Gay was once considered the cornerstone of the small-market franchise but the athletic, 6-foot-8 swingman could become expendable as a new management team in Memphis weighs moving an overvalued asset to create future cost-savings or keeping the team with the league’s fourth-best record intact.
CSN Bay Area’s Ric Bucher recently reported that the Wizards made a “good” offer to the Grizzlies, without mentioning the details. But the Wizards have positioned themselves to take advantage of the new luxury tax penalties by raiding teams looking to deal quality players for expiring contracts, draft picks and/or young prospects.
A source with knowledge of the Wizards’ thinking contended that defining the asset swap required for a talent such as Gay would be an ongoing process. Many around the league have also expressed interest in Gay.
The Wizards (6-28) traded for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza last June because both players have deals that expire in 2014. Okafor or Ariza would likely be needed to facilitate a trade for Gay but the Wizards could also include any of their past first-round draft picks other than John Wall or Bradley Beal.
They have several young big men on the roster with Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely and a scoring guard in Jordan Crawford. The Wizards also could sweeten the pot with a high lottery pick in the upcoming draft.
Gay is owed $37 million over the next two seasons after this one and the Grizzlies face a stiff luxury tax bill by sticking with their current core for the duration of his deal. Memphis reached Game 7 of the conference semifinals the two seasons ago with Gay sidelined with a shoulder injury but lost to the Clippers in the first round when he returned last season.
In Washington, Gay would potentially be a decent perimeter fit with John Wall running point guard and Nene manning the middle, but one source with knowledge of the situation wasn’t certain that the Grizzlies would move Gay before the Feb. 21 deadline, “if at all.”
The Grizzlies have reportedly also spoken with several teams around the league, including Phoenix, Golden State, Sacramento, Boston, Toronto and Minnesota. The Los Angeles Clippers also have some interest in acquiring Gay.
Memphis would be looking to take a cue from Oklahoma City, which already made the difficult decision of trading James Harden to Houston when it was unable to reach a cost-effective agreement.