After being swept by Phoenix in their first round Western Conference playoff series, there don’t appear to be any untouchables in the Grizzlies lineup, with the NY Post’s Peter Vescey tipping C Pau Gasol as likely trade bait. Someone else who figures to be moving is G Bonzi Wells, who was benched for Sunday’s Game 4 writes the Memphis Commerical-Appeal’s Roland Tillery.
Wells also didn’t attend Game 4 Sunday, but rebutted coach Mike Fratello’s assertion that they mutually agreed he should leave the team near the end of its second consecutive playoff berth.
Wells said Fratello’s insistence that he skip Game 4 amounted to a “suspension with pay” and showed that Fratello “is taking stuff personally.”
“He doesn’t like me. It’s ridiculous,” Wells said in a telephone interview Monday night. “I didn’t do anything. This is so biased. There are so many holes in it. If I got suspended for something real they would have said something. But I’m just as puzzled as everyone else.”
Reached by phone Monday evening, Fratello was reluctant to react to Wells’s statements.
“I’d rather leave it as it is,” Fratello said. “I’m going to let it go.”
Wells (above) almost certainly will not return to the Grizzlies next season. The team likely won’t exercise Wells’s $8 million contract option for the 2005-06 campaign.
“I don’t know why it came to this,” Wells said. “Don’t make me the scapegoat. How can I go from being a starter to not playing?”
Fratello initially called a rift with Wells an issue created by the media. But Wells and Fratello weren’t on the same page most of the season. Wells often complained about a lack of playing time. Fratello was upset at Wells’s perceived lack of professionalism.
There were times when Wells cursed at Fratello on the bench after he was taken out of games. Wells also could be seen displaying his frustration by throwing his wristbands and headband into the crowd and at the coaching staff.
The latest incident happened soon after Wells arrived in FedExForum on Sunday morning for the team’s shoot-around.
Wells, recognized for his promptness, entered the building 5-10 minutes late. He walked into a room where the team was assembled for a film session. Fratello greeted Wells at the door and told the veteran guard to go home, and not return for Game 4.
“(Team security) called me later and said if I came to the gym then I’d be arrested for trespassing,” Wells said. “I don’t know what happened. I didn’t say anything to (Fratello). I was just as confused as the fans were.”