The Cleveland Cavaliers have the incredible fortune of owning the first and fourth overall selections in the 2011 NBA Draft, but a new report indicates they are open to moving at least one of them in order to upgrade their roster with a veteran contributor. Indeed, the Cavaliers offered the fourth pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for high-scoring small forward Rudy Gay, using the trade exception they received from the Miami Heat in the LeBron James sign-and-trade deal to absorb Gay’s salary, according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress. Memphis said no.
Gay, a five-year veteran, has shown remarkable consistency in his career, averaging between 18.9 and 20.1 points per game, and shooting between 45.3 percent and 47.1 percent, over the last four seasons. Though an injury limited him to just 54 games in 2010-11, Gay set new career-bests in rebounding, assists, steals, blocks, three-point percentage, and free-throw percentage as he worked himself into being a more well-rounded contributor. It’s not difficult to see why the Cavaliers, or any team, would like to add him.
And though it seems Memphis might be silly to let Gay go, it’s important to remember context: even without Gay, the Grizzlies won their first-ever playoff series this season before falling in the second round. A small-market club, they owe point guard Mike Conley and Zach Randolph an estimated $111 million over the next five seasons. Starting center Marc Gasol will enter restricted free agency this summer and will require another long-term financial commitment. Perhaps the Grizzlies’ playoff success without Gay, who has $69 million over five seasons remaining on his contract, could convince them to part with their longest-tenured player.
Or maybe not. We aren’t privy to Memphis’ thought process here. But from the outside, the deal Cleveland reportedly proposed isn’t terribly one-sided.