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NBA AM: Where Does Rudy Gay End Up?
Posted By Steve Kyler On January 29, 2013 @ 9:19 am In All,NBA | No Comments
The Rudy Gay Conundrum: Before we get too far into this, keep in mind that when the Memphis Grizzlies traded Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby to the Cleveland Cavaliers last week they solved their luxury tax problems. Going forward everything the Grizzlies are considering now are basketball moves, not business moves.
The Grizzlies brought in an entirely new front office in December with new CEO and managing partner Jason Levien leading the team along with John Hollinger, formerly from ESPN, and Stu Lash, a long-time player agent and former coach. Together with incumbent GM Chris Wallace there is now a four-man decision making tree with Levien sitting at the top as the chief decision maker.
The Grizzlies reached out to every team in the league in early January, mainly to introduce themselves and to gauge what was out there, hence all the Memphis chatter specifically related to Rudy Gay. The new front office wanted a fresh look at the landscape and that’s why you have heard so much about Memphis in the rumor mill, because they have been talking.
The Grizzlies had to get under the luxury tax line; it was never an option to be a tax payer with how the team is constructed on the financial side. Considering deals involving Rudy Gay made the most sense because he makes a ton of money. After hearing what Gay could return, the Grizzlies turned to Cleveland and made a lesser deal.
That hasn’t stopped teams from calling about Gay, but what has changed is that Memphis isn’t nearly as ready to move Gay as some teams are in trying to acquire him.
If Memphis moves Gay, and it seems unlikely that they will, the deal will have to be one that moves them up in the standings in the West. The Grizzlies are not going to do the dump move on Gay mid-season. If the dump move is coming, it is coming in the offseason.
The Grizzlies have been linked to Boston’s Paul Pierce, which the Grizz seem reluctant to entertain. There are some upsides to Pierce in Memphis. He is clearly a better shooter. He also brings playoff swagger, experience and his contract is friendly to Memphis’ long-term plan.
The problem with Pierce is does he fit? Grizzlies’ coach Lionel Hollins can be prickly to say the least. He pulls no punches and some players really struggle with his no-BS coaching style. Would Pierce be happy in Memphis? The last thing the Grizzlies need is to make a deal with Boston and Pierce not be on board or be disgruntled upon arriving.
Trading for Pierce is hardly a slam dunk move for the Grizzlies, there is some risk that Memphis would have to consider.
The Grizzlies have recently been linked to Toronto. ESPN’s Marc Stein labels Toronto as the most “determined” to pry Gay out of Memphis.
Stein says a Raptors deal would be based around Jose Calderon and Ed Davis. However, they would want not only Gay but Darrell Arthur in the deal, which is a terrible return for Memphis as Arthur has been one of Memphis’ bright spots from the bench.
League sources close to this process say there is no shortage of suitors for Gay; however, Memphis just does not seem like a team ready to move Gay, despite the chatter involving him.
The sense around the team is that there are other options under consideration that are possible before the Feb. 21 trade deadline and if the perfect scenario deal does not surface, the Grizzlies will ride out the season with Gay and the existing squad and see what the marketplace looks like around the draft and free agency, something being under the luxury tax line now affords them.
The Grizzlies did obtain three traded player exceptions in their deal with Cleveland, including a $4 million TPE for Speights. The Grizz could trigger a smaller deal before the deadline using one of those exceptions; however the monster deal involving Gay would have to return the kinds of pieces that move Memphis into the elite of the West. So far that kind of deal has not been offered and Memphis is in no hurry to trade themselves out of the playoff picture in the West or making a bad deal involving Gay.
Conley The Key For The Grizzlies: Memphis guard Mike Conley badly sprained his ankle on Sunday and missed yesterday’s game versus the 76ers. While Conley is expected to be back in action against the Oklahoma City Thunder, there is no doubt that the Grizzlies will go only as far as Conley leads them.
