Free agency begins in just a few short days and while Heisley has announced that he will move heaven and earth to keep Marc Gasol, one of the bigger question marks for our roster is whether or not Shane Battier will be wearing No. 31 on Beale this season. The reasoning goes that the team can’t afford to pay what he will command on the open market, as he will be seeking one last payday before his imminent retirement.
Well, here are some things both The Grizzlies and Shane Battier should think about before parting ways:
Five reasons the Grizzlies should keep Shane:
1. Really, we only need one reason and for those who have a little time, it is thoroughly covered in this brilliant New York Times piece: The No-Stats All Star.
2. Shane’s methodical defensive style and prowess is completely different — and completely complementary — to Tony Allen’s frenetic mayhem. The result is the controlled defensive chaos that Allen and Battier jointly set the tone for during last spring’s magical run.
3. Shane is a leader in the locker room, and leads by example in being willing to accept the role that coach asks. I remember seeing him in Houston’s pregame playoff huddles, doing the talking, getting the guys amped up and focused. When has he NOT done that?
4. Assuming you’re committed to developing younger players like Xavier Henry (whom Hollins has called Shane Lite), Josh Selby, OJ Mayo . . . well, really everybody, Shane is the guy you want in their ears, showing them the game within the game, how to be professionals. I wouldn’t say that Shane was THE reason the team jelled so well after Rudy went down . . . but trust me, it was no coincidence either. Shane makes his teammates better. Shane is a glue guy. He’s Mr. Intangible and he just helps your team perform better. Period.
5. Memphis LOVES Shane Battier. Before Zach Randolph displaced him, Shane still had people wanting to draft him to run for Mayor of Memphis . . . even though he was living in Houston. There was universal praise when the trade brought him back to Memphis (okay, half of that was because Thabeet was gone, but you get the idea). The Grizzlies can’t have too much goodwill in the city and the way I see it: Winning + Zach + Battier = Memphis Hearts Grizzlies.
Why Shane Should Sign With Memphis:
1. Heisley will pay him well. I admit this is just a hunch. But I can’t see Heisley lowballing Shane. Not with their history. Not with the goodwill Shane creates in the city. And most importantly, not with the success the team saw this past spring. Heisley knows what Shane brought to the team, and while Heisley may or may not make the richest offer to Shane, it certainly won’t be a pittance.
2. To compete. The reasoning goes that at this stage in a guy’s career, he wants to compete for championships. Why would Shane be any different? And if anybody knows how close the Grizz were to the West Finals, it’s Shane Battier. He knows that if that Game 4 Triple OT thriller had gone the other way, Memphis would have faced a Dallas team they’d repeatedly beaten in the regular season. If he wants to go to a championship contender . . . he needs to stay in Memphis.
3. Memphis LOVES Shane. See #5 above.
4. Memphis is relatively close to Houston. Okay I admit I’m reaching here, but if Shane stays in Memphis, we don’t know if he’ll move his family here. If not, Houston is a quick flight for his family to see him & vice versa.
5. Um . . . Okay, I’m out. Just do it Shane. If the Grizz make you a decent offer, think of all the intangibles waiting for you here — a city that loves you, teammates you already are familiar with and mesh well with, a coach you are on the same page with . . . I understand you must be paid, but money ain’t everything, bro . . .