Zach Randolph has been a starter for most of his 16-year career, but first-year Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale announced Wednesday that Randolph will come off the bench this season.
“Zach’s coming off the bench this year,” Fizdale told reporters after practice Wednesday, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. “We’ve talked about it. He’s been incredible about the whole situation. He’s embracing that role. Like I told him, I said, ‘Most likely, no one’s going to pay you to be a starter from here on out, so let’s audition you for what you’re going to be for the rest of your career.’ And it really clicked with him.”
Fizdale believes that Randolph, a two-time All-Star, can add Sixth Man of the Year to his list of accomplishments
“We’re going to go after Sixth Man of the Year. I want to highlight the hell out of him in that second unit. I need him to be a leader in that second unit, and he’s really embraced that.”
Randolph, 35, averaged 15.3 points and 7.8 rebounds last year.
“I feel like I can be a starter, of course, and carry a team like I did last year,” Randolph said. “But I’m being positive and staying ready. If Coach wants me to play 10 minutes, I’ll come in and play the hardest 10 minutes.”
Fizdale plans to replace Randolph with JaMychal Green in the starting lineup to play at a faster pace, something the Grizzlies couldn’t do with Randolph and Marc Gasol on the floor together.