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Grizz search for ‘new identity’ amid changes


The Grizzlies have been making changes – including trades, acquisitions and lineup adjustments.

Highs and lows come with the flow of any NBA season, and with just five weeks remaining in this regular season, the Grizzlies have been making changes – including trades, acquisitions and lineup adjustments – to affect how things go from here.

 All-Star forward Zach Randolph is back on the floor for the Grizz after missing 37 games with an injury. (Photos by Warren Roseborough)

 O.J. Mayo makes an eye-popping, wrap-around pass to Zach Randolph, who scored on the play. It was Randolph’s first game back since being injured against Chicago. The Grizz lost 114 to 110 in overtime to the Toronto Raptors at the FedExForum.

The original starting lineup of Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Tony Allen is back on the floor. With Randolph now back after missing 37 games, developing a new level of team chemistry is a priority.

“We just have to find out our new identity, whatever it may wind up being. I just told the guys I’m trying to fit guys in,” said Grizz Coach Lionel Hollins, following Sunday’s (March 18) game in which the Grizzlies defeated the Washington Wizards 97 to 92 at the FedExForum.

It was Randolph’s second game back from a torn MCL. He finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.

Two days earlier (March 16), the Grizzlies suffered at 114-110 loss to the Toronto Raptors in an overtime battle, with Randolph scoring a season-high 25 points and nine rebounds.

So with almost everyone back (Darrell Arthur is out with injury), the changes must propel the team through the remainder of the season, and possibly into the playoffs.

The current roster now excludes swingman Sam Young, who was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for draft rights to forward Ricky Sanchez. Young, who was in his third season with Memphis, stepped up last season when Gay suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. He is the last Grizz 2009 draft to be traded (DeMarre Carroll and Hasheem Thabeet).

The Grizzlies hit the road on Monday (March 19) for a four-game road stint that began with a loss to the Sacramento Kings (119-110).

The Arenas factor

The Memphis Grizzlies have signed free agent guard Gilbert Arenas, who will join the team on the road in Portland. Arenas worked out for the Grizzlies on Monday. Following a physical, he was offered a contract for the remainder of the season.

A three-time All-Star (2004-07), Arenas holds career averages of 21 points, four rebounds and five assists in 535 career games (455 starts) over 10 seasons (2001-11) with the Golden State Warriors, Washington Wizards and Orlando Magic. Selected by Golden State in the second round (30th overall) of the 2001 NBA Draft, Arenas’ career scoring average ranks ninth among active players (34th in NBA history).

Arenas has had some locker room troubles but that did not deter the Grizzlies, who are looking to add more shooters off the bench as well as a point guard to back up Conley and/or O.J. Mayo. Mayo has been running the point to gain rest time for Conley.

A shortened season and lack of practice time has hampered the development of rookie Josh Selby, who spent some time in the Developmental League to gain more experience. Meanwhile, Jeremy Pargo, who has had made some plays to help the Grizz, has not been as solid at the back-up point guard position as the coaching staff would like.

Arenas, a 30-year-old former University of Arizona standout, split the 2010-11 season with Washington and Orlando, averaging 10 points, two rebounds and three assists in 25.7 minutes in 70 games (16 starts).

The Grizzlies, now holding the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference standings, will return to the FedExForum on March 27 to face the Minnesota Timberwolves.


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