Xavier Henry Sits Out Summer League with Contract Dispute

by July 17, 2010

by Ryne Nelson

Every season, it’s always something new with the Grizzlies. This time, the team couldn’t wait ’til training camp to pick its first fight.

Michael Heisley, the Grizzlies owner, and Arn Tellem, Xavier Henry’s agent, are in a contentious dispute over the terms of the first rounder’s rookie contract.

As a result, Henry is not playing on the Grizzlies summer league team.

Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal first shed light on the issue:

Grizzlies rookie Xavier Henry did not make his NBA summer league debut Monday night because of what appears to be a contract dispute with the team.

“We have not come to contractual terms with him so my understanding is that his agent (Arn Tellem) decided not to let him play in the summer league until a contract is signed,” Griz owner Michael Heisley said while sitting courtside for his team’s game against Atlanta in UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

Here’s the nitty-gritty of rookie contracts: Teams can offer 80-120 percent of the standard rookie salary scale to first round picks. Most teams offer 120 percent. But, according to Tillery and others close to the situation, the Grizzlies allegedly offered 100 percent with the other 20 percent being incentive-based.

It’s amazing to think that Heisley can throw $84 million at Rudy Gay and is still haggling over a few thousand with Henry and fellow first round pick Greivis Vazques, who, on the other hand, played this week despite being unsigned.

While this seems like another unsightly move on the Grizzlies part, FanHouse’s Tom Ziller explains that there could be some logic behind it:

The sad thing about the episode is that it might actually be a good idea. So much uncertainty remains in the draft (even with the age minimum) that a performance scale could be useful to reward the best youngsters, who otherwise have to wait until the fifth year of their NBA careers to be rewarded.

But when the Grizzlies try to pull it off, it drudges up all those old beliefs about frugality Gay’s contract seemed to erase. The period of time in which Heisley’s critics had to hold off on calling the owner cheap lasted all of a week. Well done, Grizz.

Well said, Mr. Ziller.