If you’ve been following the NBA or the Grizzlies at all, then you’ll know that Memphis forward Rudy Gay is one of the major trade targets in the offseason for a number of teams. Grizzlies’ fans are more than happy to trade him, but only if we get pieces back which help us win now. This is the second installment of our Rudy Gay Trade-a-Thon wherein the SOV writers offer up various trade proposals. Click here for the others.
The Good: The Grizzlies, presumably losing OJ Mayo to free agency – and possibly either Marreese Speights or Darrell Arthur as well – are going to need scoring, and they’re going to need it bad. DeMar DeRozan, like Rudy Gay, is a guy who still has loads of potential to be a great NBA scorer. DeRozan is still 22 years old, with three NBA seasons under his belt. Coming in to a Grizzlies team where he’s got somewhat limited expectations – Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will remain the primary engines of the offense – could allow him to focus on scoring off the bench and upping his defensive game, rather than shouldering the expectations of greatness that will, presumably, follow Rudy Gay from Memphis to Toronto.
Ed Davis is a player likely to be included in this deal – in fact, SBNation reported this morning that the Raptors are basing the package they’re expected to offer for Gay around Davis – which I’m fine with; Davis has played two years, averaging a PER of 15 and 10.5 points, 10.3 rebounds per 36 minutes. At 6’10" and 225 lbs, he’s got the size to become a nightmare wing at the PF – that’s an inch and ten pounds bigger than Kevin Durant.
The third piece in a deal from Toronto would have to be their pick in this year’s NBA Draft – the Raptors have the 8th pick – which the Grizzlies could use to take someone like Jeremy Lamb, Kendall Marshall, or some other player that would fill the Grizzlies’ most pressing needs: outside scoring off the bench or a good backup point guard. Toronto would probably want (and receive) the Grizzlies' 25th pick in return.
The Bad: So far DeRozan’s career, much like that of Rudy Gay, has been one of "he could be a superstar if he gets it together," rather than "he is going to be a superstar." He’s a scorer, and a good player, but it remains to be seen whether he’s going to develop into a serious NBA threat, or if he’s just an athletic guy who never fully developed. The worst case scenario for DeRozan in Memphis is this year’s OJ Mayo – a great player who you know can do good things if he just got his mojo working… but he never quite does. DeRozan’s defense isn’t anything special either; he’d need to get the Tony Allen bootcamp treatment that Mayo got to become an elite defender, and maybe he doesn’t have that level of desire. Rudy certainly seems to lack it
most some of the time.
Also, for what it’s worth, Ed Davis has attempted exactly one (1) three point shot in his NBA career. He didn’t make it. That’s not going to help the Grizzlies a bit on the perimeter. That said, the guy was a McDonald’s All American, so we know he’s a good basketball player, and he’s still got a lot of time to develop.
The eight pick would be great… but we all know what can happen with Grizzlies draft picks.
Why Toronto Makes This Trade: The Raptors need a wing, and they need one bad. They also need to get a "name" player on their team, a hot young player they can build around. They’re willing to gamble that a change of scenery will give Gay the motivation he needs to step up his game, after this summer of working out with Team USA. They don’t want to build around DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani, and they have Jonas Valanciunas coming over from Lithuania, and Gay would give them the "star power" they need and a versatile scoring wing.
The Bottom Line: I like this trade. It turns Rudy Gay’s $15mil contract into two players making $5mil total, with two years left on DeRozan’s deal and three left on Davis’ contract. The eight pick can be used to pick up another shooting guard in Jeremy Lamb or to swipe Kendall Marshall to be a backup point guard, allowing Josh Selby to slide over to the backup at the 2. Having Davis around couldn’t hurt either, and it would allow us to make moves to keep either Arthur, Speights, or both (and maybe Hamed Haddadi as well).
The things that give me pause are (1) uncertainty about where DeRozan’s ceiling is along with (2) the fact that this deal puts us right back where we were in 2009–2010 with too damn many wing players. But for one year, I think you make the trade to turn Rudy into pieces you need to win now. The roster will shake itself out in training camp and the early season. A starting five of Conley-DeRozan-Allen-Randolph-Gasol ain’t half bad, and a "second unit" of Marshall-Selby-Pondexter with some combination of Arthur, Speights, Cunningham and Haddadi would be stronger than Gilbert Arenas on one leg or OJ Mayo’s poor ballhandling against the press.
(Notice I’ve left Davis out of that second unit because I don’t know where he would fit in; I presume Chris Wallace might turn him into something else or an expiring contract by making the trade into a three-teamer.)
Would you do this deal?