MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Zach Randolph insists he’s ready to do whatever the Memphis Grizzlies need or ask of him in his 15th NBA season.
Even play a little less, if that’s what it takes for the Grizzlies to win a championship.
Just don’t mistake that as a concession to age by a 34-year-old power forward.
“I think I’m still in my prime, and I’m going to let my game, the way I play, speak for itself,” Randolph said. “But I mean whatever I need to do to help this team, if it’s play less minutes, whatever, I’m with this team whatever we need to do.”
Randolph just became the sixth man to average at least 15 points and 10 rebounds in his 14th season or later, joining Artis Gilmore, Moses Malone (three times), Robert Parish, Charles Barkley (twice) and Pau Gasol. It’s something Randolph now has done 10 times.
Coach Dave Joerger said at the Grizzlies’ media day that he monitored Randolph’s playing time a lot last season, and the forward averaged a couple minutes less per game.
Pulling the man nicknamed Z Bo from a game isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds.
“He’s difficult to take out,” Joerger said. “Once he gets fully lathered, he’s like ‘What? No! Not now’ especially once he gets cooking down there on the right block. He’s such a go-to guy for us. We need a bucket, he can go get you a bucket. So it’ll be interesting how we manage through the course of the year.”
New Grizzlies teammate Matt Barnes says he’s always marveled at Randolph, a power forward never mistaken for the most athletic or fastest player on the court. Shoot, the joke about Randolph is that his vertical leap could be measured by sticking pieces of paper under his feet.
“For him to continue year in, year out to be a double-double guy, someone you can throw the ball to at the end of the game and get a bucket, someone that adds toughness, rebounding and attitude, he’s the last of a dying breed,” Barnes said of Randolph. “I’m glad I’m getting a chance to play with him.”
Randolph has been a key piece in the best run in Grizzlies’ history with Memphis reaching the postseason in five of his six seasons. The only season he didn’t play at least 71 games and average a double-double was in 2011-12 when a knee injury limited him to 28 games.
Grizzlies guard Tony Allen calls Randolph “Mr. 20 and 10.”
“Give him the ball at all costs,” Allen said. “And I don’t want to hear nothing bad when they’re talking about my home boy. That’s my brother. You can put him on the block with just about anybody 10 years younger than him, 10 years older than him or his age, he’s going to out-dominate them.”
While some players might spend the offseason shooting lots of balls, Randolph focused on details like spacing and the pick and roll to help open the court up a bit for the Grizzlies. Tweaking around the edges essentially for a man who knows how to work the angles for grabbing rebounds and putting up shots.
The Grizzlies also have All-Star center Marc Gasol, guards Mike Conley and Courtney Lee and forwards Jeff Green and Brandan Wright. That depth means Memphis ideally won’t need Randolph to carry such a heavy load night in, night out. Randolph says he only wants to win at this point in his career.
“Whatever way we’re going to win is the best way to win, and I’m with it,” Randolph said.