The Grizzlies have made the headlines this week in shipping their mercurial small forward Rudy Gay to Toronto and thereby seemingly crippling their chances at a title this season. However, is this really the case? We turn to Grizzlies site Straight Outta Vancouver and Grizz expert Kevin Lipe to find out how things are unfolding in Memphis. Kevin has been slammed with this trade news in the last day, but graciously still took the time to answer our questions.
To read my answers to Kevin's questions, you can go HERE.
1) What is your reaction to the Rudy Gay trade? Can you break down the details?
The details are the easy part, so I'll go over that first: the Grizzlies sent Rudy Gay and fan-favorite Hamed Haddadi to Toronto in return for Jose Calderon, Ed Davis, and a second round pick. Memphis then flipped Calderon to the Detroit Pistons in return for Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye.
So, nuts and bolts, that's what happened. My first reaction is "I am so glad they finally traded Rudy Gay so I don't have to hear trade rumors non stop for the next 21 days." The rumors were starting to become a distraction from everything else going on with this team - the hot start in November and the fact that the team has been 17-13 since that point, the fact that Lionel Hollins is coaching without a contract in place for next year, the struggles on offense. Since December 1, the Grizzlies have had one of the worst offenses in the league. You can't tell me that's not a reason Gay was traded. They had to do something or else they were headed towards a 6 or 7 seed and a first round exit.
My other reaction is still just... numbness. I can believe that the trade happened, but Rudy Gay has (had?) been in a Grizzlies jersey for a long time, and it's going to take a while for the realization that he's gone to sink in.
2) Tell me why you're optimistic heading into the 2nd half of the season.
I'm hoping that the "New Look" Grizzlies can somehow return to the offense that we saw in November. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph dominating in the paint, Mike Conley distributing out of the pick and roll, and now maybe Tayshaun Prince can spread the floor with his shooting. Jerryd Bayless seems to be playing with confidence again, Tony Wroten is starting to develop into a special player. Things have been starting to pick up ever since the trade that sent Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington to the Cavaliers - if only because that trade forced Lionel Hollins to try different lineups.
3) Tell me why you're afraid for what might happen when the playoffs come.
I have no idea how this team is going to play together. That's what I'm afraid of right now: that this new team isn't going to work, and it's going to even worse than the configuration with Rudy Gay.
4) How do you think it effects a potential match-up between OKC and Memphis?
Well, tonight, the new players aren't going to be active, and Rudy Gay isn't on the team anymore, and Quincy Pondexter is still hurt, so I have no idea who's going to guard Kevin Durant. He'll probably score 100 points.
As for the playoffs, looking back to the seven-game series in 2011, I still think this team matches up well with the Thunder. With the new additions, I think this team more closely resembles the team that pushed the Thunder all the way to seven games: Tayshaun Prince can space the floor and shoot 3's and defend much like Shane Battier, and now the Bayless/Wroten combination can come in and create havoc off the bench with Darrell Arthur. I wonder how the lack of Rudy Gay's athleticism will cause problems defending against the Thunder's ridiculous scoring, but in 2011 the Grizzlies didn't have Rudy Gay, either.
I think it's still got potential to be an all-time great, 7 game playoff series, no matter who wins. We'll just have to see how well the New Grizzlies mesh between now and then.
Many thanks to Kevin, and be sure to head over to Straight Outta Vancouver to get the full coverage from the oppposition's point of view.