NBA Rumors: Timberwolves Show Why Rudy Gay Won't Be Traded Before Deadline

Ethan Grant@DowntownEGAnalyst IJanuary 12, 2013

Jan 4, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay (22) smiles prior to the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center. Memphis defeated Minnesota 90-86. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gay's name is the most popular one at the NBA trade deadline, and that's because he is the best available player on the market.

Despite playing good basketball with the current lineup, the Memphis Grizzlies have decided that Gay's contract—one that will pay him $16 million this season and roughly $37 million over the next seasons—is too much to take on in the wake of the new CBA and what a salary cap hit would be.

Teammates Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have also been mentioned in passing in other trade rumors, but it appears the team wants to keep that core in tact and figure out a new option on the wing in either a potential trade return, the draft or free agency.

After failed attempts with the Phoenix Suns and other teams not taking the bait on Gay, one thing is becoming blatantly apparent—the Grizzlies are likely going to have to eat Gay's salary this season, try to win a championship in the interim and pursue a trade again this summer.

The most recent example of this comes from the Minnesota Timberwolves. According to a report from ESPN 1500 Twin Cities, Gay was offered up to the Timberwolves in a trade scenario, but Wolves GM David Kahn sputtered out a rejection comment faster than the trade could be proposed.

Here's a quote from the piece, with a mind towards the fact that Kahn has long coveted Gay—before he was re-signed to the five-year, $80 million deal in the summer of 2010:

This is Kahn's chance to land a player he has long coveted. But according to a league source, he turned down a trade proposal from Memphis for Gay recently. In fact, the source insists Kahn said no immediately.

For Minnesota, a team that has a blatant need at wing after Brandon Roy's knee struggles and a gaping scoring hole left by Kevin Love's absence, to turn down a trade proposal almost immediately, there's only two things that could have happened.

One: Memphis asked for either Love or Nikola Pekovic in return.

Two: they asked for Ricky Rubio.

And therein lies the problem with Memphis' trade strategy not only in this Gay saga, but in its efforts with O.J. Mayo. Either the asking price is far too high, or other teams recognize that Gay isn't worth an additional $37 million in payroll over the next two seasons in accordance with new league policy.

He's also one of the highest-paid players in basketball by way of yearly salary. The big-name guys like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony command in the $18-20 million range, but at $16.4 million, he's right on the cusp of the Top 10.

Don't get me wrong—there are teams that would love to have Gay in place right now. I can count five off the top of my head, including the Boston Celtics and Rajon Rondo, who, according to this Marc J. Spears report, has been poking in Gay's ear about what he would be like as a starter in Green and White.

Think about teams like the Dallas Mavericks, the Houston Rockets, the Golden State Warriors, the Phoenix Suns. The list goes on. How many of those teams, though, have the kind of salaries to match both Memphis' needs and their own?

When it boils down to the core, a combination of money and Memphis' high asking price will ultimately leave the Grizzlies in the same position as the last two trade deadlines—holding on to a piece they no longer feel motivated to keep.

If Minnesota doesn't feel motivated to make this deal then it won't be right for any of the other 28 teams in the league. Don't get your hopes up on Rudy Gay in another uniform—Memphis won't pull the trigger unless it's a steal.

And in today's NBA, steals only happen on the court.


Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team. Check him out on Twitter.