As Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported early Tuesday morning, the Toronto Raptors are very interested in acquiring Rudy Gay from the Memphis Grizzlies before the Feb. 21 trade deadline. One of the provisions of the trade, though, is that a third team would have to take on Calderon.
The Grizzlies couldn't possibly take on Calderon's contract, as they are getting rid of Gay to unload the money on his deal. They also dumped salary in the trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers involving Josh Selby, Wayne Ellington and Marreese Speights.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports tweeted out what the Raptors are facing:
Adrian Wojnarowski @WojVerticalNBA
In engagement of 3rd teams for possible Rudy Gay-to-Toronto deal, Raptors struggling to find landing spot for Jose Calderon, sources tell Y!2013-1-29 18:43:14
Calderon is in the final year of a five-year, $45 million contract. He's making $10,561,983 during the 2012-13 season (h/t Spotrac).
Money is a valid concern for other teams. They have a right to be wary of taking on that kind of contract, even if Calderon is set to be a free agent at the end of the season.
The NBA has really strengthened the luxury tax penalties. Teams are able to spend freely and go over the salary cap like they once were.
It would be one thing if Calderon was one of the best point guards in the league. The short-term pain of the financial penalties would be well worth the gain of making a deep run in the postseason, possibly winning a title.
He's only averaging 11.1 points and 7.4 assists per game. They're solid numbers, especially considering that he's playing 28.3 minutes a night, but they're not worth the kind of money that another team would have to pay him.
You also have to account for Calderon's well-known deficiencies on the defensive end of the floor. He's improved slightly, but few point guards are as poor defensively as him.
Calderon is not going to be the kind of difference-maker who can turn a team into a title contender. In addition, there are also too many financial consequences for a poor to middle-of-the-road team to take him on for just this season and let him leave as a free agent.
If the Raptors are dead-set on getting Gay during the regular season, they are going to have to amend their trade demands. It's going to be too much of an uphill battle in order to acquire the Grizzlies forward.
With the Cavs trade, Memphis isn't under the kind of pressure to trade Gay in the immediate future. The Grizzlies can sit back and wait until the season is over.
The Raptors made their bed when they gave Calderon that five-year deal. Now they have to sleep in it.