As the NBA trade deadline approaches on Feb. 21, multiple high-profile players could be on the move.
Rudy Gay’s name has been popping up in multiple trade rumors in recent weeks. The latest report states that the small forward is the target of the Toronto Raptors.
Marc Stein of ESPN is reporting that the Memphis Grizzlies are having discussions with Toronto about a possible deal. Sources have told ESPN.com that the Raptors have been making a “hard push” for Gay.
Several teams have reportedly shown interest in Gay, including the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets, but the Raptors may be the most determined to make a trade. According to Stein, Toronto isn’t averse to trading some of their top players. The club is willing to deal Jose Calderon and Ed Davis for the swingman.
Both players would contribute to the Grizzlies, but neither would, likely crack the starting lineup. Mike Conley has started every game that he’s played for Memphis since 2009. Davis is improving in his third season, but wouldn’t take playing time away from Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
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If the Raptors can’t make a trade directly with the Grizzlies, they may look to include other teams in a potential deal. Sources tell Stein that the club would make point guard Kyle Lowry and seven-footer Andrea Bargnani available.
Bargnani has been a disappointment since being selected in 2006. He’s missed a lot of playing time in recent years because of injuries. This season, he’s averaging 16 points per game on 39.8 percent shooting in just 21 games.
Toronto has been trying to execute a trade with Memphis, despite CEO Jason Levin’s comments that the team probably won’t make any more moves. A week ago, Memphis sent Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a future first-round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Jon Leuer. The trade was made to give Grizzlies some salary cap relief.
The Grizzlies may have to eventually trade Gay. It will be difficult for the organization to pay him, Randolph, Gasol and Conley, while still being able to have flexibility under the salary cap rules. The four players are making over $54 million combined this season.
Of all the players that Memphis has signed for multiple years, Gay might be the most expendable. Even with the small forward out for much of the 2010-2011 season, the club upset the top seeded San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs, and came one game away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals.
Through 44 games this season, the Grizzlies are 29-15, and hold the No.4 seed in the West.