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NBA Trade Rumors: Would Memphis Grizzlies Really Deal Rudy Gay?

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 02:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives around Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 2, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Tom FirmeAnalyst IIJune 6, 2012

Rudy Gay bounced back quite well for the Memphis Grizzlies this season after suffering a season-ending injury last February. After Zach Randolph went down with a partially torn MCL, Gay rallied the Grizzlies to finish fourth in the West. Following that accomplishment, should Grizzlies fans believe rumors from Hoopsworld that Memphis is shopping him?

Absolutely not.

The Hoopsworld article said that many teams are expected to be interested in acquiring Gay, such as the Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and Golden State Warriors. Each of these teams have needs at small forward and in perimeter scoring in general. However, none of them have much to give in return.

Besides David Lee and Stephen Curry, the Warriors don't have anyone with great scoring capability, and they certainly wouldn't give up Lee or Curry to get Gay. The Nets and Raptors don't have anyone who could be truly potent scorers game after game next season to give the Grizzlies.

The Magic would be able to give the Grizzlies Jason Richardson or Hedo Turkoglu, but to compare the scoring ability of either player (at any point in his career) to that of Gay is simply laughable.

Indeed, Gay is more expensive than is convenient for the Grizzlies. Gay is due $16.5 million in 2012-13 and $17.9 million in 2013-14.

The Grizzlies are in a tough payroll situation. They have $62.5 million committed to eight players for 2012-13. For 2013-14, the Grizzlies have $58.5 million committed just to Gay, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

However, the Grizzlies are much more likely to maintain the core of the team than to break it up and alter the makeup of the team. To trade Gay would be to remove a great deal of the Grizzlies' ability to run in transition, which was a major part of the Grizzlies offense this season.

Even with Randolph healthy last season, the Grizzlies leaned on their transition game a fair amount.

Gay is the most dynamic offensive player for the Grizzlies. He's the best of any Grizzlies player at creating his own offense. Also, he's the biggest inside-outside threat on the team. The 25-year-old forward is one of the few Grizzlies who can hit three-pointers.

Defensively, Gay is a big difference maker. He was third on the team in steals per game (1.5). He's one of the key players in closing off passing lanes and forcing turnovers.

Grizzlies management is likely committed to keeping Gay, as it was last year when his name surfaced in trade rumors. Beating back rumors shortly after the Grizzlies fell in the Western Conference semifinals last year, Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley made an emotional call to Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal.

Heisley will surely approach the new rumors surrounding Gay with similar loyalty to Gay, making known how important Gay is to the team.

How veritable the current rumors are that Gay may be traded is questionable. Besides, all of the rumors that surfaced last year surrounding Gay came from outside of Memphis.

In response to a question asked of him via Twitter, Memphis TV reporter Rob Fischer dismissed the rumors.

@GrizzFan24 I'm not sure they do. I think it's all a lot of speculation

— Rob Fischer (@thefishnation) June 4, 2012

 

The Grizzlies are less prone than other teams to get bogged down in rumors surrounding their players. O.J. Mayo stayed strong down the stretch despite the persistent rumors surrounding him. Gay kept recovering at a high intensity last year despite the talk. Expect the talk surrounding Gay to dissipate as the Grizzlies grind through the offseason.

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