Zach Randolph wants Pau Gasol money

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There’s no denying the fact that Zach Randolph has made a pretty substantial difference in Memphis this year, even if the actual differences in Randolph’s game are anything but. Zeebo’s arrival in Memphis was met with zero expectations, and thus when the Grizzlies experienced an unexpected amount of success this season with Randolph as a 20-10 guy, it was seen as a redemption story.

The catch, of course, is that Randolph isn’t redeemed because he hasn’t changed. The Grizzlies are a better team than expected because of Marc Gasol’s leap, Rudy Gay’s incremental improvement, and O.J. Mayo’s continued ascent into awesome. And, notably — this is where you come in, Zach — because Randolph is a much better player than Hakim Warrick and Darrell Arthur. Zip, bang, boom, and you’ve got a roster that could finish the season with a .500 record with one more win after claiming just 24 victories last year.

Just don’t assume that any of that team success has changed Randolph, who is putting up the same numbers he always has albeit with slightly rosier results. With all that in mind, I hope you’ll understand my cynicism over Randolph’s want for a Pau Gasol-style extension. From Chris Tomasson of FanHouse:

Randolph might not know the exact details of the three-year, $57 million extension Gasol’s brother, Lakers big man Pau Gasol,
signed last December that runs through the 2013-14 season. But Randolph
does believe he’s worthy of getting a similar extension.

“Definitely,” Randolph said.

Randolph said in an interview with FanHouse before Monday’s game at
Denver he wants to sign an extension this summer, and has told Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley his desire to remain with the Grizzlies beyond
when his contract expires in 2011. He brought up the link to Pau Gasol.

“Me and Pau Gasol got signed to the same deal when he was in Memphis
and I was in Portland,” said Randolph, whose contract actually is
slightly less, with Randolph making $16 million this season and $17.33
million next season and the Lakers star earning $16.45 million and
$17.82 million in those seasons. “We got the same contract, and it got
extended. … I hope (to get the extension done this summer). I’d
definitely like to get it done.”

Zach Randolph isn’t Pau Gasol, and he isn’t worth Pau Gasol money. He’s still one of the league’s lesser defenders, and on a dollar-for-dollar basis he could be the worst. Plus, I don’t know if I’ve made this abundantly clear: he’s still Zach Randolph. He hasn’t even been worth Zach Randolph money over the last few seasons, as his game has been picked apart piece by piece and he’s been ridiculed in every media outlet imaginable for his generous contract.

Yet now, because Randolph’s team is actually winning a few games, he’s suddenly validated that deal? Right. Then again, maybe this is pointing to what has really been Zeebo’s issue all along: a lack of self-awareness. He wouldn’t be the first NBAer to overvalue his own contributions, but through all of Zach’s darker years, it’s never seemed as though Randolph even began to grapple with the possibility that something he was doing was wrong. It’s as if in Zeebo world, 20-10 is its own impenetrable logic, and they of the 20-10 cloth can do no wrong.

Well they can. This really isn’t meant to come off as much of as a complete smear campaign, though I’m sure it reads that way. Randolph has a place and a value in the NBA, and all things considered he’s still a very, very productive player. He’s just not quite worth the price tag he’s trying to put on himself, nor quite the redemptive hero he’s made out to be.