Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Randolph Thinks LeBron’s Coming to Knicks; Grizzlies’ Coach Defends Thabeet to D-League
NEW YORK –– Count Zach Randolph among those who thinks LeBron James will join the Knicks as a free agent this summer.
“I don’t know, it’s a good chance he will. The city, playing in the Garden, it’s going to be interesting,” Randolph said Saturday night before his Memphis Grizzlies met the Knicks at MSG.
Randolph and Jamal Crawford were traded from the Knicks in November 2008 in the first wave of cap-clearing space.
The second wave took place before this year’s trading deadline when Knicks president Donnie Walsh dealt six players for another set of six, including seven-time All-Star Tracy McGrady, who has an expiring contract worth $23 million. The Knicks now have just four guaranteed contracts for next year.
Randolph is averaging 20.5 points and 11.7 rebounds with Memphis, where he is a team captain and one of the elder statesmen on the roster. He became an All-Star this year but said his experience in New York was “a great experience.”
“I got along with the guys real well. The coaches were great and the organization was good, so I don’t have no complaints,” Randolph said.
The Knicks were 6-3 last season before Randolph and Crawford were traded, and Randolph says a team with those two, David Lee and Chris Duhon would be “tough.”
“We were 6-3 before they split us up. I look at it from right there. We were clicking. Me, Jamal, David, Chris. That’s a good squad, especially for the Eastern Conference,” he said.
Randolph’s deal expires after the 2010-11 season and he joked that he could end up back with the Knicks in the summer of 2011.
“That’s a good point,” Randolph said. “Me and my agent talked about that.”
HOLLINS DEFENDS THABEET MOVE
Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said he hopes to see Hasheem Thabeet improve and get better after getting sent to the D-League.
“I’m not expecting numbers, I just want him to go get a chance to play,” Hollins said. “We just want to see him go get playing time.”
The Grizzlies on Thursday assigned the 7-foot-3 Thabeet to the Dakota Wizards, their D-League affiliate, making Thabeet the highest-drafted NBA player ever to join an NBA D-League roster. In 50 games for Memphis this season, he averaged 2.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 10.3 minutes, finding little playing time behind Marc Gasol and Hamed Hadaddi at center.
Hollins said he didn’t think the move would hurt Thabeet’s confidence.
“I think it will help his confidence because he goes and gets a chance to play,” he said. “I would have less confidence sitting on the bench in a pro game than having the opportunity than going to the minor leagues and being able to play every game.”
Asked if it might become a trend to send top lottery picks to the D-League, Hollins didn’t rule it out.
“I think it should be. I think right now most teams don’t want to do it because we got criticized by the media. A high draft choice and this and that. It’s about development, it’s about growth, it’s about making your young people better and if sitting them on the bench and not playing them makes them better, then that’s what we would do. But if sending him down and letting him play gives him an opportunity to get better, then that’s the best move we should make regardless of what the PR criticism may be.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.