Rudy Gay is a valuable part of the Memphis Grizzlies, some may even say their MVP.
So why are the Grizzlies seemingly in a rush to trade the 6-foot-8 forward?
It doesn’t seem to make much sense, especially when you consider the Grizzlies are 22-10 and own the fourth-best record in the West.
But the quick and easy answer is Gay’s contract. He is due to earn more than $16 million this season, more than $17 million next, and more than $19 million in 20014-15.
So if you’re wondering whether the 2011 lockout would make an impact, look no further than the Grizzlies’ situation with Gay. They’re playing well and winning, but apparently not enough to pay the hefty increase in luxury tax, which kicks in at season’s end.
That luxury tax is part of the new collective-bargaining agreement, which was reached just more than a year ago. At the time, a lot of fans and reporters wondered what the lockout was all about. Well, again, this is it.
As for actually trading Gay, multiple reports state the Grizzlies have engaged in exploratory talks with everyone from Phoenix to Golden State to Sacramento.
League sources have confirmed to FOX Sports Ohio that the Grizzlies are indeed having conversations with other teams, but indicated most of the talks are being generated by the Grizzlies, and not other teams. In other words, Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace is seemingly making calls, but not necessarily taking them.
That may explain the reports involving the Suns, who are about $6.4
million under the salary cap. However, the Suns may not have enough to
offer in return when it comes to actual talent on the roster. While the
Grizzlies want to shed Gay’s salary, they are also looking to improve
the team, sources said — either via immediate help or first-round draft
“Familiarity is not enough to win games,” Wallace told FOX Sports Ohio earlier this season. “But coupled with big-game experience, it can help you. You try to be good in every area, but not many teams have every box checked off. We feel we’re getting close.”
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies’ discussions with the Warriors supposedly have fallen flat, according to the Contra Costa Times.
“The talks didn’t produced much as Memphis is not interested in taking the Warriors’ less-desirable contracts (such as Richard Jefferson) and the Grizzlies want what the Warriors don’t have,” the newspaper reported.
Cleveland has the most available room under the salary cap, as well as the array of draft picks and young players the Grizzlies are supposedly seeking. However, the Grizzlies and Cavs have not had any talks involving Gay, a source said, before adding Memphis is not likely interested in anything Cleveland might be willing to offer.
Gay, 26, is a borderline All-Star and averaging 17.8 points and 5.8 rebounds this season. On top of being an all-around talent, he has a reputation for durability. He missed just one game last season, and other than 2010-11, he has never missed more than three in any year during his six-year career.
“He can get to a sweet spot on floor and elevate, and he has a high-release point on his shot,” Wallace said. “When things aren’t going well, we can get him the ball and just sort of let him go.”
Gay averaged 10.8 points his rookie season (2006-07), but has averaged no less than 19 points and 5.5 rebounds any year since.
He is a career 45 percent shooter, including 35 percent on three-pointers, and is hitting a career-best 81 percent from the free-throw line this season.