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Rudy Gay Done in Memphis

October 20, 2011

There’s a lot of excitement in Memphis these days and, for once, it has nothing to do with John Calipari. The Memphis Grizzlies upset the San Antonio Spurs in the first round as an eighth seed last season. Then they pushed the Oklahoma City Thunder to 6 games, which included a 3OT thriller in game 4. All this was done with dynamic scorer Rudy Gay wearing a sling on the bench. While he appears to be fully recovered from shoulder surgery, Gay’s return to the lineup might not be so rosy. I think Rudy’s days in Memphis are numbered.


The Grizzlies have been going through a transformation the past couple of years, last season especially. On Opening Night 2010 they were the same old perimeter-happy bunch with scorers Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo jackin’ up shots. But by the end of the season they were a disciplined, inside-out team exclusively featuring Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. They went to the 2nd round of the playoffs without one wing scorer. Not only is that impressive, but it speaks volumes for what ultimately wins games in April/May/June. With Gay returning to the lineup next season, many think this team will go to the next level. It’s not that simple, peeps. You don’t just insert his 20+pts into the boxscore and start adding to the win column…it’s not a fantasy league. The entire identity of the Memphis Grizzlies has changed and, unless he is ready to completely change his game (as well as his monster contract extension), Rudy will be traded by midseason.


Being re-inserted into the starting lineup next season will be an uphill struggle for Rudy Gay, and it will have nothing to do with his shoulder strength. I don’t have anything against Gay as a player, it’s just not a good fit anymore in Memphis. The team has gone in a different direction for both productivity as well as leadership. This is Z-Bo’s and Gasol’s team now, and everyone there knows it. To be fair, it was never really Rudy’s team to begin with. He just happened to be the leading scorer on a young squad. A change of scenery is probably the best thing for both parties involved here. Gay can still put up points but he needs to go someplace where he can establish a leadership role. Lionel Hollins‘ group is all stocked up in that department now (add Mike Conley Jr. and Tony Allen to this list). Don’t get me wrong, the ‘Grizz’ do need perimeter scoring. What they don’t need, however, is the volume-shooting or ball-holding of Rudy Gay. They could use a spot-up shooter and also a guy who can ‘catch n go’ of the dribble, decisively (picture a ‘George Karl-type’ player). I think swingman Courtney Lee (via trade) would look great here or, if they can afford him, free agent guard Shannon Brown. Hey, maybe last year’s lottery pick Xavier Henry could develop into that kind of player. Either way, the long-term fit is not Rudy Gay…especially considering he will make over $15 million per year for the next 4 years.


Memphis clearly overpaid Rudy Gay when he was a free agent last summer, under pressure of the impending ‘free agent-a-palooza’ that I call The Insurrection. Now, that decision is coming back to haunt this franchise considering that Marc Gasol is a restricted free agent and looking to get paid. We all know what’s going to happen here…a team with cap-space (whatever that means post-Lockout) will throw big money at Marc and the Grizzlies will quickly match it. The second the ink dries on that deal you can pretty much book Rudy Gay on a flight out of town. Oh, and don’t be surprised if you see the same team that offered Gasol that contract go and acquire Gay later…a move that former Grizz president Jerry West made famous. Offer one restricted free agent a large contract with the real plan of signing another guy from the same roster later. That team’s $ is all tied up, leaving the guy you really want available. It’s NBA front office poker. In this case, Memphis would get something in return as Rudy is under contract. They might even be able to piece together perimeter guys that fit their system in any Gay trade. That would be ideal for the Grizzlies.


I am convinced that Rudy Gay is not long for the FedEx Forum. In a quiet and ‘non-L.A.’ kind of way, the Grizzlies team has moved on…..and until Rudy moves on too there will only be friction in Memphis.


{for more Memphis Grizzlies coverage checkout their Team Page}

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14 Responses to Rudy Gay Done in Memphis

  1. hakeem on October 30, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Who would the Grizz get in return? ? that’s a lot of points to make up in the lineup.

  2. Chip on October 31, 2011 at 7:06 am

    I agree with you about moving Gay, but you can’t just give him away. And you definitely can’t get equal value for him. Plus, how will u find a matching contract with his ridiculous extension?! it can’t be done…..

