It’s a new year, but trade rumors surrounding Memphis Grizzlies small forward Rudy Gay are nothing new. Last summer there were rumors of trade offers from multiple teams, but nothing came to fruition and former Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley said the team had no plans to trade him.
But a recent report suggests Gay could be available, and with a new owner and new people in the front office in Memphis a move can’t be ruled out. The Grizzlies are $4 million over the league’s luxury tax threshold this season, and with the current contracts they have on the books they may be headed there over the next couple seasons as well. After this season Gay is due to make just over $37 million over the final two seasons of his contract, and even though having that much money left on his deal makes him difficult to move he may also be Memphis’ most obvious trade chip.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been plagued by injuries so far this season, and they have been left thin at shooting guard and small forward in particular with Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger sidelined by knee injuries. Gay’s scoring ability, as he is averaging 18 points per game this season and has a similar career scoring average (17.9 points per game), would help the Timberwolves in that area as they try to end a significant playoff drought.
But Gay may not be a good fit for Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman’s offense as a ball-dominating scorer, and taking on his contract would make it hard to re-sign center Nikola Pekovic, who is slated to become a restricted free agent after the season. But Minnesota would have to send back some significant salary to make a deal work with Memphis, and a few potential players that could interest the Grizzlies include forwards Andrei Kirilenko and Derrick Williams as well as point guard J.J. Barea. Kirilenko has arguably been Minnesota’s best player thus far this season, so he would be hard to part with, but his trade value may never be higher and his age (32 on February 18) makes a decline in production possible as the season winds down.
Leaving aside his contract situation, which is obviously tough to do, I think Gay would be a solid piece for the Timberwolves as a player who can get his own shot and has a scorer’s acumen. Of course a lot depends on what they would have to give up in a trade, but there’s something to be said for having to give up something in order to get something in return and I think Gay has upside potential that is hard to ignore.