When Zach Randolph went down earlier this week against the Bulls, Memphis Grizzlies fans had to be holding their breath, hoping that it wasn’t as bad as it looked. Now we know Randolph could miss up to eight weeks or more with an MCL tear. It could have been a lot worse, but in this shortened season, every game counts and the Grizzlies can’t afford to have Randolph gone for that long.
The Grizzlies were already weakened in the post with Darrell Arthur out for the year, so they gave up Xavier Henry and a second-round draft pick in a three- team trade with New Orleans and Philadelphia to get big man Marreese Speights. While this desperation move will help Memphis put out a decent starting five every night, Speights is definitely no replacement for Randolph.
Spurs fans saw firsthand last year in the playoffs how important Randolph is to the Grizzlies. Not only did he fill up the stat sheet, but he was an emotional catalyst as well. He’s so valuable to that team and losing him for 8 weeks or longer is going to make it very hard for the Grizzlies to improve on their solid run last year.
Zach Randolph was a little more optimistic than I am.
“Oh, we got Mo today?” Randolph said. “Mo Speights is going to definitely help us out.”
Kudos to Randolph for trying to stay optimistic, but he shouldn’t kid himself. The Grizzlies are still a very talented young team with Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, etc. but Randolph is probably the player they could least afford to lose. Over the next 2 months, I’d expect the Grizzlies to struggle to play .500 ball, and with Randolph out, they’re definitely not a threat to challenge for the Western Conference title.