The season is over, the Memphis Grizzlies are off "golfing" somewhere, as the story goes, and we're now left to let the summer drag out with plenty of rationalization, reason and, more importantly, speculation.
It appears as if the Grizzlies are open and willing to make a major move this offseason, as long as it doesn't mean "starting over." You won't find them shipping off both Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay for future pieces. They're going at it over the next 4-5 years (and beyond?), and one, if not both of those players are going to be a part of the equation. Now, is it possible that they move one of them? Absolutely. Is it also possible that they let O.J. Mayo walk? Most definitely. But for now it's going to be a period of deep reflection for Chris Wallace, Lionel Hollins and company.
The Mayo saga will be an interesting one. There was a point where it seemed as if he had played his way out of Memphis, warranting a contract far too rich for our taste. And seeing as the team has done everything in its power to try and move him over the last few seasons, it's not as if they're going to dig deep and pay for him to stay. That said, he didn't do himself any favors during the playoffs. In Games 3-7 he averaged just 5 points per game, shooting 6-of-34 from the floor. That from a scoring guard off the bench, a player who received 6th Man of the Year votes. He did not help his cause. So, should the price be right... but, to be honest, this is the NBA. Meaning, someone is going to dig deep into their pockets (the Brooklyn Nets?) and give him far too much money. I imagine.And Mayo has already indicated that he's looking beyond, with his "I want to play point guard" quote.
Now, as for Rudy Gay...
The case for Gay is simple: come at "us" with an offer we can't refuse, and he's all yours. The key here is money. Matching contracts and talent is a real issue in the NBA. If you were just looking at contract-for-contract, take a look at the 30 highest paid players in the league, to which Gay comes in at No. 24. The list is filled with untouchables and undesirables. Now, that's the simplest, most basic, never-gonna-happen scenario. In most instances you look to add multiple players, multiple teams, trade exceptions, draft picks, and on. The holdup is, though, not that Gay is going to make $16 million next year, but that he's going to make $52 million over the next three years. A bit much, wouldn't you say, for a player who s'd the bed in the first round of the playoffs?
So while there will be, and have already been, calls for the Grizzlies to shop Gay around, there's no simple solution here. Do you want the likes of a (hypothetically speaking) Carlos Boozer or Joe Johnson? Or would something like a Ben Gordon and Austin Daye deal move you enough to get it done? Maybe. But don't think that in moving Rudy Gay we're going to get a Tyreke Evans talent in return. Or, maybe worded better, a young player who needs a change of scenery.
Let me say this, too, it's not that I want them to trade Rudy. I would be perfectly content if they could somehow talk him into a little soul-searching session to where he recognizes his true talents and realizes that he needs to be a leader on this team, not a follower, and play to his strengths, his realized strengths, and not his perceived strengths. If that happened, please, I would welcome him back with open arms. But, do we say that happening? Well...
The offseason is going to be interesting, and there will be some major moves made. One which may include the trading of Rudy Gay and the loss of Mayo. But, I don't see this getting blown up in a way that puts us back at square one.
Even if you just started the team next season with Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Tony Allen and went from there, I think it's safe to say we're in pretty good shape.
Keep your heads up, Grizzlies fans.