SACRAMENTO -- Mystery solved.
Zach Randolph hasn’t played a minute in the Kings' first 10 games this season. For many of those games, he hasn’t even been on the bench.
Following practice Tuesday, both general manager Vlade Divac and coach Dave Joerger addressed the situation with NBC Sports California.
“Before the season, we sat down, Vlade and I and Zach, and obviously Zach and I have been together a long time,” Joerger said. “I think he’s a terrific human being, and I think he’s a terrific basketball player, and at this point, you’d rather communicate and be up front with guys and say hey, we’re going to go with the younger guys and get guys as many minutes as possible.”
After leading the Kings in scoring last season, Randolph is the victim of the team’s youth movement this season. He is out of the rotation, and with so many young bigs on the roster, it’s unlikely he’ll see time on the court anytime soon, if at all this season.
Randolph likely saw the writing on the wall when the Kings drafted Marvin Bagley III with the second overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. His position was weakened again when the team signed Nemanja Bjelica late in free agency.
The 18-year NBA veteran came from the grit-and-grind system of the Memphis Grizzlies, which worked in stretches last season in Sacramento. With the team cranking up the tempo, it’s hard to see him finding time on the court.
“The way we’re playing and how we’re going to play, he just doesn’t fit in that type of style,” Divac said. “We’re so happy that’s he’s part of this team, being a pro and helping with mentorship of the young guys.”
It was a difficult conversation for Joerger to have. He worked with Randolph for years in Memphis as both an assistant and head coach. One of the reasons the 37-year-old veteran signed with the Kings last summer was due to his relationship with Joerger.
“I need you to be supportive, I need you to be that veteran and positive and help our young guys and lead by example,” Joerger communicated with Randolph.
Randolph has spent time around the team during training camp and early in the season, but he’s been home handling some personal business back in Memphis as of late.
The plan is for Randolph to be around the team more and to continue to work with the young players. While the team isn’t actively shopping Z-Bo, there always is a chance he'll finish the season elsewhere.
“Any opportunity for us to improve, we’ll look at it, but we’re not focusing (on trading him),” Divac said. “We’re happy that he’s around those young guys.”
Randolph posted 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 59 games with the Kings last season, and there is a chance he can help a team that plays a different style than the current up-and-down game Sacramento is featuring.
“He’s got a lot left to give,” Joerger said. “We see Tyson Chandler got picked up real quick. Veterans who have experience, have been in the playoffs, those guys are always very valuable and we certainly value him very highly as well.”
Randolph signed a two-year deal with the Kings in the summer of 2017 that pays him $11.7 million this season. If he’s still with the team after the trade deadline, there always is a chance that he becomes a buyout candidate. Until then, he’ll likely focus on the role of veteran teacher on the sidelines.