  3. ForeignFlopper on October 31, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    As both Chip and hakeem have pointed out, who can the Grizzlies get in return who is of at least equal value? While many people love to point out the Grizzlies’ success without Rudy, people forget how good they were with Rudy. More importantly, the Grizzlies were frankly lucky to match up with the Spurs in the first round. Yes, we defeated the Spurs and took the Thunder to 7 games, but we continually failed to close out in the latter half of the series because we lacked someone of Rudy’s calibur on the wing. Zach and Marc’s production steadily declined throughout the 2nd round, because the Thunder were able to crowd us down low. There’s no way that happens with Rudy in the lineup. Further, guys like Tony Allen and Sam Young stepped up their games in Rudy’s absence. Can they do that consistently for an entire season. Tony’s always been a great defender, but in Boston he struggled on offense. Finally, lets not forget how durable Rudy has been throughout his career. While his contract is a bit of burden, I feel good knowing that we have a guy who can perform at an All-Star level locked up in his prime.

    • KNEZ on October 31, 2011 at 7:46 pm

      Foreign Flopper, I’m feelin’ the name big time. Vlade Divac was my favorite player growing up…..
      You’re exactly right. I think they overachieved with the wings they had in the playoffs, Tony Allen’s lack of shooting is exploited as a starter, but off the bench he’s dynamite. I also agree that Rudy isn’t overpayed considering his abilities (I left him off our “scariest NBA contracts” Halloween post recently). But I just feel like the team has gone in another direction in his absence and that he doesn’t fit with who they are now (style of play, team chemistry/roles). Actually, the Rudy Gay issue has inspired a bigger story that I hope to post this week. Come back and check it out, you might like what I come up with as a possible solution for the ‘Grizz’ (obvious teaser). -Knez

  4. Matt on November 21, 2011 at 4:39 am

    Yes! finally one post that “Ben R” didn’t comment on.
    Geez, that guy is a doosh.

  5. Dowty on November 27, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    lets first deal w/ marc gasol

  6. Lyman6610 on November 29, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Interesting take. I guess they are more of a post-dominated team now and Gay is a one-on-one guy out there on the wing. But I don’t want to give him away just yet

  7. Herrero48 on November 30, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Battier is a Free Agent and Tony Alen has no J, we need Gay

  8. Eron229 on December 1, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I agree 100%. It’s time we move Gay, but I don’t think we can get adequate value in return in a shortened free agency window.

  9. Yasutake on December 4, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Wallace says we’re keeping Rudy. I’m not so sure.

  10. Austin on December 13, 2011 at 6:23 am

    Knez. It’s a bit early for this call. Let us see how Rudy fits in early on with Z-Bo and the newly paid Marc Gasol.. A

  11. You Serious? on December 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    are you serious? you offered absolutely no soecific reason as to why Rudy couldnt fit in and realize that we do run our offense through Z-Bo. What was the grizzlies downfall against the Thunder? They didnt have a gotdam perimiter scorer to match KD. We didnt have anybody to take that lost shot if the game was on the line. He drained a game winner in Lebron’s face last year. Your article gave no reason as to why they would be better without him. They were on a nice run where they won 9 of 13 games before Rudy got hurt. Two thumbs way down on this one. Do you even watch the grizzlies?

    • Martin Knezevic on December 22, 2011 at 8:40 am

      Wow, tell me how you really feel? I hear you…Rudy Gay IS a super-talent. And I agree with you also that he would’ve helped tremendously last yr in the playoffs. But this is a style of play issue to me. Gay has never played in a post-dominated offensive system, he’s always been option #1 on the wing. I’m weary of his ability to adjust to this change over an entire season. Making max-money on that extension is also a factor in my thinking. I hope I’m wrong, but I just see writing on the wall here. If Rudy was in his 30′s chasing a ring I could picture him fitting in w/ a newer style of play…but not the young Gay still trying to reach his All-Star potential. For now, though, it looks like the Grizz main problem is replacing backup PF Darrell Arthur…who would you pick-up (Speights? Cunningham? other?).

  12. Adler on January 30, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Even though he had only 1 pt last night vs San Anton he’s still the face of the franchise…till Zach returneth.

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