Pondexter Settling in for Hard Work


If you follow Grizzlies swingman Quincy Pondexter on Twitter, @QuincyPondexter, you might know of his dog, Buckets, and maybe even follow Buckets on Twitter, too at @bucketsQP20. And in light of the four-year contract extension Pondexter just received from the Grizzlies – reportedly in excess of $14 million – you might be thinking that life is changing for both of them.

Quincy Pondexter has signed a four-year contract extension with the Memphis Grizzlies. But the only change he said he expects is even more work.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

“He’s gonna still be getting dog food and I’m still gonna be eating fast food,” Pondexter said. “I don’t think anything’s changed for me. It’s a blessing.

“If anything I’m gonna work harder. I’m still young in my career and I’m glad they made the long-term commitment to me. I know myself; I know I’m not satisfied. I want to do so much better.”

And, if anything, Pondexter has the reputation as a guy that is in the gym too much.

“He’s a worker almost to a fault sometimes,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said.

Traded to the Grizzlies from New Orleans for backup point guard Greivis Vasquez on Dec. 24, 2011, the 6-6, 225-pound Pondexter averaged 6.4 points off the bench last season but flourished in the NBA playoffs, averaging 8.9 points and shooting 45.3 percent from 3-point range. He took his game up another level in the Western Conference Finals where San Antonio swept the Grizzlies in four games but he averaged 15.3 points with 3.3 rebounds and shot 53.7 percent from the floor, 48 percent from 3-point range.

Pondexter says the new deal actually makes it even easier not to think in terms of personal numbers.

“I can keep building,” he said. “I don’t have to put pressure on anything. I’m playing straight for the team. I’ve never been a player that really cared about points, assists, all that stuff. I care about my team winning.”

Joerger says that as an assistant with the Grizzlies and now as the first-year head coach, he’s learned how to get the best out of Pondexter.

“If he gets all tensed up, he’s not an effective player,” Joerger said. “The best way with him is to be very positive. If he has someone screaming at him, he’s not as effective.”

With a growing reputation as a shooter, “QPon,” as he’s often known, will have players getting in his face when he spots up behind the 3-point line. But that’s an opportunity to expand his game, not just keep firing from long range.

“I’m so athletic and able to do other things on the floor that once people start closing out on my shot, I’ll be able to create for myself and my teammates and be a playmaker,” Pondexter said.

That all makes sense in the here and now. But growing up in Fresno, Calif., going to the same high school as NBA players and twins Robin and Brook Lopez, it was difficult to imagine this would be where Pondexter is at age 25.

“We would all the time during class say, ‘Who’s gonna make it to the NBA? At least one of us is going to make it to the NBA,’” Pondexter recalled. “We never thought all three of us were going to make it and be here for the long haul.

“I think we’re gonna have a great time at our 10-year class reunion,” he said. “A lot of loans and autographs.”