Rudy Gay is the hottest name on the NBA trading block as the Memphis Grizzlies explore their options. While he might end up staying where he is, one potential trade makes a lot of sense for both parties.
Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that if there is to be a trade for the talented wing, it would have to be an obvious trade. He mentions that something like Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards would qualify:
According to a person with knowledge of those conversations, Gay is likely to remain a Grizzly through the end of this season. The message to Gay at the moment is that if he is dealt by the league's Feb. 21 trade deadline, then the Griz will have been offered a no-brainer scenario.
For example, the Griz have entertained the Washington Wizards' offer for Gay. The crux of that exchange would have the Griz receiving rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal in a larger package.
NBA analyst Ric Bucher also reported that the Wizards have made a "good" offer for Gay, although he does not mention specifically what is involved. It is assumed that Beal would have to be a part of the deal.
If this turns out to be the case, this would be a good move for both teams.
Memphis is interested in trading its leading scorer for one reason: money. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the team is interested in moves that will help reduce the luxury tax in the future:
It was widely assumed around the league coming into the season that the Grizzlies' new ownership group, headed by majority owner Robert Pera and CEO Jason Levien, would look into moving Gay to lessen Memphis' luxury-tax obligations after this season and coming seasons.
By trading an expensive asset like Gay for a younger player, the team can save a lot of money that would reduce the organization's flexibility.
In addition, the return would certainly make the trade worth it. Beal is a 19-year-old shooting guard that is already proving that he can score at this level and will only get better.
The youngster is only one year out of high school and he is averaging 13.2 points per game. He is also just starting to get more comfortable as a shooter. In six games in January, he has made 53.6 percent of his three-point shots.
After two years at Connecticut, Gay only averaged 10.8 points per game in his rookie season.
Memphis is set in the frontcourt, so the addition of a scorer as a replacement is all that matters.
Of course, the Wizards would also have to send over a few more pieces to make this deal work. While Emeka Okafor and his large salary could be added to complete the trade, the Grizzlies might prefer a package of Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster.
Both contracts would end before Gay becomes a free agent, so this move keeps the flexibility while making the team better in the long term.
Who turns down this trade?
If either team is still holding up the deal, draft picks can always be used to sweeten the pot.
For the Wizards, the trade would give them something they have been severely lacking in recent years: star power.
Gay is a young, potential All-Star player that grew up in nearby Baltimore. He fills up the stat sheet and has an ability to make highlight plays.
Not only would he immediately help the team in the standings, but he would also help in ticket sales and merchandise. According to ESPN, only three teams have had a harder time filling the arena than Washington.
Alongside former No. 1 overall pick John Wall, Gay can be a big-time player in a city that loves its stars. Washington D.C. has Robert Griffin III, Alexander Ovechkin and Bryce Harper, but they need someone to take over the basketball part.
The talented player already has an established presence around the league and is certain to succeed in this new potential location.
While the team might not want to part with a young talent like Beal, it is tougher to keep a 6-28 team intact.
This trade makes too much sense not to happen. Both sides should do whatever it takes to make sure the deal gets done to make each organization better.