Best Partners for Potential Rudy Gay Trade

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2013

Best Partners for Potential Rudy Gay Trade

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    The Memphis Grizzlies aren't necessarily shopping Rudy Gay, but according to Zach Lowe of Grantland.com, the team has "made it known in preliminary talks with other teams that Gay could be available via trade."

    Gay makes a boatload of money this year and over the next two, but 6'9" small forwards with otherworldly athleticism don't grow on trees. So there are bound to be suitors aplenty for his services.

    Still, the fact that Gay is owed about $53 million over the next three years makes a trade financially tricky. As we go through our five best potential trade partners, rest assured that every deal is permissible under the NBA's salary cap constraints. (Thanks, ESPN Trade Machine. You're the best.)

    In addition, we're not throwing out ridiculous proposals here. These deals have to at least make sense for the Grizzlies, who either need to add scoring punch to complement their excellent defense for a title run or shed some money to get under the luxury tax over the next couple of seasons.

    The Grizz might be willing to take on a bad contract or two in the short term, but only if it pushes them closer to being a legitimate championship contender this year.

    At the same time, the team landing Gay must have a need for him that justifies absorbing his salary.

    All right everybody, let's speculate!

     

    *All salary info from hoopshype.com

New Orleans Hornets

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    Memphis Grizzlies Get: Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Hornets' Second Round Pick in 2013

    New Orleans Hornets Get: Rudy Gay

     

    Why Memphis Says Yes

    Memphis acquires a talented, albeit risky backcourt scorer in Gordon who would ideally come off the bench and lead their second unit. Even if his high profile meant he had to start, Gordon would immediately give the Grizzlies an offensive dimension they lack.

    Suddenly, Memphis looks a lot like the other Western Conference contenders; they'd have a defensive specialist (Tony Allen) starting at the 2 with a pure scorer coming in to finish games at the position.

    Aminu is still relatively young and could either start in Gay's place or come off the bench behind Quincy Pondexter.

     

    Why New Orleans Says Yes

    Eric Gordon might be damaged goods. The guy has played just three games this year because of a curious knee injury and he doesn't want to be a Hornet. He said so himself.

    The soon-to-be-Pelicans are a young team in need of star power to complement Anthony Davis. Gay would give the Hornets one of the most athletic, wingspan-y frontcourt tandems in the game, and the money here basically matches up.

    If anything, the slightly higher cost of Gay's deal is mitigated by the lower number of years—Gay's on the hook for three more, while Gordon's deal runs for four.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Memphis Grizzlies Get: Lou Williams, Kyle Korver and Johan Petro

    Atlanta Hawks Get: Rudy Gay

     

    Why Memphis Says Yes

    Yet again, the Grizzlies get what they need. Lou Williams basically laces up his shoes and scores 17 points if he gets enough looks.

    And Korver can be the legitimate floor stretcher the Grizzlies don't have. Instead of Jeryd Bayless and Wayne Ellington running around the three-point line, they'd have Korver.

    Just try doubling Zach Randolph with him out there.

    Oh, and Petro is a total throw-in. His $3.5 million contract is necessary to make the money work out.

     

    Why Atlanta Says Yes

    In the present, this deal gives the Hawks a terrifying front line of Gay, Josh Smith and Al Horford. It costs them an undersized scoring guard and a three-point shooter, but they've got one of each recovering from injury on their bench right now.

    Anthony Morrow is a career 42-percent marksman from long distance, so if he gets healthy, he easily steps in and does a B+ Korver impersonation.

    Devin Harris can run around like Lou Williams, and while he won't score quite as frequently, he's not half bad as a replacement. Plus, the combination of Williams and Teague is a little duplicative anyway.

