Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley recently made it clear to Memphis Commercial Appeal writer Geoff Calkins that Memphis has no intention of trading Rudy Gay. According to Heisley:
“No disrespect to Oklahoma City, but if we had had Rudy Gay, we would have won the bleepity-bleep series going away. I really believe that.”
This may all very well be true, Memphis might have beaten Oklahoma City with Gay in the lineup, and the team likely does not intend to trade Rudy Gay.
However, intent is a very funny thing in business and the NBA.Â Teams intend on doing the best by their fans and players but as we all know things do not always work out that way.Â Moreover, when an owner makes such a strong statement as Heisley does in professing his commitment to keeping Gay, it may be less a matter of Gay or a similar player’s value to their particular team, but more about their value around the league.Â And at this point few players are as hard to assess as Gay.Â He’s a young talented scorer entering his prime who defends and who’s growing as a leader.Â On the other hand, he’s a max contract player whose team almost made it to the conference finals without him playing.Â Given this conundrum Heisley has no other option but to say he won’t trade Gay because there’s no other way of raising his trade value around the league, especially since under the best of circumstances Memphis would be hard pressed to get equal value back for Gay in any trade.
If you do a brief review of the Grizzlies’ options you’d quickly find there’s not a single player who’d make sense in a straight up trade (a reasonable trade, I’m not talking about Lebron for Gay), nor are there any teams that could offer a good package of players in return. It wouldn’t make sense for Memphis to trade Ga for the variety of swingmen with similar contracts, a list that includes: Andre Iguodala, Brandon Roy or Danny Granger.Â Given that they re-signed Mike Conley Jr. earlier this year, a player such as Golden State’s Monta Ellis is no longer a viable option, and Gay is just flat out better than the likes of the Magic’s Gilbert Arenas or the Wizards’ Nick Young.
One possible trade that would work involves moving Gay to the Magic for a package built around a re-signed Jason Richardson, and either J.J. Redick and Martin Gortat’s trade exception, or Richardson and the trade exceptions Orlando received for both Gortat and Rashard Lewis.Â Were Memphis to sign Richardson to a 3-year deal at 9-mil per they’d be getting a reasonable player at reasonable rate, and the trade exceptions would give them financial leverage to rebound from over-paying Randolph and Conley. And if Redick is included instead of both trade exceptions, his Duke roots will give Grizzlies another player with southeast roots.
While Heisley’s bout of loyalty is noble, it’s not necessarily the right approach to making sure Memphis stays competitive and financially stable.