January 31, 2013
By JON KRAWCZYNSKI Associated Press
Rudy Gay is on his way to Toronto in the latest and most dramatic move in the Memphis Grizzlies makeover, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
The Grizzlies agreed to trade their star swingman to the Raptors on Wednesday, parting with the leading scorer on a team that has aspirations of making a run in the powerful Western Conference. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been announced.
The Raptors gave up point guard Jose Calderon and forward Ed Davis in the deal, with multiple reports saying that Calderon was headed to Detroit in the three-team trade. The Pistons will send Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince to Memphis, according to reports.
Gay, averaging 17.2 points and 5.9 rebounds, signed a five-year, $82 million maximum contract in July 2010 with Memphis. The 6-foot-8 small forward is due $16.5 million this season with $37 million more over the next two years. That’s a big number for new owner Robert Pera, who took over the franchise last November and has quickly started addressing the team's salary situation.
Just over a week ago, the Grizzlies sent valuable reserve Marreese Speights and two other players to Cleveland in a move that cleared $6.4 million in salary and avoided a $4 million luxury tax hit this season. Team officials said that move put the Grizzlies in position not to have to make a move this season.
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins had been lobbying to keep his five starters together the rest of this season, but he apparently lost that fight.
“Wow,” Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley tweeted.
Trading away Gay also eases a luxury tax hit due next season, while concentrating the team around center Marc Gasol and All-Star forward Zach Randolph. The Grizzlies had their best playoff run in 2011 when they knocked off then-No. 1 seed San Antonio before losing to Oklahoma City in seven games in the Western semifinals — all with Gay on the bench after needing season-ending shoulder surgery.