NBA: What does Rudy Gay's Injury Mean For the Memphis Grizzlies' Playoff Hopes?

Stephen PattersonCorrespondent IFebruary 16, 2011

PHOENIX - DECEMBER 08:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns  at US Airways Center on December 8, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

After it was announced earlier today that Rudy Gay would be out at least four weeks with a partially dislocated shoulder, the first thing that ran through my mind was the season was over for the Memphis Grizzlies, as far as postseason hopes were concerned.

As bright as everything had been for the team moving forward just 24 hours ago, it seemed like all of it had just been taken away with the disheartening news of the injury.

But after thinking about it for several minutes, I decided the news wasn't quite as bad as it first sounded.

As long as the rest of the team continues to play on the same level they have been over the past few weeks, and as long as they don't let Gay's absence bother them too much, Memphis should still be in the playoff hunt upon his return.

While the Grizzlies will clearly miss Gay's leadership on the court—as well as the 19.8 PPG he has been averaging this season—the team does have several options to fill his shoes for the short term.

After all, one week out of the four is being spent on the All-Star break, so hopefully Gay will only miss three weeks of actual games with the injury.

I'd expect head coach Lionel Hollins to start Tony Allen in the small forward spot during that span, but he could put O.J. Mayo back in the starting lineup and slide Sam Young over to the small forward spot.

Hollins also has DeMarre Carroll on the bench, who has played very sparingly so far this season. He will likely see some additional playing time with Gay's absence.

Another option the Grizzlies will almost certainly pursue is the possibility of making a trade during the next week to acquire another small forward.

The team has long been rumored to be shopping Hasheem Thabeet, and while they supposedly haven't been actively trying to move Mayo, Memphis could try to move one or both of them in an attempt to acquire another forward.

As long as the Grizzlies can keep their heads above water during the next few weeks and try to keep their record around .500 or better, I think Memphis will be right in the middle of the postseason hunt upon Gay's return.