When sources say it’s imminent, apparently it’s imminent. Less than a day after rumors first surfaced regarding a Rudy-Gay-to-Toronto deal, Gay is headed to, you guessed it, Toronto, with Detroit the third team involved. ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting Memphis has sent Rudy Gay and Hamed Haddadi to Toronto for Jose Calderon and Ed Davis; then, Memphis is reportedly swinging Calderon to Detroit for Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye.
Yeah, this is huge, so let’s examine from all three sides.
The Memphis angle
You have to be excited at the long-term prospects here for the Grizz. Yes, you dump a 17.2 points per game career scorer with freakish athleticism and a clean bill of health. But Gay’s scoring below his career mark on a pretty crowded lineup with Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol — a nucleus that advanced Memphis within a game of the 2011 Western Conference Finals without Gay.
Gay averages more turnovers than assists over his career, has a fairly low PER of 14.4 — 158th in the league, third among players in this deal and a spot ahead of Antawn Jamison — and is barely shooting 40% from the field (and 31% from 3). And Gay’s owed $53 million through 2014-15.
Memphis, nonetheless, loses an above-average talent in Gay and a project in Haddadi, but gains a promising youngster in Ed Davis, who’s averaging 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per 24.2 minutes in his sophomore year. (Davis, 23, was a lottery pick out of North Carolina in 2010.)
The Grizzlies also acquired former NBA champion Tayshaun Prince, whose numbers — 11.7 points and 4.6 rebounds — are below his career marks across the board, except for 3-point percentage. And with Daye, who may wind up turning into an underrated aspect of this deal, the Grizzlies, known for a dearth of 3-point shooting, get a guy on an expiring deal who’s shooting at a 53% clip from 3 this year in limited action.
Interestingly, Gay’s deal comes less than two months after the Grizzlies hired former ESPN-er John Hollinger, known for inventing the PER rankings, as VP of basketball operations. Hollinger’s automated ESPN trade machine forecast shows the Grizzlies gaining 3 wins after the deal. Now I would not say the Grizzlies are a better team minus Gay, whose scoring they’ll likely miss, but between this deal and one with the Cavs last week, the Grizzlies avoid the luxury tax and save approximately $37 million over the next 3 years. Kudos.
The Toronto angle
The Raptors get a ticket-draw here with Gay, but not much else. The only pro they can point to here is ridding themselves of Jose Calderon’s contract, but that $10.5 million expires after this season! If the Raptors could have found a taker for Andrea Bargnani’s $33 million over the next 3 years, I’d be all for taking on Gay, but now, a team with $44 million already on the books for 2013-14, excluding Davis, is absorbing Gay’s $37 million over the next 2 years.
Toronto lost Davis, the team’s leading rebounder and one of two fascinating prospects alongside rookie Terrence Ross. Now, the Raptors are looking at a starting backcourt of Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, all freakish athletes who have similar styles of play — slashers who need the ball to be effective. Oh, and not much shooting — Gay’s shooting 31% from 3, DeRozan 25% and Lowry, whom I love, 39%. With Landry Fields struggling immensely, I’m not sure who Toronto can count on to hit an outside shot until Bargnani returns, and even then, he’s, much to Raptors fans’ chagrin, only connecting on 32% of his 3-balls.
The Raptors are the No. 11 seed in the Eastern Conference and trail the No. 8 seed Boston Celtics by 5.5 games. So my question: is making a fringe playoff run really worth jeopardizing your future to this degree?
The Detroit angle
Detroit’s a minor player in this deal, but they did rid themselves of Prince’s deal that’s on the books for almost $22 million through 2014-15. The Pistons now have only $35 million in salary guaranteed for next year, giving them plenty of space to make a run at a max free agent … or hold on to for the 2014 offseason. (Of course the deal does nothing to solve their two worst contracts: Rodney Stuckey’s $8.5 million through next year and Charlie Villanueva’s $8.5 million player option.)
Note to self: with only $13 million on the books for 2014-15 and a number of lottery picks likely to come in the next few years, Detroit could be a player to rebuild with young talent and perhaps entice a star in free agency. Stay tuned.
Quick news item
Congratulations to Brooklyn Nets’ forward Brook Lopez on being named to the Eastern Conference All Star team as Rajon Rondo’s injury replacement. He deserves to be there. Period.
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