Analyzing the Cleveland Trade

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

After weeks of talking, the Grizzlies finally made a trade. While it wasn't the sexiest move of all time, it wasn't as poor as it looks on the surface.

Editor's note: If you've spent any amount of time on this site, nightstallion should be familiar to you already. He's always contributing in the comments and writing FanPosts like this one. Well, now he's officially a contributor. So, on this crazy trade-laden day, give him a big SOV welcome! --KL

Welp, we got what we wanted. We’re currently under the tax threshold and the core four get one more chance at a deep playoff run and a shot at the title.

The Grizzlies traded Rain Wayne Ellington, Marreese Speights, Josh Selby, and a 2015 lottery protected pick (no seriously, we included a pick, willingly) for Jon Laeur Leuer. (Go check all the different stories and tweets. It was even misspelled on hoopshype.com.) It was purely a salary dump; saving us around $6 million and getting us under the dreaded luxury tax that new owner Robert Pera clearly was not going to pay. But the question has to be asked, and inevitably it will be, so lets go ahead and ask it: Is this a better move than some of the scenarios we’ve seen for a Rudy Gay trade?

That’s pretty tough to answer right now, because this was (hopefully) a precursor to more moves in the not too distant future. That being said, if I’m John Hollinger, and this is the first trade I’ve ever made as a member of an NBA team’s front office, I’m pretty embarrassed. We sent 3 players and a draft pick for one guy. That’s not necessarily a bad formula. If this were a Dwight Howard trade or a move for LeBron James, you’d almost certainly see something of that nature. Speights and Ellington are good role players, but they are far from superstars or world-beaters. Speights has a terrible +/-, something our new front office outlook is very high on, and rightfully so, and Wayne was averaging 5 points a game on 40% shooting. Josh Selby was a second round draft pick, but was clearly wasting away on the bench with Lionel Hollins. The 2015 pick is lottery protected, and unless everything that could possibly go wrong goes wrong, we shouldn’t be anywhere near the lottery in 2015, so that’s not terrible. But the fact that we gave ALL of that up for a guy who’s name several credible NBA websites and sources couldn’t get right? A guy whose played less minutes than Josh Selby? That’s a pretty one-sided trade, and just looking at it that way makes it seem pretty awful. Yes, it gets us under the tax, but as far as trades go, lets just be honest, that one sucked. (Also, with as bad as the East is, it will be interesting to see if Cleveland can play spoiler to some teams down the stretch. I don’t think they can make up enough ground to make the 8th seed, but I do think they will be good enough to hurt some teams chances of getting in.)

And to be fair, I should note that John Hollinger is VERY high on John Leuer. He had him ranked as his 4th best big man coming out in 2011, and reportedly thinks he’s getting a steal. (Has there ever been a deal in history that was 3 bench players and a pick for a white guy that’s never really played serious minutes in the NBA that was considered a steal?!) But in any case, if history has taught us anything, it’s that Hollinger knows a little bit more than almost everyone else about basketball.

But we all know (hope) that this trade isn’t over. It can’t be. We literally don’t have enough players to play a game, legally, under NBA rules. Now, I’ll be honest. I don’t think there’s anything worse than a fat Bill Walker, a Delonte West that’s had time to think, and an anytime Sasha Vujacic. Seriously. If we sign Vujacic, I’m going to boo him relentlessly at all home games. But the point is, we have space and flexibility to make roster moves for veteran guys who special in 3 point shooting, defense, and any and all other areas of need for this team.

Also, we’ve got a $6.4 million trade exception. I can’t help but notice that JJ Redick makes under $6.4 million this year. Now, I doubt we end up with him, because let’s face it, we don’t really have any other assets for trades. But we do have a nice trade exception that we can and probably will use going forward. So there is potential.

But let’s go back to the original question: is this deal better than any trade scenario we saw that would have had us sending away Rudy Gay? Would we rather have had Gerald Wallace, Marshon Brooks, and a pick? What about MKG, Ramon Sessions, and a pick, and Jerryd Bayless off the team? Would any of those deals not have been better?

It’s really tough to say, because we don’t know what we are going to end up with at the other end of this deal. We might get JJ Redick. We might stumble onto a couple of grizzled veterans who come in and play really, really well. There may be a really good player out there that hasn’t even come across any trade radars who can shoot the three really well. There are lots of possibilities open.

One really intriguing possibility is that, hopefully, we are going to get to see what Tony Wroten can do in an NBA game. Right, Lionel? Right? Am I right? Lionel….?

From this point on, we should proceed with caution though. Don’t be so quick to label this as the worst trade ever, because it’s not. It’s not great, but it leaves lots of room for potential. Tread softly, Darrell Arthur, because if your glass body gets hurt, we’re kind of screwed. Take it nice and slow, Quincy Pondexter, because we can’t have you rush back from injury and not be any good. Don’t make any rash decisions, front office, because I will no joke do something absurd and foolish if I see Sasha Vujacic in a Grizzlies jersey.

And of course, it doesn’t mean that Rudy Gay is staying put. Now that we are well under the tax, and we don’t have team get under it, and teams know we don’t have to get under it, the deals for Rudy Gay, and unfortunately Zach Randolph will only improve. I’ve heard a couple deals that peaked my interest, so I’m decently excited about the ones still to come. The offense has to get better, guys. No team has ever one an NBA title while being the 29th ranked offense in the league.

But at this point, we kept our core together. (Until the summer at least) We have a healthy Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, and Marc Gasol to make a deep playoff run. We get to keep the bulk of the team together, but we don’t have any semblance of a bench behind them. There’s still a very long month left to go before the trade deadline. We don’t know much about what’s going to happen, but we do know this, the team is not currently intact as it will definitely look after the trade deadline. So if we’re forced to grade the trade, its sitting at a D-, and that’s pretty good for a pure salary dump, but if we end up signing a few veterans who can improve our offense and make us a better all around team for less than we were paying Wayne and Mo, then the grade can and will go up. For now, it got us what we all wanted, the core four staying together. Let’s just hope that really is what’s best.

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