When Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph went down with an MCL tear on New Years Day, it was the consensus that it would be nearly impossible for the Grizzlies to improve on last year’s magical run to the second round of the playoffs. He played such a huge role in upsetting the top-ranked San Antonio Spurs as a scorer, a defender and an all-around emotional leader. Picturing the Grizzlies without Z-Bo seemed like a bleak future.
But since he went down with the injury, the Grizzlies are 9-6, including a seven-game win streak, and they’re still keeping pace with the pack in the Western Conference at 10-9. With other players like Rudy Gay stepping up to lead the team, the Grizzlies aren’t looking so bad, and Yahoo makes it seem like head coach Lionel Hollins thinks the Grizz might be fine if Randolph doesn’t come back.
“Though the Grizzlies announced Randolph is expected to be out eight weeks from the time of his injury, Hollins said he doesn’t expect his star forward back this season. Even if Randolph does return, it could be difficult to reincorporate him after such a long layoff.”
To me that sounds like Hollins would rather keep the Grizzlies the way they are. It’s that last part that really sticks out to me, “it could be difficult to reincorporate him.” If he’s your team leader, don’t you do whatever it takes to try and “reincorporate him”?
While I do think that the Grizzlies are playing well, I think they’d be even better if they get Randolph back in the mix. Obviously, Hollins knows more about the severity of Z-Bo’s MCL tear than I do, but there must be other factors at work here. Either the injury is worse than anyone has reported so far, or Hollins saw something with Randolph during the Grizzlies’ 1-3 start that he really didn’t like and is ready to move on.
Either way, if Randolph comes back and says he’s healthy enough to play and the Grizzlies don’t work him back in, it’s going to make for some drama in Memphis. Stay tuned.
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