Laker Rumors: L.A. Should Take in Caution in Dealing for Rudy Gay

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIJanuary 29, 2013

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 2:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies takes a shot over Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics during the game on January 2, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. 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 Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Lakers are still trying to work out their kinks, the Grizzlies are still trying to shed money and the Celtics are blowing things up. Put it all together and you get a very fascinating Lakers rumor.

ESPN's Marc Stein posted an interesting article today in which he theorizes a three-way trade where Paul Pierce heads to Memphis, Pau Gasol goes to Boston and Los Angeles lands Rudy Gay.

At first glance it makes a lot of sense.

First off, the Lakers would shed Pau Gasol. The talented power forward just isn't cutting it in D'Antoni's system and needs to be moved.

Second, it would land L.A. a very talented small forward and scorer in Rudy Gay. The extra offensive punch would help spread the floor and balance out the Lakers.

But those are just surface level observations. We need to dig a little deeper to see that this might not be the best trade for the Lakers.

First off, Rudy Gay—despite what his sizable contract may tell you—is not an NBA All-Star.

Is he a solid small forward? Yes. Is he a scoring threat? Absolutely. Does he have the consistency to be a top-five player at his position? That's arguable.

Gay exploded onto the seen in 2007/08, but his stats have never looked the same since. He looked to be peaking in 2010/11, and has been on the decline since.

This season, Gay's points, steals and assists per game, as well as his shooting percentage, have all declined from the year before. The same stats have been declining since that 2010/11 campaign.

The most interesting thing about that 2010/11 season—in which Gay scored 19.8 points per game—was that he shot a career high 39.6 percent on three-pointers.

That number took a hit last season, and this year he's shooting a career low 30.1 percent.

Gay's potential has always been there, but at 26 years old his stats are already on the decline. He can add some punch to a team, but all-in-all the small forward has peaked.

That, in some respects, is okay for the Lakers. They need a role player on offense—someone who fits into the system without vying for the spotlight—and Gay fits that mold.

But there is one big kicker to this whole trade, and it's something the Lakers need to avoid.

Memphis wants to dump salary, which is why it's willing to unload Gay. He'll make about $53 million over his next three seasons.

Now take into consideration that the Lakers would most likely want to retain the services of Dwight Howard after this season, and you have a problem.

L.A.'s payroll is already at the $100 million threshold this season. Adding the contract of Rudy Gay—on top of what would be an inevitable max contract to Dwight Howard—is going to be tough on the books.

The Lakers need to move Pau Gasol, but more importantly they need to retain Dwight Howard.

Rudy Gay may fit better in the D'Antoni equation, but he's not going to be the great equalizer that pushes this team into the top of the NBA rankings.

And his coming to L.A. could do more harm than good if it means losing out on keeping Dwight Howard.

This three way trade seems like a great thing, but it has the potential for disaster.


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