four for long stretches. It’s what created matchup problems for opponents. It’s what worked.

There will always be a place for a skilled big man in the game, but the old basketball adage “tall and good beats small and good” doesn’t always ring true anymore. Not if you have the right smalls.

Grizzlies, in need of third center, sign Michael Holyfield

Michael Holyfield, Chris Singleton
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Grizzlies, despite their reputation as large and interior-oriented, had fewer centers last season than most teams.

Starter Marc Gasol is back. Brandan Wright is now the backup, replacing Kosta Koufos, who signed with the Kings.

But Memphis didn’t really have a third center. Jon Leuer, a slim power forward, nominally filled the role, and the Grizzlies traded him to the Suns.

Have they found a true third center?

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders:

If the Grizzlies keep Holyfield into the regular season, that one-year minimum contract will essentially become a standard contract.

Can he stick?

Memphis has 14 players with guaranteed contracts plus JaMychal Green ($150,000 guaranteed). Green’s guarantee gives him a leg up.

So does his ability. Holyfield faces a steep increase in competition from the Southland Conference. His size advantage is much less pronounced in the NBA, and he has yet to show the skills necessary to handle it.

But Memphis could use a third center for insurance. Gasol is on the wrong side of 30. Wright, though healthy last season, played just 58, 64, 49, 37, 39 and 38 games in his other six NBA seasons. Zach Randolph could handle the position if pressed, but that’s not ideal.

It makes sense for the Grizzlies to waive Holyfield and assign his D-League rights to their affiliate, the Iowa Energy. It also makes sense for Memphis to find a third center, someone better than Holyfield. Until the latter happens, I wouldn’t consider the former a total lock.

Rudy Gobert throws shade at Team USA for excluding Derrick Favors

Minnesota Timberwolves v Utah Jazz

USA Basketball announced its expected minicamp attendees, prompting one major Utah Jazz question:

Where’s Trey Burke?

Turns out, Team USA had a late change of heart and invited Michael Carter-Williams instead. Simple enough.

But Jazz center Rudy Gobert wondered about a different Utah teammate:

That Derrick Favors didn’t make the 34-player camp speaks to the Americans’ depth. None of these players are headed to Las Vegas:

  • Kyle Lowry
  • Paul Millsap
  • Jeff Teague
  • Danny Green
  • Zach Randolph
  • Eric Bledsoe
  • Greg Monroe
  • Khris Middleton
  • Hassan Whiteside
  • DeMarre Carroll

That list doesn’t even include players like Damian Lillard and Derrick Rose, who chose not to attend. The U.S. is just loaded with talent.

It’s not hard to argue Favors should have been invited over some players who were. But try making the case he belongs on the final 12-man Olympic roster. That’s practically impossible, making this snub mostly academic.

But if Gobert wants to cape for his teammate, that’s just great.

Stan Van Gundy second-guesses himself on Pistons’ handling of Greg Monroe

Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons

By this summer, it was too late. Greg Monroe was done with the Pistons, and he signed a three-year max contract with the Bucks.

Given the circumstances, Detroit made relatively good use of its freed cap space – trading for Ersan Ilyasova, Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock.

But could the Pistons have handled Monroe better?

They had opportunities.

Shortly after being hired as president/coach, Stan Van Gundy called Monroe and Andre Drummond “an ideal pairing.” Yet, Van Gundy refused to trade the player who most interfered with a Monroe-Drummond pairing – Josh Smith. Van Gundy even regularly started Smith before waiving him.

Going back, Detroit offered Monroe a lucrative, but not max, contract when he was a restricted free agent last summer. He accepted the qualifying offer, setting up his unrestricted free agency this summer.

The Pistons still could have traded him, but they needed his consent. It seems they aimed too high. Maybe Monroe wouldn’t have approved a deal, but few situations would have been worse for him. Even if he would have lost his Bird Rights, that wouldn’t have mattered if he were leaving Detroit anyway.

Not giving Monroe a max offer last summer, forcing Monroe to play with Smith, not trading Monroe – does Stan Van Gundy regret any of that?

Van Gundy on the Lowe Post:

I’ll be honest. I go back and forth on it. I really do. Because I think Greg is an outstanding player, and I think he’s a high-character guy as well, and I think that those are the guys that you generally want to build around.

But I don’t think that he and Andre Drummond are the best fit. Not saying you couldn’t make it work, but certainly not the best fit. First of all, I think the game is moving smaller and quicker as it is. The teams that have continued to play with two big guys, at least one of them is, at least one, if not both, are guys who can step away and make shots. Indiana played with David West. Memphis plays with Zach Randolph. Those guys can all go 17, 18 feet and make shots.

Basically, what we were trying to do is play with two centers. And if you’re going to max Greg out – which he’s certainly worth the max; there’s not a question with that – then you’re going to try to do it with two centers.

And as much as it was a little bit tough on the offensive end, the real problem was at the defensive end. I mean, it’s just really tough. We put Greg in some tough situations, and he did a good job, as good a job as he could. But you’re asking him to guard stretch fours like Kevin Love and things like that.

