Latest News, NBA / May 17, 2011 / 12:00 pm

Memphis Owner: “We’re Not Trading Rudy Gay”

Rudy Gay

Rudy Gay, Dime #25

There are two sides to this argument. On one end, there’s a crowd convinced that when 20-point scorer Rudy Gay comes back, he’s going to eat away at Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol‘s dinner plates. Trade him this summer, they say. Memphis is just fine without their former best player. They were in the playoffs.

Then, there’s the other side, led by people like John Hollinger and the Grizzlies’ owner, Mike Heisley, who disagree. Yes, lots of people in the NBA think it’s inevitable that Gay gets traded, both for financial reasons and because this Cinderella playoff run occurred with him strapped to the bench. But in a phone conversation with The Commercial-Appeal, Heisley told the paper’s Geoff Calkins to make it clear: Gay isn’t going anywhere: “Let me tell you something,” said Heisley. “No disrespect to Oklahoma City, but if we had had Rudy Gay, we would have won the bleepity-bleep series going away. I really believe that.”

Strong words, Mike. But hey, if you believe in your squad, why not? The entire city of Memphis is in love with these Grizzlies, and the future looks bright. It’ll come down to what it always does with small-market teams: money, and how long these guys want to hoop together in a place like Memphis.

Gay proved earlier this year that he can play on this team. He wasn’t the problem early in the season when the team started slowly. It took a while to figure out the rotation (like why Xavier Henry was getting minutes ahead of O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen?). During the time just before Gay got hurt, as Hollinger wrote, “…Memphis was 15-6 with a plus-94 scoring margin, and one of the losses came on a 50-foot shot by Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans. Included in that stretch were two of Memphis’s best wins of the season — a 19-point beatdown of the Lakers in Staples Center and a comeback, overtime win in Oklahoma City that yielded Allen’s now-legendary ‘all grit and grind’ postgame interview.” As we broke down earlier this month, there will be a dozen or so teams interested in Gay this summer (Philadelphia?). But, it’s looking doubtful that he goes anywhere.

And why would he? Check out the vitals on the 24-year-old: 19.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 47 percent shooting (40 percent from three). Before he got hurt, Gay had finally turned the corner with his defense and playmaking. He was no longer a ball-stopper on a bad team; he looked like a legitimate All-Star. I remember catching up with Gay at a Nike event in New York City last summer, and we talked a lot about Kevin Durant. As you may know, both are from the Baltimore/D.C. area and many look at them as similar players. Gay didn’t agree with the comparisons, saying he likes to handle the ball and make plays more often than KD. But still, the next step for Gay is doing what KD has done: learning to lead, and then winning in the playoffs. I used to doubt Rudy Gay. But the 54 games he played in this year changed my mind. He can become an All-Star.

As for the other question marks on the Grizzlies’ roster, Heisley told The Commercial-Appeal he’ll bring back Gasol as long as the big man wants to be in Memphis. However, he was a bit more unclear about Mayo and Shane Battier.

On Mayo:

The Grizzlies tried to deal Mayo to Indiana at the trade deadline so it’s natural to speculate that they might think about dealing him again.

Heisley wouldn’t rule out a trade, but he said he’d need to be convinced.

“I was the one guy who didn’t think we should trade O.J. before,” he said. “The reason we finally made the trade, in defense of Chris (Wallace), is that we had a lot more players at the guard position and not as many at the bigger positions. But do I want O.J. back? I want the whole team back. But if someone was going to tell me I could have LeBron James for Rudy Gay, I’d have to make that trade.”

On Battier:

Heisley would love to have Battier back but understands that Battier — an unrestricted free agent — may have other options and priorities.

“I love Shane,” said Heisley. “When we traded for Shane, it was with the intention of keeping him. But more than any person, Shane will make his decision on multiple things. He has the rest of his life to think about. Where does he want to live? I think, basically, that Shane’s next team is up to him.”

How good can this team be at full strength? In the future, this might be the only team in the West that could be in position to hunt down Oklahoma City.

Should Memphis keep Rudy Gay or trade him away?

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  • matt

    yeah, this is the same guy who screwed over van city. He will trade rudy because Marc is gonna get his $$$ this summer + he is more important than gay to memphis. C’s like Marc are hard to find. My raps will give u Bargnani + James Johnson for Rudy Gay.

  • Chaos

    Rudy Gay has to come back. That would have been a serious battle between him and durant. I think they let god of OJ this summer. He just doesn’t fit in witth this squad anyymore. I can see oj goin to the magic or boston.

  • ctkennedy

    in 2-3years …rudy gay can be a top 10 player in the league with all the past stars on their way out…who better u can REALISTICALLY get

  • heckler

    if they keep the Grizz together, this team will be BETTER than the Thunder.

    Thunder fontline is suspect. and so is their bench. i aint sold on them completely yet. and had it not been for a ref miss call, that Denver series might have played out differently (but yes, I know….I didnt and OKC won).

    the Grizz aint no surprise. if anyone paid attention, they showed signs LAST YEAR of being this good. didnt they have like the 3rd, 4th BEST RECORD after the allstar game LAST SEASON?

    and they bought back the same team; basically.

    no one has to worry about the Thunder as much as people think. a HEALTHY Portland team would BEAT THE SHIT outta OKC.

