Last year, in the midst of their magical playoff run, people said, “The Grizzlies should trade Rudy Gay — they don’t need him.” During the offseason, pundits, sports radio and fans alike continued to say similar things. Then, the season started and Zach Randolph, the main cog of last season’s success, went down with an injury. Suddenly, Rudy Gay wasn’t just another player — he was the team’s best player once again. And what happened? Interestingly enough…the team kept winning at the same pace they were on last year without Rudy and with Zach.
From a cap perspective, the Grizzlies’ biggest problem is that they overpaid a lot for Rudy Gay, and this contract is going to limit their flexibility for years to come. He’d be precisely the kind of player I would try to trade while he still has the perception of being “a star”, but somehow I doubt that Grizzlies’ management will agree with my assessment.
Well, Michael Heisley and Chris Wallace might not be listening to him, but I am. So, if we assume that Rudy is overpaid (a reasonable conclusion) and that the Grizzlies would be just as good without him (quite a bit more of a stretch), then what should they get for him? Here’s what I’ve come up with.
Memphis gets: Gerald Wallace, Marcus Camby
Portland gets: Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights
Gerald Wallace is relentless. That’s the only way I know to describe him. Not a great shooter, but a do-everything guy who would fit in on this grit & grind team — while costing half as much as Rudy. And Camby is still getting it done on the boards and in the paint — and on a sizable expiring contract, as well.
Memphis gets: Ray Allen, Jermaine O’Neal, Keyon Dooling
Boston gets: Rudy Gay, Jeremy Pargo
Ray Allen gives the Grizzlies a deadly outside shooter with a penchant for hitting big shots in clutch situations. He and Tony Allen can start on the wings against most teams without issue. Dooling is an upgrade as the backup PG. O’Neal is a serviceable big with an expiring contract. Oh, lookee there…all three of them are on expiring deals…totaling $18.4 million, which makes for a nice cushion full of potential come summertime.
Memphis gets: Mehmet Okur, Anthony Morrow, Shawne Williams
New Jersey gets: Rudy Gay
With Okur and Williams coming off the books at nearly $14 million combined, this would give the Grizzlies plenty of cap room to pursue a free agent or make a play for a big trade in the offseason. Morrow would give the Grizzlies a solid outside shooting threat and could make re-signing O.J. Mayo unnecessary.
Memphis gets: Caron Butler, Ryan Gomes, Chauncey Billups
Los Angeles gets: Rudy Gay, Jeremy Pargo, Sam Young
Much like the Portland trade, Memphis gets a SF who, while not quite as productive as Rudy, still costs half as much. Billups can back up both guard spots, freeing up a Mayo trade, and Gomes offers depth at both forward positions. Also, I’d just love to see CP3’s head explode trying to figure out who to throw the lob to on that new starting lineup. The mid-air collisions between Rudy, Blake and DeAndre would lead Sportscenter every night.
Memphis gets: Daniel Gibson, Tyler Hansbrough, Omri Casspi
Cleveland gets: Rudy Gay, George Hill
Indiana gets: Ramon Sessions, Marreese Speights, Sam Young
The reasoning: Psycho T is better than Speights, Gibson gives us another shooter, it frees up money to re-sign O.J. this offseason. I maintain that quality > quantity in the NBA, but if you want financial flexibility and some good role players, this is not the worst way to go.
As you can see, there’s no superstar in return for Rudy, but mostly just the plan for a poor man’s version of him at half the price with flexibility for the future. Of course, if the prevailing opinion is correct and “we don’t really need him”, then that’s exactly what we should be looking to do.
Stay tuned…because on Thursday we’re talking about who we should send Z-Bo to, since we apparently don’t need him either.