Deal Likely Delays Inevitable For Grizz

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — It’s impossible to determine how much, if at all, trade speculation truly distracts a team. But in the case of the Memphis Grizzlies, it’s fair to speculate that it has a lot.

“Trade rumors have been in this league since they’ve allowed trades,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said in Dallas 10 days ago as rumors of the franchise shopping Rudy Gay — as well as Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol — ran rampant.

Hollins is right, of course, but it doesn’t mean trade rumors are any less difficult to wrap the brain around now than in Hollins’ playing days. It’s actually an impossible argument to make in the Internet age and now with social media fueling speculation by the millisecond.

That night in Dallas was the start of three consecutive blowout losses for Memphis. Monday’s 82-81 home loss to Indiana makes it four in the last six games as the Grizzlies have fallen off the pace of the West’s top three teams and are fending off Golden State for fourth place.

A smaller-scale Cavs-Grizzlies trade consummated this morning gets Memphis under the dreaded luxury tax this season without needing to move any of its key pieces and perhaps gets it back to work with clearer minds.

This group, having grown into contenders together, wanted the chance to remain together and compete for a championship this season.

The reported trade will send young Memphis reserves Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby, plus a first-round draft pick to Cleveland for end-of-bencher John Leuer.

Memphis’ new ownership group wants no part of the CBA’s harsher luxury tax penalties to come. And with Gay, Gasol, Randolph and point guard Mike Conley on the books for a combined $58.7 million next season, Tuesday’s trade ultimately only postpones the inevitable trade of Gay and/or others until the summer. 

As’s Ken Berger tweeted: “Welcome to luxury taxonomics.”

The new CBA, drafted with the intent to help small-market clubs keep their rosters intact, isn’t really working out that way. Chris Paul was traded from New Orleans to the Los Angeles Clippers before the start of the 2011-12 season. The Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets before the start of this season. And the Grizz will ship out Gay and/or others this summer to align their books with the new economic times.

The trade can be considered a win-now for the Grizz’s key components and fans who didn’t want the core split up before they had a chance to attack the postseason one last time. Remember, in 2010-11, Gay got injured and missed the playoffs. Memphis upset San Antonio in the first round and lost in the second round in seven grueling games to the Thunder.

Randolph injured his knee early on last season, came back late, but never got to full strength. Memphis lost Game 1 — blowing a huge lead — and Game 7 on its home floor in the first round to the Clippers.

“I definitely want to see this team stick together,” Randolph said that night in Dallas. “I’ve been with these guys four years. Rudy’s been here the longest. You want to see us together because we’ve come a long way, definitely.”

The downside to the deal is that the Grizzlies’ bench gets a little lighter. Although Speights’ role had decreased with the return of Darrell Arthur from injury, the 6-foot-10, 255-pounder averaged 6.5 ppg and 4.7 rpg in just 14.5 mpg. Ellington was Memphis’ most accurate 3-point shooter (42.3 percent) on a team that desperately needs that component.

But, at least as the Grizzlies reach the halfway point of their season at home Wednesday against the slumping Los Angeles Lakers, the core remains and they can get back to work with minds more at ease.


  1. Peter says:

    U guys don’t understand how Valuable Zbo is to Memphis, if they let him go, the fans will riot…that man is the heart of the team. Fans would probably boycott the games too if they let him go. On the other hand I know RUdy personally and i dont want him to go neither

  2. zgillet says:

    Perhaps they are freeing up cap space for the next trade?

  3. Kamote says:

    With the Grizz finally healthy this year (Gay out 2 years ago and Zach last year), they really need to know if they can push it this year. But if they have to break up, they should trade Conley as there are lots of solid PG’s out there (like George Hill, Kemba, Holiday, B. Knight, Lowry). Apologies to Conley fans, and he’s having a good year, but I think he’s still overpaid but still couldn’t line up with elite PGs. They should trade him with a solid PG with lower pay plus players w/ expiring contracts.

  4. Tim NBA Fan says:

    Quoting Robert Pera, “When I look at Memphis as a community and see how important the team is, I have the same feeling I have with my company, I understand the community really owns the team. The goal is to be highly competitive, build a great brand and have a great product.”

    Who knew the new Grizzlies ownership would be so cheap? They were clearly a true contender until the trade rumors started circulating. This trade is a very bad attempt at putting a stop to the rumors, so the team can get the main focus on basketball. But for one it’s probably too late. The contender swagger is gone. Secondly they gave up valuable pieces, especially Speights, who at times has played better than Randolph, and gave up a future pick, all for nothing. That sends a clear message that ownership doesn’t believe in the current team and is too cheap to care either for the present team or the franchise future. Sadly they know they can trash the team and so long as the NBA doesn’t expand much, the franchise value will continue to climb. Free effortless money for the owners, and possibly a huge burdensome future loser team for Memphis.

  5. Max says:

    Memphis, send Marc Gasol to Lakers! They can afford his$$$$! Need Marc & Pau! Great together!!

