Zach Randolph is the first to admit that he's not sure what's going to happen.
“I don’t know yet” is the answer when someone asks if he'll play out the final season of his contract in Memphis or opt out of the $16.5 million he's owed in 2014-15 to add one more big name to next summer's star-filled class of free agents.
What Z-Bo does know eight months out: He wants to retire as a Grizzly.
In this visit with one of our faves from the NBA's Lefties Union -- our first One-on-One (To Five) chat of the season -- Randolph makes it clear that he wants to find a way to stay in Memphis for the long term amid suspicions in some league circles that the Grizzlies already have his long-term replacement on the roster in Ed Davis.
In his fourth answer, specifically, Randolph seems to acknowledge that opting out to sign a new long-term deal that starts at a lower salary is an option he’d consider. It should likewise be noted that he has shed about 15 pounds to show how serious he is in what ranks as a huge season for the 32-year-old.
To the Q&A
Stein: I know it hasn’t been the smoothest start [for the 1-2 Grizzlies], but what’s the general outlook for you guys this season?
Randolph: What we’re trying to play for is a championship. Anything less than what we did last year [advancing to the Western Conference finals] would be disappointing. We have the same team. Added a shooter [in Mike Miller]. So anything less would be a disappointment. But I think we can make some noise. I think we can. Just got to keep pushing. Just be us doing us. We’ll be all right. Gotta work the kinks out.
Stein: What are the main differences between playing for Lionel Hollins and [new coach] Dave Joerger?
Randolph: It’s a different offense. We got more movement. It’s going to be different; Train’s been our coach for the last four years. So it’s going to be different. But I can play for anybody. I played under coach [Mike] D’Antoni [in New York] and I was one of his favorite guys. He’ll tell you. It’s basketball at the end of the day. It’s X’s and O’s. At the end of the day, just get your ass out there and play hard.
Stein: What did you do to get ready for such a big season?
Randolph: I lost a lot of weight [over the summer], stayed in shape. As you get older it’s harder, so I started early. But I’m in my prime, too, I feel. I feel good.
Stein: How will you make the decision on what to do this summer contract-wise?
Randolph: I’d like to be here. I’d like to retire here. You never know. If I’ve got to make some sacrifices to be here, I would. I still can play. I can still help a team out. I want to win a championship. I’ve made all the money in the world. I just want to win. I don’t know yet [about opting in or opting out], but Memphis is my home. If they trade me tomorrow, I’m here. I just bought a new house. My daughters go to school [in Memphis]. That’s my home.
Stein: Apart from when nosy reporters like me come up and ask you about it, how often are thoughts about the future weighing on you?
Randolph: I can block it out. I've done been through it before. They tell you one thing and tomorrow it's a different story. ... That's the business part of the game. They tell you you're there and trade you tomorrow. But I've been through it.