The Memphis Grizzlies woke up the league from a sleepy trade season with a salary-cutting deal of Wayne Ellington, Marreese Speights, Josh Selby, and a 2015 top-5 protected pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Jon Leuer and a fast-track to getting $6 million under the luxury tax line.
While this trade might not look like much at the league-level, it raises a couple of questions:
1) Does this mean the Rudy Gay-to-Washington talk is over?
2) Had the Wizards not traded for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza this past summer, could they have been in the position to buy depth and picks, as the Cavaliers did?
For the first question, maybe it's not over. According to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld, Jordan Crawford is drawing some interest around the league -- including in Memphis:
More than a few league sources peg Jordan Crawford as the chip that is drawing the most interest in return from the Wizards. Crawford is an impact scorer from the bench in the mold of a Jason Terry or Jamal Crawford. He also doesn't earn much by NBA standards, scheduled to earn just $1.19 million this season.
Webster and Crawford combined with say Trevor Ariza creates an outgoing trade package worth $10.20 million. Not quite enough to land Gay outright without a third team getting involved, but enough outgoing salary to make a move or two as the trade deadline approaches.
If the season ended today the Wizards would have the worst record in the NBA and a shot at the top overall pick, which could be an interesting trade chip if they opted to part with it.
The rumors at Hoopsworld aren't always solid, but Memphis and Washington have been mentioned together a lot over the past few weeks. Taking Bradley Beal out of the picture (because, I mean, come on), a trade of Crawford and Ariza and another piece for Gay doesn't look to bad, does it? Would you do it, even if it cost the team a guaranteed top-4 lottery pick?
As for the second question, I would answer it with a resounding "Yes." Instead of buying out Rashard Lewis's contract, the front office decided to get a little more return on their investment and flipped Shard for Okafor and Ariza. While both have had their bright moments, the Wizards' woes with injuries and rotation fluctuations (not to mention their hefty guaranteed salaries over the next two years) made these two additions a bit painful to swallow for Wizards fans.
It's clear that there are some depth issues that need to be addressed in Washington in the coming months, but you'd have to assume they'd be a little easier to address if the team had a little more flexibility.