Wright ready to provide missing ingredient to Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Brandan Wright remembers beating new Memphis Grizzlies teammate Marc Gasol for a Tennessee high school state championship.
''I think he thinks about it a little bit more than I think about it,'' Wright said Friday. Now he's hoping the two of them can win a title together.
The Memphis Grizzlies introduced their newest free-agent acquisition Friday, one day after signing the 6-foot-10 forward. Although the Grizzlies didn't announce financial details, The Associated Press previously reported Wright had agreed to a three-year deal worth about $18 million.
Wright said he was offered a little more by other teams, but the opportunity to play for a perennial playoff team in his home state was too tempting to resist.
''I think this team is on the cusp of some really, really great things,'' Wright said. ''Just a few tweaks here and there, and I think we can be there at the end.''
The 27-year-old Wright averaged 7.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks last season while spending time with the Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns. The former lottery pick from North Carolina also has played for the Golden State Warriors and New Jersey Nets since beginning his NBA career in 2007.
Wright grew up in the Nashville area and Gasol lived in Memphis. Wright's Brentwood Academy team defeated Gasol's Lausanne squad 68-49 in a 2003 state final. ''We still talk about it to this day,'' Wright said.
''Every single year, we'd see each other whether we're playing here ore they're going to Dallas, and we'd always talk about that game. He's still pretty salty about it.''
They'll be able to discuss that game much more often now that the Grizzlies have added Wright and kept Gasol in their two major moves during the free-agency period. Gasol, who last season became the first Grizzlies player voted to the All-NBA first team, has agreed to terms on a five-year maximum contract worth over $100 million.
Gasol and forward Zach Randolph form an imposing tandem that has helped Memphis earn five straight playoff berths and post three consecutive seasons of at least 50 wins, but general manager Chris Wallace believes Wright's athleticism can provide a previously missing ingredient to the Grizzlies' frontcourt.
''He's one of the best runners - a runner extraordinaire - that you'll find in the frontcourt in the entire NBA,'' Wallace said. ''Brandan is a shot blocker. He can score on lob passes from other players. He's got a great leaner in the lane. He provides defense, particularly from a pick-and-roll standpoint, which is just so important in the NBA today.''
Wright said he brings ''something to this team that hasn't been here in a long time.''
He believes his addition gives the Grizzlies a more diversified attack.
''I think it makes the team tougher, tougher to guard,'' Wright said. ''Obviously with the starters, we'll be more physical, a big team that can really pound it on the inside, attack the paint. Then we come off the bench and I think we'll be a little bit faster, a little bit more pick-and-roll oriented, a little bit more athletic.
''Then we mix some of those lineups, and it's a different aspect that hasn't been here in the past. I'm excited to see how it meshes.''