Report: Grizzlies, Zach Randolph contract extension talks stall, he could hit free agent market

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It wasn’t as sure a thing as Dirk Nowitzki returning to the Mavericks, but Zach Randolph signing a long-term extension with the Grizzlies was just pretty much a lock in the minds of many around the NBA.

The Grizzlies want Randolph long term, he wants to stay in Memphis, it was just a matter of finding a number that worked for both sides.

That hasn’t happened. The two sides are at an impasse in negotiations and that could put one of the best low post scorers in the NBA on the free agent market, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The Memphis Grizzlies and forward Zach Randolph have reached an impasse in contract extension talks and the two-time All-Star forward is thinking seriously about triggering his early termination option and becoming a free agent, league sources told Yahoo Sports….

Memphis has held firm on a three-year extension, but Randolph has preferred the security of four years, league sources said.

Randolph, 32, has until June 30 to trigger a $16.5 million player option on the final season of his contract. If he opts out, he can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

If he hits the free agent market Randolph is not going to make $16.5 million, but he almost certainly would get a four year deal from someone and make a lot of guaranteed money.

Memphis won 50 games last season and has gotten to the Western Conference finals two times in the past four years. Their plan to take the next step banked around improvement with and around their core players — Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. With Randolph and Gasol the Grizzlies have as good a front line as there is in the NBA.

Without Randolph, that plan goes the way of the Dodo.

This is the kind of leak put out by one side to put pressure on the other in a negotiation. More than just a cornerstone of the Grizzlies’ on the court plan, Randolph has become and entrenched part of the Memphis community and a very popular player in the city. To lose him would be a blow beyond the court.

Expect the sides to find a way to get this done.

But if not, Randolph will join an increasingly interesting free agent class with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and other still good big men such as Pau Gasol.