The new Memphis Grizzlies ownership has pressing payroll decisions on the horizon. The core of Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley is due a combined $53 million this season and $58.7 million next season. Whether to maintain the core or deal Gay is an interesting question that could come up.
Former Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley batted down trade rumors surrounding Rudy Gay the last two offseasons. This summer, he silenced the rumors with a relatively soft pronouncement to The Commercial Appeal.
Robert Pera has time to watch Gay and decide whether his salary is worth keeping. If the seven-year pro fails to please down the stretch, Pera could persuade Chris Wallace to trade him.
Indeed, Pera wouldn't send the Connecticut product just for the sake of it. Like Heisley, Pera would surely like to receive substantive value in return for this pure scorer. A solid player who could replace Gay's scoring would have to arrive in Memphis for the Grizz not to fall off the map.
Following are some trade offers that Pera would allow Wallace to entertain involving Gay.
Disclaimer: Statistics presented are current through November 18. Also, trades in which Memphis sends a first-round draft pick to another team assume that the Minnesota Timberwolves miss the playoffs before the draft in which that pick is to be used.
The T'Wolves receive a lottery-protected first-rounder from the Grizzlies, which is usable until 2016 in the case that Minnesota becomes a playoff team.
Josh Smith has started the season slowly. He’s averaging 15.6 points per game on 41.3 percent shooting.
If Smith falls short of expectations, the Atlanta Hawks could open up to trading him.
Rudy Gay would provide a surer source of scoring than Smith, whose career high is 18.8 points per game and has only averaged 17 per game twice. Gay has averaged more than Smith’s career high since his sophomore year.
Smith would slip into the 3 and provide just enough scoring for the Grizzlies, as the bulk of the team’s scoring would slip into the post to Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
The “Grindhouse” wouldn’t lose anything on defense, since Smith has averaged 1.3 steals and 1.6 blocks per game every year.
Check the NBA Trade Machine scenario from ESPN.com.
Derrick Favors started alongside Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson in the Utah Jazz frontcourt on Saturday. Favors didn't fare well, amounting nine points on 3-of-10 shooting.
Now, if the Jazz believe that Favors has a better outlook than Millsap, then they might be looking to deal the current starter at the 4.
A tantalizing possibility for Utah would be to rope in a highlight-reel producer like Rudy Gay. Gay would give the Jazz powerful scoring up and down the lineup beside Al Jefferson, Favors, Gordon Hayward and Mo Williams.
The Grizzlies wouldn’t lose any scoring in this trade, since Millsap and their current scoring leader are almost even in that category.
Millsap provides rangy scoring that would allow the Grizzlies to replace some of Gay’s offensive attributes.
The loss would come in defense, as Millsap is deficient on that end compared to Gay’s steal-grabbing proficiency.
Hopefully, Tony Allen could give Millsap some lessons so that the “grit ‘n’ grind” defensive efforts don’t falter.
Millsap would jump into the 3, even though his size might not suggest that.
Raja Bell would help facilitation and perimeter scoring.
Jamaal Tinsley would be a throw-in to make salaries relatively even.
Bell and Tinsley could walk after this season, freeing up $5 million for the Grizzlies and giving them a good chance to stay under the luxury-tax threshold.
See the NBA Trade Machine view from ESPN.com.
Monta Ellis can’t seriously want to remain in the basketball netherworld that is the Milwaukee Bucks organization too much longer. Memphis doesn’t represent a much bigger market, but it does present an interesting city life that many other NBA cities can’t match.
The Bucks would be able to get plenty of scoring from Gay, who would be quite open to sharing the ball with Brandon Jennings. Also, Gay would provide Scott Skiles with the defensive willingness that the former Chicago Bulls wishes he could have from more players.
The Grizzlies would add scoring by getting Ellis. The guy who scored 20 points per game three times in his last four years for the Golden State Warriors would boost the scoring potential of a team that only outscored teams by a couple points per game last season.
Tony Allen and Mike Conley might have to work a bit harder to pick up Ellis’ defensive dead weight.
Still, Ellis’ scoring could prove valuable for a Memphis squad that lacks a truly elite scorer.
If the Grizz were to obtain Ellis, Allen would stay in the starting lineup and the team would start three guards.
Ekpe Udoh would be an extra frontcourt presence for a Grizzlies team that only has two backup men up front who can play significant minutes.
Since Udoh has only one year left after 2012-13, the Grizzlies could flip him to dump his $3.5 million salary.
Doron Lamb would help in transition in what minutes he would receive off the bench.
Here’s the NBA Trade Machine citation from ESPN.com.
The San Antonio Spurs are watching as Kawhi Leonard starts to hatch from his egg and become an edgy scoring threat. Thus far, he’s improved from last season, but hasn’t exploded like some might have expected. Leonard is averaging 10.6 points per game and 15.2 per 36 minutes on 49.3 percent shooting.
That may be due to the fact that the Spurs use several scorers to compile their big scoring numbers. Leonard only averages 28.6 minutes and 7.9 field-goal attempts per game.
The Grizzlies could help Leonard get the minutes and shot opportunities he deserves by acquiring him. With a somewhat smaller cast of scorers, the Grizzlies could give Leonard the chance to take more than 10 shots per game.
Meanwhile, the Spurs would make their scoring tools even more remarkable, giving Tony Parker a wonderful young scorer with whom to run.
Both teams would stay steady defensively. Leonard allows 99 points per 100 possessions and grabs two steals per game.
See here for the NBA Trade Machine scenario.