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Clippers Trade Randolph to Grizzlies for Richardson: Roster Analysis

ESPN reports the Clippers have shipped Zach Randolph to the Memphis Grizzlies for the expiring contract of swingman Quentin Richardson.  This is an interesting trade that might actually benefit both teams, but for slightly different reasons.

The Clippers desperately needed to free up minutes for their first over-all pick and potential superstar, Blake Griffin.  The most likely scenario is for Marcus Camby to split time between power forward and center, with Griffin, Camby and Chris Kamen splitting the bulk of the minutes at the 4/5 positions.

Zach Randolph may or may not be to blame for the Clippers slump last year, but getting rid of him certainly doesn’t hurt any PR opportunities to bring back Richardson, a cornerstone of a promising youth movement a few years back that disintegrated in typical Clippers fashion.  If healthy, Richardson can provide minutes at shooting guard and small forward.  As an added bonus, Richardson has an expiring contract.  A qualifying offer has been made to Steve Novak, a tall pure shooter who could see spot duty at ¾, but isn’t signed yet. The rotation should look something like this, with the biggest question being which two of Camby, Griffin and Kamen will start:

C:  Marcus Camby; Chris Kamen; DeAndre Jordan
PF:  Blake Griffin; Marcus Camby;
SF: Al Thornton; Ricky Davis; Quentin Richardson
SG: Eric Gordon; Quentin Richardson; Mardy Collins
PG:  Baron Davis; Mike Taylor

Is this a playoff team in the West?  If Griffin comes out of the gate like Tim Duncan did as a rookie and Baron Davis regains his swagger and production from Golden State, then there’s a chance they can join the scrum for the 8th seed.  It’s the West.  It’s a rough conference and the Clippers have to not play like the Clippers to make the jump.

As for the Grizzlies, they drop an expiring contract for as close to a guaranteed 20 points and 10 rebounds as you get in the NBA.  Just don’t expect Randolph to give up the ball much.  You suspect the Grizz will want to pair rookie center Thabeet with Randolph, so Thabeet’s shock blocking may off-set Randolph’s lack of a defensive mentality.  Qualifying offers have been made to Hakim Warrick (a skilled, but under-sized power forward) and Juan Carlos Navarro (who seems unlikely to return from Europe), but neither is currently signed.  Their depth chart should look something like this:

C:  Hasheem Thabeet; Marc Gasol;
PF: Zach Randolph; Darrell Arthur; DeMarre Carroll
SF: Rudy Gay; Sam Young
SG: O.J. Mayo; Greg Buckner
PG: Mike Conley; Marko Jaric

Adding a borderline All-Star (oh, he might have the numbers, but he’s not likely to get the votes) in Randolph, the Grizzlies have made a serious talent upgrade, essentially swapping Darko Milicic for Randolph.  At first blush, this doesn’t seem to be a play-off team on paper.  Still, the old man of the primary players would be Randolph at a relatively young 28.  This is a young team and if the fruits of the last couple drafts can improve and not have Randolph drive them insane, they should be much more competitive and their near future looks a lot better.  Alas, anytime you plug Randolph into a line-up, you seem to have chemistry issues and how much of an issue this is in Memphis, only time will tell.

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