The title really says is all. Adrian Woj, also known as the best reporter on the planet has this to say:
The final hurdle for the salary dump of Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors hinges on finding a third team to absorb the expiring contract of Raptors guard Jose Calderon, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The Grizzlies have inquired with multiple teams over the past several days, searching for a willing partner to facilitate a three-team deal, sources said. Despite organizational proclamations to the contrary, new Memphis ownership and management is determined to unload Gay and the $37 million owed him as soon as possible, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Calderon has a $10.5 million expiring contract.
“With so many quality point guards, they’re struggling to find a spot for Calderon,” one league general manager told Yahoo! Sports. Preferably, the Grizzlies want a less expensive small forward to plug into the lineup for Gay, sources said. Memphis has been relentless in shopping Gay over the past several weeks. In a proposed deal, Memphis would likely receive another young Raptors player and a future draft pick, sources said. The Grizzlies have unsuccessfully tried to pry Raptors rookie Terrence Ross as part of the deal, sources said. Toronto has deemed Ross untouchable in these talks.
Recently, the Grizzlies’ front office dumped three contracts and a first-round pick – including Mareese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Shelby – onto the Cleveland Cavaliers to get under the luxury-tax threshold.
At 29-15, the Grizzlies are currently the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoff race. Beyond Gay, the Grizzlies have nearly $65 million in contracts locked into forward Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol through the 2014-15 season. They are determined to lessen luxury-tax implications of holding onto three significant contracts.
Obviously this has become serious stuff and the Raptors are set to lose Ed Davis and another draft pick, at the minimum. This is a massive trade that will be bringing the Raptors an above-average swingman in Rudy Gay, but the circumstance under which this trade is being made stinks of nothing but panic. Leaving aside the glaring contradiction of undergoing a rebuild and pulling off a trade like this, the question of basketball fit has also to be questioned as the roster would have Andrea Bargnani, Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, and Kyle Lowry on it. All of those guys needs shots to survive, and at the very minimum the Raptors would have to trade Andrea Bargnani just to balance shots out.
However, with Ed Davis as part of this deal, this basically resets the PF rotation to what it was in training camp, i.e., Bargnani and Johnson. If this turn out to be the case, there will never be a clearer sign of favoritism as Bargnani would get yet another chance to earn his badges with the Raptors. I can’t believe this, and I certainly don’t think Dwane Casey can be on board with this. I realize that Rudy Gay is an attractive proposition, but looking at his game a little more closely you’ll notice that he is an overpaid under-performer shooting at 41% for the season and 31% from three. Memphis has had success playing without him in the past and this is more than just about them saving money: they clearly don’t value him from a basketball perspective enough.
The Raptors already have a guy like DeRozan who, given time, will likely end up having a game like Rudy Gay, perhaps even better. Even currently, they have essentially the same PER, scoring average and rebounding numbers, and DeRozan is much earlier in his career (Gay, DeRozan). I’m not sure having another DeMar DeRozan is the answer at the small forward. Gay’s lack of a three-point shot is another matter of concern, as the Raptors will end up deploying a ball-demanding guy who can’t shoot from the wing. With Terrence Ross showing something of substance, a true rebuild effort would slot DeRozan and Ross together and see what the dynamics are, not dramatically change the roster to start yet another process which has unforeseen and unpredictable consequences.
I had some hopes that the board would stop this madness but clearly, given that this is in such a late stage, they’ve given their approval and can’t seem to see this is a desperate act by Colangelo to seem proactive and ultimately, try to save his job. To me, this season is quite on course to what was expected, unless you actually thought the Raptors were going to make the playoffs which is absolutely insane. Perhaps they are 3-4 wins shy on account of, say, injury and bad luck, but at the end of the day we’re seeing Davis blossom into something meaningful, Valanciunas show that he’s capable, and Ross pick up his game. The right move here is to get rid of Bargnani in favor of a cheap three-point shooting small forward (or just amnesty him), and to trade Jose Calderon for a pick or serviceable rotation player.
I realize that it’s tempting to see Rudy Gay as the “shot maker” who will save us in the fourth quarter and stop the bleeding when it comes to these close losses, but that is a tremendously short-sighted view of the situation. I haven’t even gotten into Gay’s contract, which looks like:
I’m not paying his salary, but it’s not hard to see that with average to slightly above-average players like Bargnani, Gay, and DeRozan accounting for $37M of the cap, it’s going to be difficult to maneuver in the future. But let’s ignore that for now, I’m sure Steve Fruitman will figure out some loophole to make another move and find us a way to get Hedo back. The resulting lineup out of this trade will be Bargnani, Valanciunas, Gay, DeRozan and Lowry. It’s an OK lineup on paper presently, and assuming it yields mediocrity (and that IS the best case scenario), giving up the traditional Colangelo pick is going to hamper the ability to acquire further talent. Remember, the draft is what got us somewhat back on the right track with DeRozan, Davis, Valanciunas, and Ross. It wasn’t the useless FA and trades Colangelo has made (Kapono, Jack, Kleiza, Hedo, O’Neal, Marion). Why we would abandon this course of drafting talent and developing it, in favor of another gamble is beyond me and speaks to nothing but lack of patience.
But hey, this looks like it’s about to go down so better suck it up and hope for the best. Maybe Gay finds his three-point shot and his All-Star offensive form where he elevates and shoots over people, resulting in an almost unblockable shot. His defense is suspect and like DeRozan, he cannot convert athleticism into defensive ability, so on that end we’re going to be paying the price and be continually disappointed unless Casey pulls off a coaching miracle.
In summary, this looks like Colangelo trying to save his job and reacting to the Raptors fourth quarter woes. The long game here is to continue doing what we’re doing, i.e., select decent draft picks and develop them, but you require patience for that and Colangelo’s a gambling man, no matter what he tells everyone else. Let’s hope this gamble pays off. It’ll be the first and he is due.