Rudy Gay: Trading Forward Set Scary Precedent for Where Grizzlies' Future Lies

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2013

Feb 3, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Raptors forward Rudy Gay (22) plays defense against Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) at the Air Canada Centre. The Heat beat the Raptors 100-85. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera could be sending the Memphis Grizzlies down a very troubling path.

It's understandable that the Grizzlies had to part ways with Rudy Gay at some point in the future. He was on a ridiculous contract that was given under the previous ownership.

The organization was always going to hit a reckoning point with Gay. His contract would have thrown the Grizzlies over a financial cliff.

One rightful point of contention, though, is the timing of the trade.

By unloading Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and Marreese Speights on the Cleveland Cavaliers, Memphis was able to ease quite a bit of the financial burden. It seems trading Gay during the season was a rather unnecessary move.

The early returns of the trade haven't been promising. Memphis has gone 1-3 since the move. Of course, the newest players could just need a little more time to gel with the existing team.

In the aftermath of the trade, some have been giving Gay more credit than he deserves this year. He isn't a star in the league, and he was having one of his worst seasons with the Grizzlies.

While Gay was underachieving this year and playing very inefficient basketball, you can't discard the kind of chemistry he had helped to build in the Memphis locker room. All that has been thrown aside by Grizzlies management.

Putting finances over winning is nothing new to the NBA.

Donald Sterling was perfectly happy to have the Los Angeles Clippers wallow in mediocrity while he laughed all the way to the bank. That's one of the more extreme cases.

One of the more pertinent cases to Memphis' situation would be that of Robert Sarver and the Phoenix Suns.

To a certain extent, you can't knock Sarver too much. It's his team, and he can do with it as he chooses. Having some spending restrictions could help the team in the long term as it helps to avoid unfavorable contracts.

The Suns were one of the most successful teams over the entirety of the 2000s, building around the core of Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire.

At the end of the day, though, Sarver was unwilling to make the kind of financial commitment that would have pushed the Suns over the top. He set a definite salary ceiling for Phoenix's front office, and there was very little chance it would be eclipsed.

This could very well be the same route Pera could take with the Grizzlies.

Memphis isn't a big market, and Pera doesn't have the kind of financial clout that some other owners in the league have. At the end of the day, though, sometimes it's necessary to spend a little bit more in order to fuel that push for a title.

Grizzles fans deserve to have Pera sacrifice a bit financially with a view of helping the on-court product in the short term.