NBA Trade Rumors: Why Wizards Should Make Strong Push for Rudy Gay

Ryan DavenportContributor IJanuary 26, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 12:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies walks off the court after being defeated 82-80 to the Phoenix Suns following the NBA game at US Airways Center on December 12, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

After a long time of wondering when the rebuilding phase would produce results, it's finally beginning to look like a good time to be a fan of the Washington Wizards.

That's because in the eight games since franchise cornerstone, and former No. 1 overall pick, John Wall returned from the injured reserve, the Wizards are 5-3 (as opposed to 5-28 without him), and have actually shown some signs of promise.

And it looks like they're in the mix to make a move to bring in a high-end scorer that would benefit the team in both the present and future.

According to HoopsWorld's Steve Kyler, though the Wizards are all but eliminated from postseason contention this season, D.C. is still very much in the bidding for Memphis' Rudy Gay:

Sources close to the process peg the Wizards as a front runner in the ongoing Rudy Gay talks with Memphis and that they do have several other situations they are involved in. The Wizards are not sending out rookie Bradley Beal as some have reported, but they do have several pieces that are moveable and attractive.

Martell Webster is one of the lone ending contracts the Wizards have, although both Trevor Ariza (player options) and Emeka Okafor (early termination option) could opt for free agency. Webster is not a high dollar player earning $1.75 million this season.

More than a few league sources peg Jordan Crawford as the chip that is drawing the most interest in return from the Wizards. Crawford is an impact scorer from the bench in the mold of a Jason Terry or Jamal Crawford.

Now, with the assumption that moving Bradley Beal out in favor of Gay is completely out of the question, the first issue for the Wizards will be what will they give up instead?

As Kyler points out, Washington would probably have to part ways with someone like Jordan Crawford, who has been having a solid season of his own offensively—obviously he's expendable if the Wizards can bring in a scorer of Gay's caliber, who's only two years older than Crawford.

After an average rookie campaign in 2006-07, Gay has been a consistent offensive presence for Memphis, averaging no less than 18.9, and no more than 20.1 points per game in the five seasons since.

Last season, Gay also put together a solid postseason debut with the Grizzlies, putting up 19 points in Memphis' seven-game opening round loss to the Clippers.

For the Wizards, who boast the 29th best offense in the league this season, getting a scorer of Gay's caliber is worth giving up a serviceable secondary scorer like Crawford, in addition to a pricier contract such as Trevor Ariza or Emeka Okafor in order to facilitate the trade.

From a basketball perspective, one would think that the Grizzlies would demand a promising young player or a useful veteran outside of Crawford and either Ariza or Okafor—but if the right deal arises, Grunfeld shouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger.

Gay isn't the most efficient offensive player, but in an offense that features a sharpshooter like Beal, he won't need to be launching low-percentage outside shots as frequently.

Ultimately, the Wizards would be getting by far the best player in any Gay trade scenario not involving Beal, and given the team's offensive struggles this year, they couldn't go wrong by dealing for a scorer of his caliber.