    In the future, the Hawks have a ton of cap room after this season. If they brought in Gay, they'd only be on the hook to him and Horford in three years. Teams with clean books can take on salary, and Gay's a nice piece to add.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Memphis Grizzlies Get: Monta Ellis and Mike Dunleavy

    Milwaukee Bucks Get: Rudy Gay

     

    Why Memphis Says Yes

    This deal takes Gay off of the books, which has to happen for the Grizzlies to avoid butting up against the luxury tax for the next three seasons. If Ellis sticks around by exercising his option, he'll still cost them about $6 million less than Gay would have next year.

    Perhaps most importantly, the Grizzlies are perfectly equipped to utilize Ellis as a slashing sixth man. Just imagine Marc Gasol hitting a streaking Ellis for layups and dunks. Seems like it might be fun, right?

    Plus, Ellis bought a $1.7 million house just outside Memphis in 2010, so you know he's interested in the area.

    Dunleavy would give Memphis some quality shooting and playmaking as either the starter or backup at the 3.

     

    Why Milwaukee Says Yes

    Monta Ellis has a player option he can exercise at the end of this season, which means the Bucks currently risk losing him for nothing this summer. That fact, coupled with the questionable long-term viability of an Ellis-Brandon Jennings backcourt, should be enough to motivate the Bucks to move Ellis for a star like Gay.

    Mike Dunleavy's value may never be higher, as he's playing highly efficient basketball as a capable reserve, but he's not Rudy Gay.

    If the Bucks want to entice Jennings, who is definitely planning to test the market, they could do a lot worse than bringing in someone like Gay to show him they're not messing around.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Memphis Grizzlies Get: Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved and J.J. Barea

    Minnesota Timberwolves Get: Rudy Gay and Tony Wroten

     

    Why Memphis Says Yes

    Instant depth. Kirilenko slides into Gay's spot at the 3, giving the Grizzlies a well-rounded offensive player who can guard three positions. In addition to that, Shved and Barea could energize a low-scoring backcourt as an off-the-bench tandem.

    On paper, this deal might appear to be of the least benefit to the Grizzlies' current roster because no stars are coming in return for Gay, but in unloading Gay's contract, Memphis gains some flexibility going forward.

    It's a win-win.

     

    Why Minnesota Says Yes

    Kevin Love is out again, but before he re-broke his hand, he was complaining about his team's lack of a plan. Well, getting Rudy Gay to create a core of Ricky Rubio, (maybe) Brandon Roy, Gay, Derrick Williams, Love and Nikola Pekovic sounds like a plan to me.

    The Wolves take on a few bucks here, but the get the best player in the deal and an affordable rookie in Wroten.

Orlando Magic

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    Memphis Grizzlies Get: J.J. Redick, Maurice Harkless and Hedo Turkoglu

    Orlando Magic Get: Rudy Gay

     

    Why Memphis Says Yes

    This is probably the biggest cost-cutting move of the options we've covered, but that's very much a priority for the Grizzlies, who want to get under the tax line just as badly as they want to improve their scoring problems.

    This deal costs the Grizz about $6 million more this season, but saves them close to $15 million over the next two years on the Turkoglu-for-Gay portion of the deal alone.

    The most important aspect in the near term is the addition of an elite shooter in Redick. He could give the Grizzlies the perimeter threat they need to open things up inside for Zach Randolph. Plus, his deal expires this year, so Memphis can either negotiate or enjoy the $6.5 million savings.

    Harkless is a bit of a throw-in, but his deal makes the money work and also gives Memphis an affordable rookie that has fallen out of favor in Jacque Vaughn's Orlando rotation.

     

    Why Orlando Says Yes

    A core of Gay, Arron Afflalo, Nik Vucevic and an upcoming lottery pick looks pretty good going forward. Plus, the Magic are a team that needs to be noticed. Gay gives them a marquee talent with a better track record and bigger name than anyone they've currently got.

    Considering the Magic were likely to lose Redick as a free agent this summer, using him to get Gay is a nice way to maximize his value.

    And as for Turkoglu, well, let's just say that if you're going to have an exorbitant contract on the books, it might as well belong to a guy who can play.