Given how his
last stint in Memphis ended, Stromile Swift is surprised to be wearing a
Grizzlies uniform again. But rather than sulk, as he did at the end of the
2004--05 season and into the playoffs because of a lack of playing time, he's
determined to make the best of his second tour. "When they decided to bring
me back, I had to put all that behind me," says Swift, a forward-center who
last year signed as a free agent with the Rockets after five seasons with the
franchise that drafted him.
Looking for a
potential scorer to play alongside star Pau Gasol, Memphis traded Shane Battier
to Houston in June for the draft rights to Rudy Gay. Getting Swift back as part
of the deal was a bonus. "Stro's ability to protect the goal," says
coach Mike Fratello, "will make people think twice about whether or not
they want to attack the rim."
primarily for his shot blocking, Swift will assume a greater role in the
offense this time, with Gasol sidelined for at least three months (he broke his
left foot at the world championships). The 6'9", 230-pound Swift is an
able, if inconsistent, scorer whose wiry frame, innate athleticism (a tattoo of
Jesus holding a basketball drapes his left shoulder and is framed by the words
a gift from god) and leaping ability serve him best near the basket.
This reliance on
Swift is an abrupt reversal from the end of the '04--05 season. Now,
ironically, Swift can carve out the leadership position he has long coveted
with the very team he fled. "Hopefully," he says, "I can come in
and make a difference and be better than I was when I left."
Starting Lineup with 2005--06 statistics
(4th in West)
92.2 (27th in NBA)
with the Grizzlies)