Rudy Gay is an extremely talented player with, elite upside that garnered a max contract of $80 Million over five years. Despite his athleticism being a sight to behold, he has yet to live up to his top earner billing. The Grizzlies have decided it is time to take offers on his huge contract. Memphis shopping Gay, however, is not indicative of his talent. This move would be financially motivated
(Skip this paragraph if you don’t care why the Grizzlies are trying to shed payroll)
NBA teams are petrified of the luxury tax from the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The two important features of the new CBA are a punitive tax and repeat offender tax. Below
is a table showing the rates of tax for the new CBA. Essentially it means that for every dollar the team goes over the tax they have to pay 1.50 in taxes or 2.50 if they are a repeat offender, that is $5 or less over the tax. So if a team was $5 MM over the tax they would pay $7.5 MM in additional tax or $12.5 MM for a repeat offender.
|Amount over tax threshold
||Repeat offender tax
|$5 million or less
|$5 million to $10 million
|$10 million to $15 million
|$15 million to $25 million
Simply put, this tax makes it significantly more expensive for teams to go over the threshold . This tax has made it so that only the teams with legitimate chances at the title are willing to pay the tax (that Dolan, Cuban and Buss). Although the Grizzlies are probably contenders, their recent swoon has caused ownership to question whether they want to pay the tax. In any deal Memphis is looking to shed at least $4.6 million in salary to get under the tax level.
After Memphis beat the Spurs in the first round two years ago it was widely believed that they were ready to make the leap. The standard school of thought was that with Gay returning from injury the year after. the Grizz would be an elite team. Gay did come back, and they lost in the first round last year. This year with Gay, Memphis got off to their best start in franchise history. Since their 12-2 start Memphis has been just 10-8. Does this mean they are no longer an elite team? Probably not but that seems to be what ownership is thinking.
That is not to say Memphis isn’t trying to get equal value in return for Rudy. The problem is that forcing the other team to take on $4.6 million in any deal is going to diminish Gay’s value markedly. The Grizzlies are reported to be looking for three point shooting (to space the floor giving Randolph and Gasol more room to operate) and a first round pick in addition to $4.6 MM in savings.
Earlier this week Zach Lowe
began the Gay rumor, while today Adrian Wojnarowski
and Alex Kennedy
produced articles mentioning the teams interested in. I will be going over each team rumored to inquire about Gay’s availability and make up a fake trade that will use the guidelines mentioned in the previous paragraph.
The Boston Celtics
At first glace the Celtics make no sense. Boston is over the cap so they can not give Memphis the $4.6 million in savings they desire. That seems like a non-starter to any deal. However, when you look at the other teams rumored to be in on Gay they all have pieces that the Celtics could use. When taking this into consideration it becomes clear that Boston probably called Memphis, not for Gay but to be a part of a larger deal.
The Celtics need a center and Marcin Gortat
is one of the best on the market. Memphis would get two very good three point shooting bench players to aid in their playoff run as well as a protected first from Phoenix and save $5.9 million. Phoenix would get what it wants in Rudy Gay and a project big to eventually replace Gortat. Would the Suns move Gortat or would losing Gortat negate trading for Gay? Is Phoenix willing to move Dudley, who is currently the heart and soul of their team? Does Boston have enough bench firepower to survive losing Terry? Does Memphis get cold feet when it finally comes time to pull the trigger?
The Sacramento Kings:
All reports out of Sacramento are that they are not moving DeMarcus Cousins
. Along with that hurdle, the Kings have an ownership group that has money problems, which would make it seem unlikely that a deal is consummated. Most of the packages Sacramento would prefer sending would not be enough for Memphis. Even if the Kings were to move Cousins they would want to send back contracts that would negate the savings.
Sacramento showed that they were taking offers on former rookie of the year Tyreke Evans
when they decided not to offer him an extension. His value is at a career low but could end up reaching his full potential on a different team. Thornton would provide the bench shooting that the Grizz need. Sacramento would be ecstatic to get Rudy Gay without giving up Cousins, but even I still question whether ownership would foot the bill.
The Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are one of the best teams in the west. Let that sink in. For the first time in a while GSW will be buyers at the trade deadline. Rudy Gay would be a huge upgrade at small forward for a team that could use one. Gay would put them over the top and allow them to compete for home court advantage in the playoffs. Is the price of an upgrade at the three too high for Golden State?
This trade doesn’t give Memphis the entire savings they would like causing them to make another move after. Despite the lack of salary relief this deal would bring two good prospects to Memphis. In the end this probably is not enough for Memphis. In order to sweeten the pot Memphis could switch Harrison Barnes
for Klay Thompson
and then add Festus Ezeli
. Four for one trades in the NBA are unlikely at best because the players cut to pair the roster down to 15 would still have fully guaranteed deals that would need to be paid (which could negate some of the salary savings).
Let me know what you think of these trades in the comments.