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Ranking the Best Trade Destinations for Rudy Gay

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Ranking the Best Trade Destinations for Rudy Gay
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Memphis Grizzlies small forward Rudy Gay is the biggest name being bandied around the trade market so far this season. The former UConn standout has had his name mentioned in rumored trades for quite some time and talks will continue to heat up as the trade deadline approaches.

As of Jan. 16, the Grizzlies are 24-12 and fourth in the Western Conference standings. Gay is the team's leading scorer (17.8 points per game) and one of the cornerstones of a franchise with legit championship aspirations.

So, why is Gay's name being passed around in trades, you may ask? 

The biggest motivation to deal Gay would be money. The 26-year-old is due close to $37 million over the next two seasons and that doesn't include the $16.4 million he's set to make this year. With the Grizzlies under new ownership, there is a sudden need to trim payroll in order to avoid the dreaded luxury tax.

Another potential reason is the success the team has had previously without Gay. The best postseason run the Grizzlies have had in their franchise's history came during the 2010-11 season, when they made the Conference Semifinals with Gay on the shelf.

The Grizzlies haven't officially come out and said Gay is available. In fact, Robert Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, citing a source, reports that Gay is likely to remain with the team through the end of the season.

"The message to Gay at the moment is that if he is dealt by the league's Feb. 21 trade deadline, then the Grizz will have been offered a no-brainer scenario." Tillery wrote.

That makes a Gay deal possible, but not imminent. As expected, teams looking for someone with Gay's versatile talents have been lining up to throw their names in the hat.

There are a number of teams vying for Gay's services. To look into this matter further, I've ranked the best possible destinations for the Grizzlies star forward.

For the most part, these are teams who have been linked as a possible landing spot for Gay (with the exception of a couple teams that I believed should and could make a reasonable deal). Teams like the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors, while intriguing, didn't make sense as potential trade partners.

With the Grizzlies having a legit shot at a title, why would they deal one of their best players to one of their top competitors?

Alas, here are the six best possible destinations for Memphis Grizzlies small forward Rudy Gay.

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