Conley talked with HOOPSWORLD about his team’s second half chances and how they are dealing with the recent trade and all the rumors surrounding the team.
Gordon Settling In With New Orleans: The New Orleans Hornets, soon to be the Pelicans, are starting to find some rhythm to their game. They are not winning as much as they’d like but they are finally able to put the squad they envisioned on the floor with a somewhat healthy Eric Gordon.
Gordon is still working his way back into shape after missing a huge of chunk of the season to knee rehab and says he’s still sore after most games. Gordon is starting to get more comfortable on the floor and starting to see the promise of the team he is trying to lead.
“It’s still early to tell how good we can be. We’ve shown at any time we can beat any team and that’s the good part,” Gordon told HOOPSWORLD. “We just have to see how good we can be and keep on playing more games and keep playing together. It’s good to see from a future standpoint and we just have to keep playing like we’ve been playing.”
The Gordon-effect is noticeable. Early in the season the Hornets looked like a young team, with ups and downs in energy level. With Gordon on the floor the team seems to have an added bounce and is playing with more confidence.
“That was one of my expectations from last year,” Gordon said. “I expect a lot out of these guys. It’s time to play everybody’s role. I think everybody was scattered. When you lose a lot of games, it’s hard to figure out how to win at times. Once you start winning, and we’ve been on a roll; first time I’ve been here that we’ve had a five game winning streak. That just helps out and everybody confidence-wise has just gotten bigger.”
A lot has been made about Gordon’s commitment to New Orleans, and despite his repeated endorsement of the team the rumors still persist, however Gordon says he is starting to see the bright future his squad has in front of him.
“I understood from last year, I just didn’t play in that many games,” explained Gordon. “I’m here to win and here to make guys better. It’s definitely a great situation and the future can be really good here, hopefully we just really build up chemistry this year.”
The Western Conference is filled with power teams that built through the draft and were patient with the necessary growth process to have sustained success. Gordon says the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies are examples of what the Hornets are trying to do.
“I can tell that’s what they’re trying to do here,” explained Gordon. “They’re starting out very, very young. We got a lot of guys that are under 23 and are trying to build a team. I can definitely see it.”
The Hornets are looking at another NBA Draft in their future and what could be as much as $20 million in cap space to add this summer. They have an incredibly young core and several tradable assets and with Gordon, rookie Anthony Davis and several up and coming veterans the Hornets/Pelicans look to be headed in the right direction or at least that’s what Gordon believes.
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Trades Create Opportunity: When the Memphis Grizzlies traded away Wayne Ellington to Cleveland last week it created a shortage of guards for head coach Lionel Hollins. The Grizzlies responded by moving Jared Bayless to the two guard spot and giving rookie Tony Wroten a chance to play.
Hollins was noticeably reluctant to put the ball in his rookie’s hands for an extended period of time, however, Wroten has brought a spark to Memphis’ second unit in his four games in an expanded role averaging seven points, 2.25 assists and three rebounds.
“I’m getting real confidence because I’ve gotten my team to believe in me,” Wroten told HOOPSWORLD. “It’s hard when people don’t believe in you but my teammates, coaches, everybody believes in me so I believe in myself. That’s why I go out there with a big chip on my shoulder.”
Wroten isn’t much of a shooter; that was the knock on him during the draft process, but he does like to attack the basket, which has created opportunities for others and has raised the intensity level of the bench.
Wroten credits his teammates for making it work for him.
“We are great friends and nobody has beef with anybody,” Wroten said with a smile. “We have great chemistry because everybody has fun with everybody and we are unselfish.
“I just try to be myself and do whatever I can to help this team win. That might be to score one point; guarding the best player; doing whatever it takes and like I said, I am going to give a 100 percent every time I step on the court.”
The Grizzlies were looking for a spark for the second half of the season and while Wroten isn’t going to torch you with his jump shot, he has shown a willingness to attack the rim and he could be good for a highlight reel dunk at any moment, and that’s the spark the Grizz were looking for.
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