Get ready for a whole lot of this. Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley says his team is "not looking to trade Rudy Gay." He says his team is not "shopping him around." In case we needed help with our punctuation, he added a "period" to his on the record comments. Of course, as he should, and as is completely correct, Heisley stopped short of saying that his team isn't going to trade Rudy Gay. Because this is how these things work, and we shouldn't freak out unduly if the Grizz end up trading Rudy Gay.
So while we'll quote Heisley at length, as he discusses his plans with the team's borderline All-Star, we promise not to troll so hard when we go back to this quote when another team steps up with an offer for the Grizzlies wing scorer:
"Yes, people have called us to ask about Rudy," Heisley said. "Obviously, we need to seriously look at strengthening the team. But Rudy is the only player we have who can get his shot any time and any place on the floor. You can't afford to get rid of him and not bring in somebody who can do more. I think Chris [Wallace, the GM] has to be open-minded about everybody on the roster. But I don't know how else I can say this: There is no plan to trade Rudy Gay."
There is no plan to. The team is not "looking" to trade him. They're not shopping him around.
But if some team wants to make an offer, if some team is "looking" to trade for Rudy Gay, then you can bet the Grizzlies will listen. Because listening and looking are not the same thing. That's what I tell my wife, at least.
Rudy is set to make nearly $51 million over the next three years of his contract, assuming he picks up a player option in 2014-15 that he'd be a silly-billy not to. We, like the Grizzlies, respect the heck out of his game and his drive and what he brings to a Memphis team that is looking to attempt to make it back to the second round of the playoffs in 2013, and possibly beyond. The talent, with Gay around, is good enough to pull that off.
The team is realistic about its roster's limitations, though. And without being cheap in terms of payroll of dismissive of Gay's overall game, the Grizz understand that a deal involving Rudy could net the team some of the rotation parts it needs in order to establish some depth. The Grizzlies did well to compete in the first round in 2011-12, surviving in a tough season played mostly without Zach Randolph either on the court or at full strength, but it badly needs help at all positions off the bench. And that's not even getting into the fact that they are paying franchise player cash for a worker (in Gay) that is at best going to fight for a coach-voted placement on the All-Star team.
Still, the rumored options don't make a heck of a lot of sense. Because though we still think of the Grizzlies as a young and up and coming team, the reality is that a lot of these players are about to hit their prime, so a swap of Gay for a lottery-level youngster doesn't really scan well with us. Nor does the idea of the Charlotte Bobcats turning their second overall pick into a 26-year-old about to make an average of $17 million a year over the next three seasons without making an All-Star team out East scan well, either.
Though this is exactly the scuttle that Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico is reporting. Here's his take, from a source:
"Michael is sick of hearing the talk about being a less-than-stellar evaluator of talent, and who can blame him? He's sick of his team getting throttled," said a Western Conference executive. "You couldn't fault him and his front office for just plugging the dyke for a year. Signing some veterans might do that."
That GM makes a valid point, as anyone who scans the Bobcats' roster can see there are holes everywhere. Former coach and current analyst Jeff Van Gundy even stated recently that they don't have a top-15 player at any position, which would be hard to argue.
Because the Bobcats are so far under the salary cap, a deal involving that pick and a throw-in (scoring wing Reggie Williams, perhaps) would work, technically. And the idea of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist filling that Grizzlies hole at off guard is a little alluring, but why would even a desperate Bobcats squad do this?
(Because they're the Bobcats, perhaps?)
Until the draft, though, on June 28? It's all silly scuttle and rumors. We're not telling you to dive into your hovel until then, but you should stride with a cautious stride as you follow from a safe distance. Between now and draft night, we won't mislead you.
We're not "looking" to, at least.