    OKC is gonna be good by default. the conference is not just getting old, its OLD NOW. phoenix, san an, lakers, and mavs are all old right NOW.

    if the GS Warriors get Dwight Howard (possibly in a trade for Monta Ellis — check back with me around February 2012 when this heats up), then the Warriors will/can derail the Thunder too.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    @ Heckler – cosign, great post

  • iCARNACKi

    While I believe that Memphis do indeed want to keep Gay they also need to re-sign a hell of a lot of important parts this off season.

    Gasol is going to cost a lot and Randolph could conceivably ask for a max contract considering the season he and the Grizzlies had and then there’s Shane Battier.

    The only significant contract they can dump that isn’t an integral part to their team is OJ Mayo but his contract is what $5 mil? That doesn’t free up that much really, does it?

    I don’t think Memphis can re-sign Randolph AND Gasol whilst keeping Gay and sadly athletic wings are always easier to come by than productive big men. Memphis might be forced to trade Gay… Cleveland DO still have that trade exception… you have to imagine they’ll be keeping tabs on the situation.

  • iCARNACKi

    Okay so apparently I completely missed the part where Randolph was recently extended to a pretty fair deal for both parties… should make Memphis’ off season quite a bit easier and I can’t see them having any reason to trade Gay.

  • Me

    if they keep this team, they’ll falter next season (like milwaukee this season) and won’t have any flexibility paying people they shouldn’t.

    What they should do:

    1.get rid of conley, but they won’t because they’re idiots.
    2.trade mayo, because they don’t know how to use good guards.
    3.trade gay, any team with him as your star isn’t going anywhere. he’s a #2.
    4.re-sign gasol.
    5. let battier go. nothing against him but this team needs more offense.
    6. find a way to get derrick williams.
    7. find a way to get a 3 point specialist. I don’t care what the numbers say, if u got conley taking 3′s in clutch situations, you have problems.

  • Let’s Go Hawks

    Rudy Gay could wreck the chemistry of the squad. I am not saying he will but it is an option.

    Anyone who says trade Conley is crazy. To do so would ignore the hard work and MAJOR improvement he made. And it is not unrealistic to think he could get better because he easily can. I think he will just because he obviously works hard if he already improved this much.

    Mayo is a better talent than he is showing but Memphis needs his depth.

    Sorry, @heckler. No team, healthy or other wise, is gonna beat the shit out of the thunder. Win? maybe. But they wont crush them. Also, Howard won’t end up in Golden State just because he wouldn’t sign an extension there so Golden State wouldn’t trade for him

  • ShaunP

    Everytime I read on this topic it is just people that dont no anything about the Grizzlies at all. Rudy Gay is an important part of our team. He is great during fast breaks which is how we scored so many of our easy points and lead scoring in the paint this year. We surely missed him in the playoff scoring them easy baskets. He hits the mid range shot lovely and was 39.6% behind the arc. He can take anyone in the NBA off the dribble (Just ask Lebron NBA Defensive 1st Team player when he scored the buzzer beater on him to beat the Heat). Incase you dont get to watch the Grizzlies this is what Rudy Gay can do: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT2GOZNrCzs (sorry not sure why it didnt hyperlink)

    Everyone that is talking about trading Conley you have not seen the progression he has made from last year to this year and with these playoff experinces I cant wait to see what he has next year! We also just signed him to a long term contract so I laugh at yall when you say trade Conley.

    I really dont get where everyone is coming from saying we dont have enough money to keep our team together! We only have to sign Marc and Shane. Marc is getting signed 100%. Zbo told the Owner and GM the only way he signs his new contract if they asure him Marc is coming back and they agreed. Marc is a Restricted FA so we will match the highest offer he gets! Shane he may leave but he does love Memphis but if he leaves we will have Sam Young as back up SF to Rudy Gay so it wont be that big of a lost!
    On to OJ Mayo after his playoff performance it has increased his stocks so for a deal to go though for him we will have to get something good back. When we was trading him at the deadline his stocks was down (because of fighting teammate on the plane, using drugs that lead to a suspension, becoming a backup which he won back in the playoffs) but still with those problems we still was soppose to get a key role player and 1st round pick.

    I would like everyone to know that if we sign Marc (and let Shane do what he wants) we have no contracts coming off the books for 2 years unto 2012-2013 (Mayo & Authur). So we’re in the driver’s seat! Teams have to impress us!

  • superfreak

    @ Me

    that is quite possibly the worse suggestion of things the grizz should do this off season.

  • jen

    “Me,” judging by your comment it appears as though you haven’t watched the Grizzlies in at least two years — how else could you have missed Mike Conley’s development and Gay’s value to the team? I can’t say that I blame you because the Grizzlies aren’t on TV much during the regular season (this will change), but you did get 13 opportunities in the playoffs to see how much Conley has improved under Hollins and how much his teammates. The Grizzlies were on pace to make the playoffs well before Rudy’s injury and it’s unfair to deny his role in getting them there. Especially considering the dead weight on the roster, most notably the #2 pick who spent more time at the mall than on the court. Blowing up the team sounds like something the Heisley who took Thabeet would do, and he’s already shown plenty that he’s learned his lessons.

  • jen

    *how much his teammates, notably Randolph, trust him with running the offense.

  • Stewart

    “Me” apparently doesn’t watch Grizz basketball or is of some relation to David Kahn.

    “ShaunP” great post. I had the Grizz making the playoffs this year and everybody laughed… They make the playoffs and now “Rudy will affect the chemistry….” All this coming from people who clearly don’t watch the Grizz, it is just so amazing how people watch one year of the playoffs and just make a synopsis…just amazing!