Grizzlies play hardball with Xavier Henry for no good reason

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Thumbnail image for grizzlies_logo.gifThe Memphis Grizzlies threw $84 million at Rudy Gay this summer because he has potential to be a team leader. Because we’re sure that outside shot will come around. Right?

But the team’s top draft pick Xavier Henry sat out summer league and remains unsigned in a battle over $336,700.

This is why, as much as we want to believe, it’s hard to take the Memphis Grizzlies seriously.

The Grizzlies drafted Henry No. 12 overall out of Kansas. One thing the NBA has put in is a slotted rookie salary scale, with the goal of avoiding the ugly lockouts the NFL sees every year over players who have yet to play a down.

Henry’s No. 12 slot is for $1,683,500 next season. However, the deal allows the team to pay between 80 percent and 120 percent of that number. It is standard operating procedure for teams to pay the 120 percent figure. Every first rounder gets that, has for years.

Except now with Henry. It was rumored in Vegas Grizzlies are offering the 100 percent salary with the other 20 percent based on incentives. Nobody knows for sure, but they are not offering the full 120 percent that is standard.

The Grizzlies are drawing a line in the sand to save $336,70. That is NBA chump change. And over a player that will already be a great value at his price.

Henry did not play in the Summer League for Memphis because he didn’t have a signed deal on the advice of his agent Arn Tellem. That was largely out of principal, guys play in Summer League all the time with deals not signed.

But this is simply ridiculous. Henry missed Summer League — a chance to learn the system and get some experience along side OJ Mayo and Hasheem Thabeet — so that the Grizzlies could save a few hundred thousand on a contract that is a formality. I’m not the only person who thinks this is crazy, Mike Prada summed up the feelings of a lot of fans.

There was not a lot of good news out of Vegas for Memphis fans: Mayo is not going to play point guard, he had no feel for the position even at the Summer League level of competition; Grizzlies coaches said they were happy with Thabeet’s improvement, however I spoke with talent evaluators from other teams in Vegas who remain unimpressed with Thabeet. And I watched small forwards get rebounds away from him. (Sam Young was a legitimate bright spot, if you’re looking for one.)

Henry could have been an upbeat bit of news, the guy can play.

But the Grizzlies have been penny wise and pound foolish all summer. That’s why they are the Grizzlies.