Trade rumors have been swirling for more than a year, today it finally came into fruition. The Grizzlies have been trying to avoid the luxury tax, that wouldn’t have been possible with several of the contracts given to their core players. Specifically the front court, that is where the strength of the team lies. Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay make roughly 16 million a piece this year, while Center Marc Gasol makes 13 million. Mind you that’s just for this season, all of their salaries go up by 1 million next season.
Earlier this month, the Grizzlies traded Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a First Round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for John Leur. Not to knock Mr. Leur, but this was essentially a cash dump by the Grizzlies as it saved them 6million. Once that trade was completed, it appeared that Memphis was indeed intent on keeping their core together for at least this season.
Today, that changed when the Grizzlies dealt Rudy Gay and Hamed Haddadi to the Toronto Raptors for Jose Calderon, Ed Davis and a Second Round Pick. Memphis will send Calderon to Detroit for Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye. The Grizzlies(should the trade go through) have gotten a quality veteran player on the wing in Prince and a younger wing player in Daye. In Davis they receive another young front court player, more importantly they get the cap space they sought after. Davis and Prince should be able to step in immediately and contribute to a successful team in Memphis.
Rudy Gay has not had a very good season to say the least, he has struggled mightily shooting the basketball. This season, Gay is shooting 41% from the floor and a dismal 31% from three. Rudy has been a career 45% shooter from the floor and a career 34% shooter from three point land. This is the worst(41%) that Gay has shot from the floor in his career, same with his three point percentage(31%). This is the first season since his rookie year in which Gay is averaging less than 18 points a game, his rebounding averages are down as well. So what did Toronto trade for you ask?
Toronto receives a versatile wing player that is capable of lighting up the scoreboard, Gay is a volume scorer. Can he ever be an efficient scorer? Yes, but this is about what type of player he is right now. Gay will give Toronto a viable “go-to” guy on the wing, which should alleviate some pressure off of DeMarr DeRozan. As mentioned earlier, this is an unusually horrible year for Gay. From 2009- 20011, Rudy shot 46%, 47%, and 45% from the floor. It’s not as if he hasn’t been an effective scorer in this league. The biggest factor in this paying off for Toronto will be the chemistry between Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay. While Memphis was very good with Gay on the wing, Gay never seemed to fully mesh with point guard Mike Conley. The combination of Lowry, DeRozan, and Gay on the perimeter has the potential to be explosive and problematic for Toronto. Will it work?
It’s up to Kyle Lowry to make it work for Toronto, with Calderon gone it’s essentially his team to run. Neither Gay or DeRozan are proficient three point shooters, of the two wing players Gay is the bigger three point threat. Gay shot a career high 39% from three in 2010, while DeRozan is a career 21% three point shooter. That has led to the belief that spacing will be a challenge for the new look Raptors. Lowry has his work cut out for him, although it may turn out to be a non-issue. We won’t know for sure until they are all on the court together.
Last but not least, Detroit takes a giant step into the future with the departure of Prince. In Calderon they get a heady, efficient, veteran point guard that can contribute right away. The addition of Calderon will also allow Brandon Knight to play off ball in some instances.
How will this pay off for Memphis, is avoiding the luxury tax truly worth tampering with the core of a successful team? Can the addition of Gay help Toronto improve? These are just several questions that need to be answered, only time will tell.
What do you make of these transactions, share your thoughts in the comments section below!!