Everyone is in a holding pattern with the lockout right now. As European teams open up their training camps and the lockout seems closing in on claiming regular season games, the trickle of starts signing up for basketball overseas has not become the deluge that we might have expected at the beginning of the summer. Maybe that is a sign of optimism that a deal is closer than the two sides are letting on.
Still many of the stars in the league when asked about the prospect of going overseas to play have kept the door very open.
Few of these players though are thinking of doing what Memphis’ Zach Randolph is considering.
Randolph told Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal that he would like to play wherever his teammate (and restricted free agent) Marc Gasol decides to play should the lockout continue.
“I’m going to wait and see what’s going on Nov. 1,” Randolph said. “That’s when I’ll make a decision. And then I’m going to see what Marc is doing. I’d like to go wherever he goes. I’d want to talk to him and stick with my big fella.”
Randolph made sure to get his money before the lockout, signing an extension worth $66 million before the end of last season. It was definitely a relief for the often-embattled Randolph who became the rock down low for the upstart Grizzlies in last year’s playoffs.
Gasol has not yet said if he plans to head to Europe during the lockout. He is going to be one of the most sought-after free agents once the lockout ends either way because of the grit and potential he showed in his third season. Gasol had 11.7 points per game and 7.0 rebounds per game. Those numbers were down from the 2010 season for Gasol, but he was in the rotation for the first time really in his career and came up even bigger in intangible ways in Memphis’ run to the Playoffs.
So while everyone is talking about seeking their individual fortune and joy in the European basketball market, Randolph oddly is the one guy who is looking to play with one of his actual teammates. The Nuggets had free agents J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin hop a plane to China to play for different teams. But so far, no player has announced intentions to team up with a teammate.
Of course, whichever team would want Marc Gasol likely would be making an independent decision on Zach Randolph. And Randolph has no international basketball experience, at least not at the senior level. There is no guarantee a team would take Randolph, especially since his high usage, selfish style is not favored in international basketball — although his strong post game and rebounding would be.
Randolph, despite signing that big extension, said he is standing with the union and would miss an entire season if that is what it took to get a fair deal. Not what NBA fans want to hear, that is for sure.
But Randolph and Gasol, they seem quite chummy over the prospect of 2011-12.