You can’t sign him to a max, you can’t sign Drummond to a big contract eventually and then just say they’re going to share the center spot. That doesn’t make any sense. So, I went back and forth with it on Greg, and I still do. Part of me is wondering whether we made the right move, quite honestly, letting him go. Because he’s a talented guy. But the other part of me says we were never going to have the fit that we needed to move forward.

And I think from Greg’s point of view, I don’t think there was much doubt – certainly we didn’t feel much doubt – that Greg was gonna leave.

I generally agree with Van Gundy’s assessment of the situation. I disagree with his handling of it.

First, I think Monroe was worth a max contract last summer. Even if he weren’tΒ an ideal fit with Drummond – Detroit’s franchise player – Monroe still would have had plenty of trade value. Given the number of teams that offered him the max in free agency this year, I think the Pistons could have eventually traded Monroe for a better return than Ilyasova, Morris and Bullock.

That’s especially true if the Pistons had dumped Smith sooner. The 2013-14 season proved Smith, Monroe and Drummond couldn’t effectively play together. But Van Gundy wanted to see for himself, and that further alienated Monroe from the Pistons.

I don’t blame the Pistons for not offering Monroe max in 2014, though. Challenging him to sign an offer sheet they’d match was sensible. No player as good as Monroe had ever accepted the qualifying offer. It wasn’t reasonable to bank on him becoming the first.

For what it’s worth, there’s no guarantee Monroe would have accepted a max offer from the Pistons last summer. There was a report he wouldn’t, and Van Gundy talked to Zach Lowe about it now:

I don’t really know last summer. But Greg had, at that point, a lot of misgivings and, quite honestly, again, we didn’t know our team real well. I’d had six weeks here, and were pretty conservative in what we willing to do money-wise. We did offer him a contract that would have made him our highest-paid guy, but we didn’t go to the max.

At that point is where Van Gundy and I really disagree. Once Monroe accepted the qualifying offer, the Pistons had to trade him. They could have sold him to a contender as a rental. I can’t believe Monroe, after all that losing in Detroit, would have rejected a chance to play for a winner. Whatever the Pistons could have gotten, as long as it didn’t interfere with their 2015 cap space, would have been better than riding out a lost season with Monroe.

The Pistons aren’t in a bad spot now. Their roster better fits Van Gundy’s system. But they lost a major asset in Monroe with only the resulting cap space in return, and it’s easy to find a few points they could have avoided that fate.

No wonder Van Gundy is second-guessing himself.

For what it’s worth, that’s a healthy approach. The Pistons clearly have an introspective leader, which him more likely to handle the next dilemma better.

Lakers’ coach Byron Scott says Kobe Bryant will “probably” play some power forward

Kobe Bryant, Byron Scott

We knew that with a guard rotation of Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell and Lou Williams, the Lakers were going to slide Kobe Bryant over to the three for stretches this season. And when Lakers’ trainer Gary Vitti discussed it with him, Kobe’s reaction was “I can do that.” Which is probably Kobe’s reaction to every question he is ever asked β€” “Hey Kobe, could you land a 747?” β€” but in this case he certainly can do it if healthy.

But how about Kobe at as a small four?

Not sure how Kobe feels about it, but Lakers’ coach Byron Scott is thinking about it, he told David Aldridge of NBA.comΒ (hat tip to NBA Reddit).

“The one thing that we wanted to do and accomplish through this draft and through free agency was to try and be a little more versatile, have some versatility. So I think (Clarkson, Russell, Williams) can definitely do that. Kobe can play one, two and three. There’s no doubt in my mind. And there’s some games. against some teams, where he’ll probably play four. With his tenaciousness, the way he guards people and when his mind is set, if I say ‘Kobe, you’ve got him,’ he takes that as a challenge. You know how he is. He’ll compete.”

This is a decent idea, one worth exploring, if it is situational (the Lakers tried it very, very briefly last season).

If the Lakers are playing the Toronto Raptors and they’ve gone small with DeMarre Carroll at the four, the Lakers can match that with Kobe. Same with the Wizards if they go small and slide Jared Dudley to the four. Orlando if they go small with Tobias Harris at the four. There are matchups where this could work for the Lakers β€” not for long stretches, playing against bigger guys would take a toll on Kobe’s body, but for 5-10 minutes it could work.

However, notice all the teams noted above are in the East. The problem is that in the West most of the teams have fours Kobe would simply not be able to match defensively β€” Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka (or the Thunder go small with Kevin Durant), LaMarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph, Dirk Nowitzki, Draymond Green, and the list goes on. The West is simply a different animal with the forward spots.

That’s why most of the Lakers’ minutes at the four will be split between Julius Randle and Brandon Bass. Still, I could see a short stretch with three shooters to space the floor, Kobe at the four and Bass at the five. It’s worth taking a look at in preseason and early in the season. Scott is right, versatility matters more and more in the NBA. We’ll see if he puts that plan into action.