Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images
By: James Hipp
Before the signing of Carter, the Grizzlies made a move to shore up their point guard depth, bringing back two-time NBA Champion and Grizzlies fan favorite Beno Udrih.
After being claimed on waivers by the Grizzlies in late February, Udrih quickly became a fan favorite in Memphis despite playing just ten regular season games for the team. The great response he received from the fans played a big part in his decision to return to the Bluff City.
"Well, when I came to the team in the end of February, everybody accepted me with open arms and appreciated me," said Udrih. "Everybody was just really nice to me. The system that (Coach Joerger) and all the assistant coaches run I think fits me perfectly and I can actually help the team really well.
"I felt really appreciated as a player and a person, so it definitely wasn't a hard decision to make. Once we got the terms I was like 'yes, let's do it. I'm ready to sign and I'm ready to come back and work hard and try to go and win that Championship that everybody wants. '"
Udrih displayed his ability to help the Grizzlies in the first round of the 2014 playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder, averaging 7.9 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in place of suspended Grizzlies guard Nick Calathes. Udrih also tallied a career playoff-high 14 points in game two of the series.
"When I was with the Knicks, things didn't go how I expected. Once I got out of that situation, I knew I had to basically start all over again. I've got to workout hard and get in shape and you never know when the opportunity will come," said Udrih. "I think that's not just in basketball, but also in life. You've just got to keep working hard and be positive. If you do that, things will happen eventually for you.
"I got the opportunity. I was ready. I was in great shape. The strength coaches and the trainers helped me to get to that point. When I got some minutes, I just wanted to play hard and do my best."
Now that Udrih knows he can call Memphis home for the foreseeable future, his efforts are now turned toward making sure he's in peak condition for training camp and the season ahead.
"I took a couple days off to get some rest, but now I've been working out and doing CrossFit to stay in shape and gradually get back to top shape, so when training camp starts, you are in the shape you want to be in and can sustain it," said Udrih. "I'm willing to work hard and my goal is to come into training camp and the season even stronger than I showed I was in the playoffs."
More than anything, Udrih is just glad to be back with Memphis, a team that he feels can be very competitive going forward, and playing in front of a Grizzlies fan base that continues to embrace him.
"It feels great and I love them even more for that because they've been great with me. They helped me with a lot of things and they were so appreciative. Like I said before, they basically welcomed me with open arms," said Udrih. "I'm just happy that I'm coming back to the Memphis Grizzlies and I'm really excited."