Despite a lot of noise from Memphis saying the Grizzlies aren’t going to trade Rudy Gay before the deadline, his name remains the busiest one as we approach the final day for deals, with the Toronto Raptors looking like the team closest to getting the six year veteran.
The main reason for looking to trade Gay is money. Along with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, the trio will eat up more than $50 million of the Grizzlies cap space, something that will obviously push them above the luxury tax they don’t want to hit. Despite not really wanting to break up their core trio and still believing them to be the key to challenging for an NBA title, the day they’re broken up isn’t too far away.
The Grizzlies do feel that their biggest strength is their strength in the paint, while Gay, averaging 17.2 points per game this season (lowest since his rookie season) while shooting a career low 40.8% from the field, isn’t holding up his end of the bargain. Instead of being the offensive star and bonus on a team that’s based on great defense, he’s dragged down by mediocrity, not giving the team what they expect from star-quality contracts.
The Toronto Raptors aren’t heading anywhere in their current lineup, especially not with Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon; a failed expirement. Bargnani, a former number one draft pick, has turned into somewhat of a persona non-grata in Toronto, with his numbers and efforts drastically dropping this season. He’s owed $10.8 million for next season, and there’s an early termination clause on his contract for the 2014-2015 season which will obviously be used by the Raptors and probably most teams, with $11.5 million to be paid to him that season.
Jose Calderon is another player the Raptors are trying to dump. His $10.5 million per season contract ends this year, and the Raptors are trying to move him to get something out of this value before he leaves for free. Calderon has been in and out of the starting lineup this season because of Kyle Lowry, who has a much more movable contract than Bargnani, earning only $6 million next season. He’s averaging 13.5 points per game this season.
The question is if Lowry, who began his career with Memphis, is the answer and the upgrade the Grizzlies are looking for. Sure, he’s not a serious blow to take, but does his arrival add anything to the team beyond Mike Conley Jr. Surely Calderon, who might be a great player to have coming off the bench this season already, is a better suit to make a possible change in style between units and clear cap space when the season ends.
Still, according to sources around the league, it’s unlikely Gay will eventually be traded. If he is, Toronto might be the most likeliest of his next destinations.