  6. GLAKERS says:

    this is what happens wen you overpay players!!! and as much as i love the NBA, today’s players are being over payed !!! and i think it has started to hurt the league !!!

  7. justmyopinion says:

    If players are so keen at sticking together, why dont the reduce their salaries to bring it more talent?

    • Kamote says:

      because salary is the measurement of one’s value, much the same in the corporate world. would you work for a company where there’s an employee getting better pay than you though you know you’re better and work harder? same stuff.

  8. Terrible deal for the grizz, but I’LL TAKE IT! hahaha. We take what we can get here in CLE. But I still love the grizz and they’ll still be a contender even with a lighter back court.

    • slider821 says:

      With the right picks and player development, Cleveland will be a good team in a few years. They have something like top 5 picks in both the first and second rounds of the draft for the next 4 straight years, including a few first picks. Hopefully there will be good talent to choose from.

  9. Jimmy Jazz says:

    Stop being a tight arse and pay the luxury tax ffs

  10. grizz fan grit n grind says:

    they should have just got rid of zbo he is a good player but is getting old with knee and back injuries. speights couldve filled his role. we have no bench now accept pondexter who is hurt, bayless is garbage a shooting gaurd trying to fill in at point. really wish they didnt make this crazy deal 3 bench players and a first rounder for a player that wont play.

  11. Nash fan says:

    pau back to grizz? no way lol pau wants to be in laker land for as long as he can! but why trade? the grizz looks so good with the current roster! z-bo, marc and gay are playing great! i reckon take steve nash for depth!

  12. W/E says:

    what a horrible deal,they should wait and use these players to get more, AWFULL trade.

  13. DLEAGUE says:

    It’s a fair deal. Memphis needs a little change and they got one. And besides if you need good bench players you can do dleague call ups CHEAPER and BETTER they hustle more and play harder.

    • Tim NBA Fan says:

      How is it a fair deal? It is one of the most lopsided deals I’ve seen. It brings zero benefit to the Grizzlies as a team. The owners of the Grizzlies did get a short-term benefit, but what benefits owners doesn’t necessarily benefit the team.

      There are no players of Speights caliber in the D-League. Not even close.

  14. adam says:

    How about this,
    Lakers trade Pau, duhon, and sacre for zach randolf.
    There now grizzlies get pau with hisbrother to fill up the front ourt
    and lakers actually get a more agreesive presence in the frontcourt to secure rebounds and help Dwight not get into alot of foul trouble.

    • Schemer21 says:

      There’s no way this can work. They’re trying to reduce salaries. Randolph will make 16.5 Million this year and 17.8 mollion next year. Pau, Duhon and Sacre’s combined salaries for this year are 23.2 million and 22.9 next year.

      I do see what you’re saying tho, and talent wise it’s a fairly decent trade, fairly balanced. Financially it doesen’t work tho.

  15. Chester says:

    speights is inconsistent but a talent and ellington is a decent shooter, itd be hard in the playoffs for the grizz without them. the starting 5 will be playing 48 mins a game

  16. PistonsFan93 says:

    Yeah I agree. This deal makes no sense.

  17. jacobm says:

    if only 1 they should keep marc. centers are rare centers who can both shoot and back defenders down are nearly impossible to find

  18. big cat says:

    rudy gay and marc gasol are going to Toronto for calderon , bargnani , and landry fields

  19. PeeDiddy says:

    Don’t know what to think of this move. Understand they want to keep the core together, but damn, that bench just got Blazer-thin.Arthur is a nice role player, and i guess Bayless and Pondexter can help a little bit, but that’s it. I gotta say, Speights, Ellington and a first-rounder is a little to good of a package to just throw away for nothing but a half-season delay on the inevitable: departure of Gay/Randolph/Gasol. Cause honestly, the Grizz ain’t gonna win the title with this roster….

  20. Horrible deal. This will not help the new owner’s reputation with the fan base. At the end of the day, the NBA is truly about business instead of basketball…….this type of deal shows that.

    • slider821 says:

      I agree that this trade was not about basketball or talent reasons but moreso about cap relief. They moved contracts for a contract and came out with $4m less payroll and are now under the cap. Makes sense to me.

      However, what I don’t understand is “And the Grizz will ship out Gay and/or others this summer to align their books with the new economic times.”

      Does that mean this trade got them under the cap this season but next season’s salaries will push it over the cap (due to raises and contract terms of their big 4)? Or does it mean next year’s cap is lower and they’ll be over the cap again if they don’t make more moves?

    • dattebayo says:

      Well, you can always get immensely rich and sponsor the luxury tax for the Grizzlies. That way they can keep overpaying Gay and keep the bench players, too.

  21. Bersem says:

    Why not bringing back Pau to the Grizzlies in a 3-team trade (Pau to Memphis / Josh Smith to Memphis / Randolph to Atlanta) and let him play with his brother Marc ? Gay for Danny Granger ?