HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Members of the Memphis Grizzlies need to turn their phones off, stop answering emails and cut off all lines of communication with their colleagues around the league in regards to Rudy Gay.
Seriously, enough is enough.
We’re talking about the longest-tenured member of the team, a player that, even when he’s struggling with his shot, finds way to produce for one of the best teams in the league.
While it’s easy to see why so many people are interested in trading for him, it’s hard to understand what the Grizzlies are thinking when they dangle Gay out there for other teams to paw at on the trade market.
All that consternation about Gay not being able to co-exist with All-Star power forward Zach Randolph has been put to rest. The Grizzlies have one of the best young cores in the league. They have their big man tandem in Randolph and Marc Gasol, Gay on the wing and a still-improving young point guard in Mike Conley. And they have the right man pushing the buttons in coach Lionel Hollins.
For the Grizzlies’ advanced-stat happy front office, take the words of your head coach to heart when and their stat-happy between now and the Feb. 21 trade deadline:
“Analytics has a place, (but) it can’t be the end-all, be-all,” Hollins said on a local radio show. “I’m trying to still figure out when the Oakland Athletics have won a world championship recently, with all the analytics they have.”
No matter what those numbers tell you about Gay, his performance and contributions to this team, trust your eyes. Whatever issues these Grizzlies have — and like all teams, they have them — they don’t revolve around Gay. He’s on the short list of elite-level players at his position.
That said, I applaud the Grizzlies for taking a long-distance view of things and recognizing that with the bulk of their payroll tied up in Randolph, Gasol, Gay and Conley, future roster flexibility is limited. How they’ve come to the conclusion that Gay is the expendable member of the core four, however, is beyond me.
He’s 26 and just now entering the prime of his career. There is still plenty of “upside” where Gay is concerned. What’s not to like about him and what he brings to this team?
Look around the Western Conference and you’d be hard pressed to find a better and more balanced core four than what the Grizzlies have, especially when you consider the age, ability and production of a team’s top four players.
Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien seems to agree with that sentiment, given what he’s said to local reporters recently. That’s why the Grizzlies made that multiple-player deal with Cleveland to clear more than $6 million in payroll and avoid the luxury tax threshold that forced them to consider trading Gay in the first place.
They accomplished both of their objectives with that deal, getting their books in order and giving themselves future flexibility.
Now the Grizzlies’ brain trust has to do the hardest thing in the world for a crew fresh on the front office scene, they have to stay the course with the nucleus of this team and resist the urge to tinker with the foundation of this team just because they can.
Stay the course!