Randolph in his sixth season is having his best statistical year ever. He leads the Blazers in points at 24.0 per contest and rebounds and 10.2. The numbers Randolph is putting up are All-Star caliber even if he didn’t get named to the squad. He has the great misfortune to play in the Western Conference with other stellar power forwards like Nowitzki, Garnett, Boozer, Brand, Duncan and Stoudemire, all of whom save Brand are all-stars this year. Of those western conference power forwards only Nowitzki is scoring at a better clip. Duncan, Boozer and Garnett outrebound him but not by much.
Moreover, Randolph has age on his side. He is only 25, whereas Duncan and Garnett are 5 years his senior, Nowitzki is 3 years older and Brand two. There is more time left in Randolph’s legs than some of these other guys, yet he already is putting up big numbers.
He also has shown that he is fully recovered from the tricky microfracture surgery he had two years ago. And, his body is going to hold up over the long haul because of this style of game. Randolph doesn’t play above the rim. He plays the angles and has a soft touch. His athleticism will never make you say wow, but that means he has a game built to last and will continue to put up solid numbers.
A team with a need for proven low-post scorer would be well served to acquire Randolph. But, why would the Blazers look to trade such a player?
The answer to that question can be found in the direction the franchise is trying to move. Portland wants to separate itself from its “Jailblazer” past and put a team on the floor the fans can respect. The franchise wants people with the ability to make good decisions on and off the floor. Unfortunately, Randolph has proven he is incapable of that and he must go.
Randolph has never been good at making the right choices. Let us just take a look at his Wikipedia entry:
[H]e sucker-punched teammate Ruben Patterson in the face during a practice scuffle in 2003, an act which earned him a two-game suspension. He also has been cited for underage drinking and driving under the influence of marijuana, and was present when his brother Roger Randolph was involved in a shooting in an Indiana nightclub. After an initial interrogation by police, he was threatened with arrest based on his statement; Randolph gave a second statement and was not charged in the incident. His brother was ultimately convicted in the matter and sentenced to prison.
On June 8th, 2006, Randolph ran into further legal trouble when two vehicles, both registered in his name, were pulled over by the Portland Police for racing in a 20 mph speed zone. Randolph's car contained two loaded weapons under the seat of the vehicle; Randolph had legal permits for both guns. The officers claimed they detected marijuana odor coming from Randolph's car. In August 2006, a sexual assault complaint was filed with Portland police over an incident with a stripper in a Portland hotel room; after a month-long investigation, the Multnomah County district attorney declined to prosecute Randolph, citing insufficient evidence. Additionally, Randolph is facing a civil suit related to that case, and another alleging that Randolph and friends tried to intimidate witnesses in former teammate Qyntel Woods's dog fighting case.
Let’s just say he doesn’t always make the smartest life decisions. The Blazers don’t want this guy to be the face of the franchise when he has a history like that. I've heard others argue that Zach hasn't been to jail yet and this is evidence that he won't ever go over the edge. But, you don't have to be an expert in criminal recidivism rates to know his track record suggests he will do something stupid again and maybe he won't be as fortunate with the legal system as he has been. All you have to know is that a leopard can't change its spots.
In addition, he just isn’t one to lead by example on the court. Head Coach Nate McMillan has tried to instill a work ethic into the squad but Randolph just doesn’t seem to want to listen.
In a recent practice, Randolph was benched by Coach McMillan because he wasn’t exerting as much effort as Coach would have liked. Randolph just doesn’t take instruction well. This is not a good example to be setting for the team since he is the defacto leader due to his veteran status and his numbers.
Zach Randolph will be a good player in this league for many years to come but he just shouldn't be the leader of the Blazers. Portland would much rather see Brandon Roy emerge as the team leader and trading Randolph would speed this process along. Now it is only a matter of getting a fair value for Randolph and not selling him just to get rid of him. Hopefully the Blazers realize this and manage to get a good deal for him.