If you thought the Rudy Gay trade rumors were put to rest, you thought wrong. This time, the Toronto Raptors are extremely interested in the forward.
In what would be the “ultimate salary dump,” the Memphis Grizzlies are attempting to sway rookie Terrance Jones and other valuable players away from the Raptors. With what is being leaked to the media, you would think a deal would be done now, but there is one problem: the Raptors are trying to find someone to take on point guard Jose Calderon‘s contract.
Calderon receives $10 million this season and getting rid of Jose will open up the starting point guard position for Kyle Lowry. Current suitors for Calderon are rumored to be the Los Angeles Lakers, who’ve coveted Calderon for the past few years and the Boston Celtics, who are in need of a point guard after Rajon Rondo tore his ACL last week against the Atlanta Hawks. Even with Jose’s talent’s, Toronto is struggling to find a suitor for him due to the depth at point guard around the league.
The Grizzlies could take Calderon, but a well-known sports reporter says the Memphis front office is looking for a “less expensive small forward to plug into the lineup for Gay.” They would also like to receive a draft pick in the trade.
As far as Rudy Gay goes, he’s leading Memphis in scoring with 17.2 points a game on 40 percent shooting, which is the worst he’s shot since rookie season in 2006. The Raptors would be looking at a core of Lowry-Demar Derozan-Gay if he’s acquired, but you have to wonder if getting rid of Andrea Bargnani and his three-year, $30 million contract.
Similar to Gay, Bargnani is vastly overpaid when you look at his production and compare it to the monetary value the team is investing in him. While he’s a solid stretch four who’s averaged 18.2 points per game for his career, that doesn’t make up for his lack of contribution in other facets of the game (mainly defense and rebounding). Since he’s been out with an elbow injury the Raptors have had a winning record compared to when he played (4-17). Whether Gay is better than what he shows in the Memphis or not, if they can find a way to get rid of Bargs and bring in Gay, then it may be a win-win situation for them.
Similar to every other small market team around the NBA, the Raptors will struggle to bring in free agents. Most recently, they’ve lost All-Stars Vince Carter and Chris Bosh to big market teams and it’s killed their development as a whole. Receiving Gay in a trade, they’re guaranteed to have him for the next two and a half years despite paying him nearly $20 million in 2014-15.
For Memphis, it seems like the new front office faces Jason Levien and John Hollinger are bent on trading Gay, whether it’s mid-season or during the off-season. That’s becoming more and more apparent as the season wears on.
If this team can walk away with 1) quality depth at the shooting guard/small forward position, 2) players that are threats from behind the arc and 3) players who can create off the dribble, then the trade may not effect Memphis from a talent point. Obviously Robert Pera and company aren’t for paying the luxury tax (see trade to Cleveland), so acquiring a player such as Bargs is out of the question.
With the trade deadline less than three weeks away all eyes will be on Memphis to see if they’ll be keeping their core of Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Gay together for one last hurrah before they’re broken up in the summer.