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Ball Don't Lie

Rudy Gay’s most recent rumored trade destination is Washington

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Rudy Gay works through the trade rumors (Getty Images)

Try to cut everything out of the picture, save for the visual tip-offs. Forget how he may have disappointed you at Connecticut, or the Memphis Grizzlies’ inspiring 2011 playoff run with him on the bench. Forget the contract, forget Lionel Hollins recently talking the guy up, and forget the idea that a change in scenery could turn things around for a 26-year old talent.

Rudy Gay looks good, doesn’t he? He looks like someone born and raised to play this game, at this level, leading a team as good and potentially great as the Memphis Grizzlies are. He’s long, spry, the fundamentals on his jump shot appear to be perfect, and he makes enough spectacular basketball plays to help you forget the … hell, we’ve already forgotten what’s so lacking about Rudy Gay!

To that end, when rumors filter out of somewhere that Washington Wizards may be out to acquire the Memphis forward, we give them credibility. As good as Gay appears in theory, the Wizards look awful in practice. Without hope, as they continue to deal for mediocre players you’ve heard of, while preserving the status quo that allows for, um, “veteran” types like Ernie Grunfeld and Randy Wittman to preserve their roles. Toss in the name of Wizards rookie Bradley Beal, a player that is on pace to hit as many three-pointers this month as Gay has made so far this year, heading to Memphis in return? It all makes sense.

That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, though.

Here’s the report, from the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

According to a person with knowledge of those conversations, Gay is likely to remain a Grizzly through the end of this season. The message to Gay at the moment is that if he is dealt by the league's Feb. 21 trade deadline, then the Griz will have been offered a no-brainer scenario.

For example, the Griz have entertained the Washington Wizards' offer for Gay. The crux of that exchange would have the Griz receiving rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal in a larger package. The proposals for Randolph have been even weaker.

All the hallmarks are there. After weeks of tepid interest from teams, a no-brainer deal is floated by a local media outlet. That no-brainer scenario was only “entertained,” weirdly, after pointing out that the only deal Memphis would go after would have to be a “no-brainer.”

In case you’re not following, trading Rudy Gay for Bradley Beal, for the Grizz, would be a “no-brainer.”

This all comes after the most obvious hallmark of these sorts of columns: “Gay is likely to remain a Grizzly through the end of the season.” The “we don’t have to trade him, so, whatever I don’t need this”-gambit.

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Bradley Beal, improving rookie, laces up (Getty Images)

Of course, legally, a deal for Beal involving Gay wouldn’t work. The rookie makes about a quarter of what Rudy makes, so the Wizards would have to throw someone like Emeka Okafor into the mix in order to balance salaries out. Okafor makes just under $14.5 million next season at a position (whether he plays big forward or center) the Grizzlies don’t need help in. They’d still pay the tax they’re trying to avoid by dealing Gay. So maybe, with what little respect we have for the Wizards’ decision-making process, it is possible Memphis did merely entertain and eventually turn down a deal revolving around Bradley Beal.

If none of this makes sense to you, we can’t dismiss with the usual “go get League Pass” haughtiness.

Rudy Gay looks like a fantastic basketball player. The problem is that he doesn’t do anything at a level that goes far above average save for his points per game numbers, which are inflated because he’s allowed to shoot 16.6 times per game at 41 percent from the field. He also doesn’t rebound (just 5.7 per game, below average rebounding rate) or get to the line much (3.8 times a game) for someone often credited as “athletic.” He’s athletic, to be sure, but he doesn’t do much with those gifts save for scoring inefficiently.

Right up Washington’s alley, presumably.

The line about hanging on to Rudy isn’t complete bull, either, because paying the tax with Rudy’s salary in 2012-13 isn’t the team’s biggest concern. The Grizzlies aren’t trying to avoid the tax in order to save money in Robert Pera’s first season as owner. They’re also attempting to trim payroll because repeated trips into luxury tax add to the punitive penalties as the years move along. They’re not trying to break a potential championship contender to save money this year alone or because they don’t really respect Rudy’s game or because he’s overpaid … though none of that hurts.

This is where our classification of a “no-brainer” should be evaluated. The Grizzlies need a low usage player that can hit corner threes and make the extra pass, another shooter and/or creator, and cap relief starting when the 2012-13 tax bill is due at the end of the season. If that comes in the form of a player that has never been mistakenly referred to as an All-Star by Ric Bucher, as Ric did last week during a game because Rudy looks good, then Memphis will take it. Doesn’t have to be for a famous guy. Doesn’t have to be for a rookie stud.

All while Rudy waits, as his game is judged and people like me spend hundreds of words telling you why he’s not an All-Star. No amount of cash in hand can make up for having your game given treatment like this, out in the open, and it certainly doesn’t help the pain caused by a loss in Rudy’s family. Gay will miss Monday’s playoff rematch with the Los Angeles Clippers in order to attend the funeral of his grandmother. Even without that knowledge, considering the trade rumors, his recent exasperated body language is understandable. This can’t be easy.

And it may be five weeks away from a resolution.

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