4 NBA Teams That Must Make a Play for Rudy Gay

Preston DeGarmoAnalyst IJanuary 18, 2013

4 NBA Teams That Must Make a Play for Rudy Gay

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    After spending the first six seasons of his NBA career with the Memphis Grizzlies, Rudy Gay may soon be on his way out of town. Gay has been surprisingly inefficient this season, and Memphis seems to have arrived at the conclusion that their leading scorer is expendable.

    Although Gay doesn't seem to have improved all that much over the course of his career and is struggling to shoot the ball this season, he still has great value due to his scoring ability and athleticism. A number of teams, some struggling to rebuild and others contending for the playoffs, could use a player like Gay to bolster the roster. But which teams have both the reason and the assets to make a serious run at Gay?

Toronto Raptors

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    The Toronto Raptors have been fairly open about their interest in acquiring Gay, but it's unclear whether the team has the assets necessary to land the star swingman. 

    The Grizzlies are unlikely to give up Gay without getting some skilled perimeter players in return, and as a result it seems likely that Memphis would demand either DeMar DeRozan or Terrence Ross from the Raptors in any package for Gay. Though such an option would certainly be worth exploring for Toronto, Gay isn't necessarily a significant upgrade over the improving DeRozan, and Ross has shown promising flashes of potential thus far in his first season. 

    Toronto's biggest trade priority should be finding a way to get rid of Andrea Bargnani, and the Grizzlies are certainly not the solution to that problem. Still, Gay could be a nice addition for a team struggling to climb back into the playoffs.

Phoenix Suns

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    The Phoenix Suns are a team desperately searching for direction and in need of some serious roster changes. After the Suns already decided to part ways with head coach Alvin Gentry, it seems likely they will emerge as active participants at the trade deadline. 

    One of Phoenix's most glaring problems at the moment is their lack of a go-to scorer. Though Michael Beasley was brought in this summer to fill that role, he has been a major disappointment this season and has practically fallen out of the rotation. 

    Gay would fit snugly into the role originally meant for Beasley, as he packs much of the same scoring punch, just far more consistently. Gay would fit in well with a young, fast-paced Suns team, and would help to provide this team with a core for the future alongside Goran Dragić. 

    In order to acquire Gay, the Suns would likely have to package Jared Dudley and either Wesley Johnson or Channing Frye alongside future draft picks, and perhaps a young prospect like Kendall Marshall. 

Utah Jazz

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    The Utah Jazz are a rare team that struggles with being too deep, at least in the post. Utah's well-chronicled logjam at the power forward and center positions may soon be cleared up, though, as the Jazz are likely to trade either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap at the trade deadline this year. 

    Regardless of which player they choose to deal, the Jazz will want to remain competitive immediately after the trade, and as a result should take a serious look at Rudy Gay. Unfortunately, he may be a tricky player for them to land. 

    The Jazz would need to find a third team to participate in any deal for Gay, as Utah's two premier trade chips, Jefferson and Millsap, would be redundant on a Memphis roster that already boasts two All-Star caliber big men. However, there are plenty of teams around the league that could use an elite big man, so it seems fairly plausible that the Jazz and Grizzlies could work out a deal to land Gay in Utah and a cheaper perimeter option in Memphis. 

Boston Celtics

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    The Boston Celtics have had a fairly mediocre season by their standards, and in the interest of competing both now and in the future, should be highly interested in pursuing a trade for Rudy Gay.

    Though Gay isn't much of an upgrade over Pierce today, he is nine years younger and would bring much-needed athleticism to this slow Celtics team. And while he has struggled shooting the ball this season, his scoring ability remains nearly on par with Pierce's, meaning Boston wouldn't lose any significant production from the small forward spot.

    The Grizzlies would also benefit from such a swap, as Pierce's experience and ability to create on offense would do wonders for the club come playoff time.