NBA Trade Rumors: Grizzlies Must Keep Rudy Gay for Outside Shot at Title

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIJanuary 15, 2013

Is Rudy Gay on the move or will he stay in Memphis?
Is Rudy Gay on the move or will he stay in Memphis?Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If the Memphis Grizzlies have any intentions of competing for an NBA title, they have to keep Rudy Gay on the roster.

Gay leads the Grizzlies in points per game with 17.8 as well as in minutes with around 36 per night, but has the fifth-best PER on the team. Gay has not been shooting very well at all this season and if the season ended today, he’d set career lows in shooting percentage and three-point percentage.

What has Memphis hesitant on keeping Gay around is the fact that he has the second-largest contract on the team behind Zach Randolph. Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports that the Grizzlies have shopped him around this season:

It is true that Griz brass has spoken to every team in the NBA about their roster over the past month. That league tour by the team’s new management has produced daily rumors about possible deals, most of which involve Gay.

What doesn’t make sense about this situation is that although Memphis may not want to have to pay Gay's tax penalty this summer, the Grizzlies are currently fourth in the Western Conference and have just as many wins as any team in the Eastern Conference—including the Miami Heat and New York Knicks.

Needless to say, the Grizzlies are serious contenders. One would assume that Memphis is extremely close to going all the way after losing in the first round of the NBA playoffs last season and in the semifinals the year prior.

Putting a championship-caliber team on the court would mean keeping Gay, as a trade would likely only help Memphis in the long-term and not necessarily in the short-term. But Tillery does report that Memphis isn’t going to just take any deal involving Gay, which is smart on the part of the Grizzlies: "It’s also true that the Griz have shown no desire to simply give away their top talent, according to sources with knowledge of the team’s mild trade discussions."

The Grizzlies aren’t going to find a reasonable deal that’s going to help them win in 2012-13. Keeping Gay is their only option and Sam Amick of Fox Sports Ohio reports that they are starting to realize that:

There was a time, and not long ago, that the Memphis Grizzlies seemed determined to trade talented small forward Rudy Gay. But that time, according to league sources, has passed. Now, the Grizzlies seem ready to march forward with what they have, revisit things at the trading deadline in February, or even more likely, over the summer.

The latter of those options would obviously be after the playoffs where the Grizzlies could come out victorious. Memphis has already taken down many of the top teams in the NBA and has also been one of the streakier teams in the league.

All Memphis has to do is get hot at the right time and the NBA title could be all theirs. However, that’s only going to happen if they keep Gay—which they seem to be keen on doing.

With Gay, Memphis is a contender. Without him, though, the team's chances are more up in the air.