Lockout rules prohibit players from spending time with team employees, but that doesn't mean that players can't meet amongst themselves. They're free to spend their summers at their usual players-only pizza parties and box socials. They live a life we can only dream of.
In a few months, though, they'll see a change in their off-season routines. Training camp is likely to be postponed as both sides try (or at least pretend) to work out a labor agreement. So if players want to work on plays and general on-court togetherness, they'll need to do it on their own time.
Zach Randolph, of all people, may have a plan to do so. As of now, he's contemplating organizing a few Grizzlies practice sessions. David Cassilo interviews Z-Bo's teammate Tony Allen for SLAM Online (via PBT):
SLAM: Are you planning on working out with any of the Grizzlies over the summer?
TA: It's cool you asked that because Zach just texted me and said he was trying to round the guys up and get them into one city for a good week-and-a-half or something. So I'm waiting on a call. I'm pretty sure in the next week or so we'll try to get together as a team to find out if we're going over the water or we're staying here.
During the NFL lockout, most teams scheduled some informal minicamps so that players could keep abreast of the playbook and maintain an edge while the union and owners figured out a deal. (The funniest of these was the 49ers' "Camp Alex," organized by much-maligned bust quarterback Alex Smith.) Randolph's idea seems modeled on these player camps, although basketball teams probably don't need quite as much work as football teams. You know, because their sport is based on personal creativity and not methodically carrying out the game plan of a man in a booth several hundreds of feet away.
Nevertheless, it's a good idea, and one that no one could have predicted from Z-Bo before he arrived in Memphis. However, after making an All-Star team and being consistently dominant in the playoffs, Randolph is now the sort of player who acts as a team leader. He's growing up before our very eyes.
Sure, a Grizzlies practice won't be the same without head coach Lionel Hollins chastising Greivis Vasquez for stupid threes or a team trainer having to separate Allen and O.J. Mayo after the latter accuses the former of smudging his Puma. But these are the sacrifices we must all make during a lockout.
- Zach Randolph