NBA PM: Rudy Gay Talks Trade
A championship-caliber team is a rare and wondrous thing. Just ask anyone who has hung their hearts on a team that is not among the handful of perennial contenders. Fans of the Los Angeles Lakers, for example, take it for granted that their team is going to be elite every season, so much so that the slightest appearance of weakness results in the firing of a head coach or a major trade. Meanwhile fans of, say, the Memphis Grizzlies, long for just one taste of what a championship team is all about.
The Grizzlies are close to helping their fans realize that dream, but forces are at work behind the scenes that may derail the team before we see where their considerable potential might take them. The team’s payroll currently sits at just over $74 million, and with the league’s luxury tax threshold sitting at just over $70 million, Memphis is currently in danger of paying the tax. The Grizzlies aren’t dead set against paying the tax, but if they could make a deal that kept them as competitive and also got them under the tax, they would make that deal.
Right now the Grizzlies are exploring Rudy Gay’s trade value, a search that has turned up interesting names like Bradley Beal from Washington and J.J. Redick from Orlando, to name two of the many teams who have expressed interest in Gay. They are not in a big hurry to move Gay, but the process of assessing his trade value could well culminate in a move made before next month’s trade deadline.
For his part, Gay is saying all the right things. In a recent interview with HOOPSWORLD, for example, he talked about the importance of continuity and how difficult it had been seeing so many players come and go during his time with the team – most recently sixth man O.J. Mayo.
“Obviously, it’s tough to see somebody go,” said Gay. “With me and [Mike Conley] being here from the beginning, we’ve both seen that stuff happen. We’ve seen everybody go and now we see a totally different team than when we got here. It’s the league and it happens, but of course we’d love to see him here.”
The issue, of course, in thinking about a major roster move is that the changes that come in the wake of the trade might mean that they are no longer among the NBA’s elite. Winning is the result of a delicate balance of egos, talent, and personalities. Changing that chemistry can result in a nosedive for the team no matter what talent comes back in trade. It might also mean that Gay, for example, could go from a championship contender to a lottery team.
“It is what it is,” said Gay of those possibilities. “Obviously, it’s not in anybody’s control here. If it happens it happens, if not, it is what it is.”
To be clear, however, Gay would prefer for the team to stay together and see what they can accomplish come playoff time.
“That would be the perfect thing to do, but it’s the NBA,” said Gay. “Of course, we’d love to see each other grow and try to win together, but it’s not always our plan how it works out.”
For now, the Grizzlies will focus on continuing to do what they’ve been doing all season, which is play at a level that makes them look like a team to be reckoned with come playoff time.
“We’re playing great, it’s obvious to say that we’re one of the top teams in the West if not the whole NBA,” said Gay. “We play very good basketball against a lot of teams and sometimes we have our lapses, but who doesn’t? I think we’re one of the teams to beat.”
It certainly appears that way for now, but will a trade shake up the Grizzlies and prevent them from reaching their considerable potential?
Billups Taking It Slowly This Time
These days fans of the Los Angeles Clippers are more likely to think that Chauncey Billups is a member of the coaching staff rather than an active member of the team, and while his contributions extend well beyond what he does on the court, he is looking forward to getting healthy and getting back to playing basketball.
“Actually, I am doing much better,” Billups said in a recent interview with KOA in Denver. “I did get back from the Achilles and my peroneal tendon flared up a little bit by the ankle, and it’s not directly related to the Achilles, but indirectly it is. You talk about my left calf not being as strong as the right one and everything else happened to kind of fire and help and compensate and that’s how it turned out inflamed, so that just set me back a little bit, but I am really not in a rush to be honest with you. Guys are playing well. I want to get healthy. I know it’s going to be a long ride for us, so I’m hoping end of the month and early next month, but I am taking it slow.”
This injury is nothing when compared to the last one, which kept Billups out of action for all but 20 games of last season.
“It was a tough uphill battle,” said Billups. “I knew it would be, talking with the doctors and the people who had been through it and came back from the injury. I also talked to people who never made it back from the injury, so it was a tough battle, but anybody that knows me knew I wasn’t going to bow down to that. I was going to do everything I could possibly do to get back and I did that very successfully. I’ll be back soon with everything else — there’s just so much time off that the rest of my body has to re-calibrate itself, so it was a tough grind, but I feel good that I made it out of that.”
Billups has only played three games this season, but has been impressed by the excellent play of his teammates.
“It’s been exciting,” said Billups. “I am very excited at what we can possibly do this season. We added a lot of new pieces last year and been very successful so far and I am looking forward to getting back myself. I can help in the system for our success.”
No matter how well the Clippers play, Los Angeles will always be Laker Land, but Billups says he’s seen a small change of heart taking place as the drama unfolds on the Lakers’ side of the building.
“It’s crazy. It’s crazy,” admitted Billups. “We are playing so well and are having such a great season that anybody that knows this town it’s a Lakers town. No matter what we do or how good we play, if we win it [NBA Championship] … this is a Lakers town, although a lot of those fans that are die-hard Lakers fans are now saying we are die-hard Lakers fans, but if you all play anybody else, we are Clippers fans. We are changing a little bit of what’s going on, but this is a Lakers town and of course they got a lot going on with Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. It’s like a show over there.”
Kevin Love Out For Up To 10 Weeks
He didn’t do it by doing knuckle push-ups this time, but that’s small comfort as the Minnesota Timberwolves prepare for another extended period of time without All-Star Kevin Love.
Love broke the third and fourth metacarpals in his right hand during a win over the Denver Nuggets earlier this month and is now set to have surgery to repair the injury tomorrow in New York.
The bad news for the Timberwolves is that Love’s recovery time has been set at eight-to-ten weeks, a period that should more than take care of their lofty preseason hopes of making the playoffs this season. The team has lost four out of five games since losing Love, and while there is plenty of talent on the roster there have been enough injuries to supporting players to make this injury all the more difficult to overcome.
The Timberwolves were very much in the playoff picture prior to Love’s injury, despite the ridiculous number of other injuries they have faced this season, but this one appears to be the one that they simply won’t be able to overcome. The team is now in the West’s tenth seed with the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks right behind them.
You never like to see a team defined by injuries, especially not one coached by Rick Adelman, who had many teams defined by injuries in Houston, but it looks like it might already be time for Timberwolves fans to start looking ahead to 2013-14.
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