Even after shipping out a large chunk of their bench production and a future 1st round pick to Cleveland for D-League regular Jon Leuer, the Memphis Grizzlies weren’t done wheeling and dealing as this season’s trade deadline approaches.
The first deal was made to get Memphis below the tax line, which could mean that the Grizzlies have a shot at keeping their core together for at least one more run.
But, Memphis quickly quelled that thought as they Shipped out Rudy Gay in what essentially is a three-team-trade involving the Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons.
F – Rudy Gay $16,460,538
C – Hamed Haddadi $1,300,000
PF – Ed Davis $2,207,040
SF – Tayshaun Prince $6,764,045
F – Austin Daye $2,958,077
Raptors 2nd round pick
PG – Jose Calderon $10,561,982
Why it’s a good move for Toronto:
Toronto flipped an expiring contract, a second round pick and a young big man due for an extension soon in a crowded front-line for an upper echelon NBA talent. If anything, Gay can later be flipped for more talent or can be a centerpiece in a deal to try and bring in a different upper level NBA player. This alone gives Toronto good value on this deal.
This also gives Toronto a chance to become more of a win-now type team. While it may be tough to make a playoff push for the Raptors this season (though, it is easier now with Rajon Rondo out for the Boston Celtics), they certainly should be in the mix next season on talent alone.
Also, the Raptors should become one of the more entertaining franchises in the league if they elect to play ‘small-ball.’ Rudy Gay did not feature at the four spot much for Memphis, as they have one of the best frontlines in the league, but this is a role that Gay played when he was with USA Basketball and is something that he, like some of the other prominent small forwards in the league are capable of.
Here is Gay’s positional breakdown during this season for the Grizzlies:
Obviously this number can be skewed because Gay spent such little time at the power forward position and he likely played there due to a line-up mismatch. But, the potential to be a big-time factor at the four is there and this allows the Raptors to utilize Gay, DeMar DeRozan and rookie Terrance Ross at the same time to form an exciting high-flying trio along with underrated point guard Kyle Lowry and either highly-valued rookie Jonas Valanciunas or underappreciated big-man Amir Johnson.
Why it’s not:
Gay is on one of the most expensive deals in the league, and isn’t putting up the numbers that one expects out of a guy getting paid like that. This hamstrings the future financial flexibility of the roster and possibly limits their long-term ceiling.
Also, the Raptors lose the budding Ed Davis, after working through the hard part of his development, and may hamper the development of youngsters Terrance Ross, DeMar DeRozan and recently signed Landry Fields if Gay plays large minutes on the wing, taking away from these players.
Lastly, Calderon finished his Raptors career just shy of being their all-time assists leader. This feels like a shame.
Toronto was likely to middle around in mediocrity for the next few years regardless. This move starts to put them in the conversation at least, and while Gay still hasn’t lived up to his full potential, the risk is worth it to improve the overall talent of the team, even if it limits spending in the future.
Why it’s a good move for Memphis:
Memphis turned $16,460,538 and $1,300,000 into $6,764,045 $2,958,077 $2,207,040 and arguably made the team better. After the seemingly panic driven Cavaliers trade, the Grizzlies were short on usable bigs coming off of the bench and they now add one who can feature right away, and could be a long-term replacement for franchise cornerstone Zach Randolph.
But, more importantly for this year’s team will be the addition of Tayshaun Prince. Prince doesn’t have as high of a usage as Rudy Gay (18% to 25.5%), but he’s been more efficient this season. During his tenure at Detroit this year Prince has scored a PPP of 0.9 overall as opposed to Gay’s 0.85 while in Memphis. Prince has been better in Isolation, Post Up, Spot Up, Off Screen, Hand Off, Offensive Rebound and Pick and Roll Man situations, with Gay being better as a Pick and Roll Ballhandler, Transition and barely off of Cuts.
As noted, this means that Memphis loses a creator of offense, but finds a piece that may just fit better with the team. The offense is run through Gasol and Randolph inside and Mike Conley is a more than capable distributor at the point guard position. Prince fills in the amorphous role of small forward doing the little things to help the team offensively, mainly spacing the floor (Memphis’ biggest weakness) where Prince has shot 43.4% from beyond the three point line as compared to Gay’s 31.4%
Defensively, adding Prince appears to be a net plus as well. His time with the Pistons saw him give up a PPP of 0.85 v. Gay’s 0.91 during this time with the Grizzlies this season. Prince’s frailty puts him at a disadvantage in most Post Up situations and Gay was noticeable better defensively in this and Isolation situations, while Prince is much more solid defending a Pick and Roll Ballhandler and Spot Up shooter.
Lastly, the addition of Austin Daye is the cherry on top. Daye is a freak of nature as a 6’11 200 pound shooter. With Detroit he was shooting 52.5% from deep (on a small sample, but again his noted skill is his shooting), and Memphis’s weakness has been being able to space the floor. He also has the length to help protect the rim. Which helps, when your starting power forward (Zach Randolph) is not a known leaper.
The 2nd round pick could be valuable as Toronto could hold a high 2nd round pick, which means a team can pick up a first round type talent on an even cheaper deal.
Why it’s not:
Players and coaches alike seem slightly disheartened by the move as it was such a closely knit group. This could be a huge factor going forward as the team relies on such camaraderie as it’s driving force. Also, Gay has a higher ceiling than any one player they are getting in return, and a guy that Memphis would look to to close games.
Davis won’t always be so cheap as he’ll be a restricted free agent in 2014 and will likely warrant a nice upgrade in pay.
If the team can get over the deal emotionally, this is a big plus for Memphis as they stay in the hunt now and build for the future. And, they did so while saving what appears to be a large chunk of change.
Why it’s a good move for Detroit:
Tayshaun’s contract just didn’t really fit this team and now it’s been shed and replaced with an expiring deal. Calderon will alleviate the pressures for Brandon Knight and allow him to play his more natural game. Also, even if Calderon only stays in town for the remainder of this year, he should help in aid the development of Andre Drummond, which is where the true future of the franchise lays.
Why it’s not:
Austin Daye was finally coming around for the Pistons, so it’s tough to see him go.
Also, this gives the Pistons cap room, which they struggled to manage well the last time around.
All-in-all this is a win for Detroit.