So this kind of hurt my heart since my beloved Detroit Pistons are already in the process of getting back to the Bad Boys glory days, but Wednesday the Pistons entered into a 3 team- 6Player trade that sent Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince (the last member standing of the 2004 Championship team) to Memphis, and sent Grizzlies star Rudy Gay and center Hamed Haddadi to the Raptors. The Raptors traded Ed Davis and Jose Calderon , where Davis will remain with the Grizzlies but Calderon goes to Detroit (for Prince and Daye). The Grizzlies (clearly the winner in this deal) not only get Davis, Prince, and Daye, but also receives a 2013 2nd round draft pick from the Raptors. The Dallas Mavericks, sources said, were also interested in acquiring Calderon but were not prepared to surrender swingman Vince Carter, whom Memphis coveted to help fill the void created by Gay’s departure.
Memphis general manager Chris Wallace thanked both Gay and Haddadi for their time with the Grizzlies. Wallace said in a statement Wednesday night:
We are excited to add three players who bring with them a tremendous amount of value to our team and have achieved incredible success on the pro, college and Olympic levels. In these players, we welcome NBA Champion and Olympic gold medalist Tayshaun Prince, as well as up-and-coming athletic forwards Ed Davis, who won an NCAA title at North Carolina, and Austin Daye.”
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.
It actually surprises me that a team in great position in the west, would attempt to pull off one of the hardest balancing acts in pro sports: building for next year while trying to continue to win right now. But Memphis will have to change up their offense a little bit and this deal could have done that for them. The Grizzlies attempt less 3 pointers than every other team except one,, so it helps that they picked up shooters (Daye 53% and Prince 43%. ) This is how the NBA’s various interests work. Detroit badly needs a distributor, and despite his many misgivings, Calderon is one of the NBA’s best and he owns an expiring contract that will help the Pistons get far under the salary cap this summer. Memphis saves a huge amount of cash while being able to distribute Gay’s 16.4 shot attempts per game amongst more efficient players, and Toronto … well, I have no idea what the hell Toronto is doing.
The Pistons are 4 1/2 games out of the last spot in the East, with both Boston and Philadelphia reeling. Prince and Daye made no impact on the team’s future plans, so this is an immediate step up, even if the Pistons have to watch as Kyle Singler and Calderon are routinely burned on the defensive end.
And Toronto? Again, we have no idea. Think of this deal for Toronto in terms that exclude specifics. The franchise had a competent point guard with a massive expiring contract and a very talented 23-year-old center who is working on a rookie deal paying him less than half of the NBA’s average salary. They turned those assets into Gay, who they’ll pay more than $37 million to over the next two years. Missteps don’t come much more obvious than this.