Phoenix Suns: Why Trading for Rudy Gay Would Be a Poor Decision

Ben Leibowitz@BenLeboCorrespondent IIIJanuary 8, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 12:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies walks off the court after being defeated 82-80 to the Phoenix Suns following the NBA game at US Airways Center on December 12, 2012 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

Very little has gone right for the Phoenix Suns this season. The team desperately needs a No. 1 scoring option to jumpstart the anemic offense beside an otherwise solid supporting cast. But trading for Memphis Grizzlies' forward Rudy Gay is not the answer the Suns need.

The Suns’ 12-23 record ranks them fifth worst in the entire NBA. Assuming the draft lottery stays to form, that would net the Suns the fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft. This would be the first time the Suns have had a top-five draft pick since 1987, when they drafted Armen Gilliam second overall.

In addition to that, the Suns (thanks to the Steve Nash sign-and-trade deal) have an unprotected first round pick provided by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Miraculously, despite having a great team on paper, the Lakers have also struggled to a 15-18 mark (11th in the Western Conference). If Kobe Bryant’s Lakers continue to struggle and miss the postseason, the Suns will net themselves another lottery pick in 2013.

The last time Phoenix had two top-14 picks in the first round was in 1988 when they drafted Tim Perry seventh overall and “Thunder” Dan Majerle 14th overall.

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Despite the seemingly bright future from high draft picks, the Suns’ front office is looking to jeopardize that tantalizing “what if” scenario of adding two high-end first rounders.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies are engaged in trade talks surrounding Gay. Reportedly, the Suns would give up veteran forward/guard Jared Dudley and future first-round draft picks (think possible lottery pick from the Lakers) for Gay, according to Wojnarowski.

For the Grizzlies, this deal would be tremendous for a couple of reasons. First off, Memphis would be able to avoid the looming luxury tax issues by shedding themselves of Gay’s massive contract. He’s due to make $16.4 million this season, $17.8 million in 2013-14 and $19.3 million in 2014-15.

Secondly, the Grizz would have the possibility of landing a lottery pick if the Lakers do indeed miss the playoffs.

But why would the Grizzlies want to trade Gay moving forward? They have a 22-10 record (good for a fourth seed in the Western Conference) and look like playoff contenders.

Well, apparently the Grizzlies are aware of the fact that Gay, despite making more than $16 million for the next three seasons, isn’t a No. 1 option on a championship team. They wouldn’t plan to trade him if they felt they had a legitimate title chance with him on board. With the hypothetical deal, they’d shed cap space, add a trusted veteran in Dudley and add a solid draft pick (perhaps draft picks, plural).

For the Suns, not only would they be giving up their most tenured player, a veteran leader and the all-out effort of Dudley, but they’d also sacrifice what could end up being a top-14 draft choice in a year where they may also end up with a top-five draft choice.

Gay is a proven scorer. His career average of 17.9 points per game is evidence of that. This season however, Gay is shooting a career low 40.8 percent from the field. His 5.8 rebounds per game is his lowest total since 2009, and his scoring average of 17.8 points per game is the lowest since his rookie year.

Gay is still relatively young at 26 years old. Nevertheless, he’s experiencing arguably his worst professional season so far in 2012-13. He’s not even close to being on the level of alpha dogs like Kevin Durant or Dirk Nowitzki, so he’s not worth the hefty price tag.

Personally, if I was the owner, I’d want the Suns to have the possibility of adding two lottery picks for next season. The team could add two young rookies that can grow and mature together, and they’d come at a much cheaper price combined than Gay, who is due a whopping $53.5 million from 2012-2015.

There’s no question that the Suns’ basketball outlook is bleak at the moment. Nobody likes losing. However, adding an overpaid player who has never made an All-Star appearance and is shooting at his worst clip ever would be a massive misfire to try and right the ship in Phoenix.

The Suns need to move forward with the unknown of young talent instead of rolling the dice on a guy who has never even appeared in an All-Star game over a seven year career.

Here’s hoping that the Suns preach patience instead of making a rash decision in the midst of losing. But don’t hold your breath Suns fans, because that’s not Phoenix’s strong suit.

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