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What is Rudy Gay's Sign and Trade Value?

Don't be alarmed Rudy Gay fans, but the Memphis Commercial Appeal might already be shopping one of the Grizzlies best players:

The Grizzlies haven't discussed that scenario as it relates to restricted free agent Rudy Gay. But [sign and trade] remains an option should Gay receive a contract offer sheet that is more than the Griz are willing to match.

Stupid to worry about when the first sentence reads that they haven't been discussing any deals, but what can you do when everything else thinks Rudy leaving is a foregone conclusion? Take The New York Daily News, who is talking Tony Parker after the Spurs loss, and somehow Rudy Gay got wrapped up in the mix: 

Another scenario is the Knicks recruiting a third team to complete a deal. The Spurs, who were just swept by the Suns in the second round, want to get more athletic and are said to be interested in restricted free agent forward Rudy Gay.

For some reason I'm not sure that the Knicks or the Spurs have the assets to make a deal involving Rudy and a Finals MVP happen. So here's a question worth pondering, just what is Rudy Gay's trade value?

The sorry answer is probably much less than his actual basketball value -- take at the last few deals for similar players:

Kevin Martin and filler for Carl Landry and Kenny Thomas's expiring contract - Kevin Martin might be just about a perfect comparison for Rudy. K-Mart's been more productive, but Rudy now as a near-winning season under his belt and isn't constantly injured.

In return the Kings got 6th man of the year candidate and highly-serviceable power forward Carl Landry, plus about $9 million in cap space. That's pretty valuable during the summer of 2010, although it wouldn't really apply in a sign-and-trade scenario. 

Joe Johnson for Boris Diaw and 2 first round picks - Joe Johnson was coming off a sick season, but never had experience as either a point guard or number one option, which was why Atlanta wanted him. They paid a pretty nice price, too, with those 2 first rounders having a decent shot at turning up in the lottery.

Could Rudy Gay get the Grizzlies two first rounders and another near-starter? Maybe. If the Timberwolves were willing to swing Corey Brewer with several picks -- probably better than the long delays and protections on the Hawks picks -- the Grizz would certainly have to consider, given the value of T-Wolves draft selections.

Tracy McGrady for 1st Round Pick - Bear in mind a few things here, first, that this is evidence that a talented player (albeit a high-school draftee) can grow even after his rookie contract. Second, if the player demands a trade, then you're in trouble. Finally, if you sign-and-trade for just draft picks, you're unlikely to get fair value in return.

Rashard Lewis for 2nd Round Pick - This is a completely different kind of sign and trade, the kind where you've lost the bidding war in free agency and are merely facilitating that 6th year on the contract. This type of sign-and-trade is, of course, the worst for the franchise. The Magic were giving Rashard a maximum contract either way, one the Supersonics would never match, so all three parties hammered out a policy to give a little extra back to the Sonics and to 'Shard. 

Neither this nor the Tracy McGrady type of contract seems likely, as long as Heisley stays true to his word and attempts to keep Rudy Gay. Rudy has said he's happy in Memphis, and while that's been questioned, Rudy's interest certainly has not been questioned to the extent of T-Mac's discontent in Toronto or Rashard Lewis's reaction to the Ray Allen trade.

If the Grizzlies were to explore a sign-and-trade, it likely would not be out of necessity, where their bargaining position is compromised. Instead, they have every opportunity to keep Gay -- even if they'd rather go in another direction -- and can force teams to pay for him. Given the extent of cap-space out there, inducing a bidding war also seems possible, which could actually make the haul for Rudy even better than any of these past deals.