OK, raise your hand if you, like me, thought last week's "Marreese Speights for nothing in particular" trade - which took Memphis out of luxury-tax land - meant the Grizzlies would keep their core together for the rest of this season. It's easy to understand where you might have gotten that impression. Team management suggested as much after all.
Things didn't work out that way though. The Grizzlies have agreed to send swingman Rudy Gay and backup center Hamed Haddadi to the Raptors in exchange for point guard Jose Calderon and forward Ed Davis. Calderon is headed to Detroit in a second deal, in exchange for Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye.
It's more than a little bit surprising to see a team as good as the Grizzlies - just a couple games out of the third playoff seed in the West - shake things up so aggressively at midseason. New owner Michael Pera's company has been going through a particularly rough patch on Wall Street, which may be a big reason for the sell-off.
The Grizzlies will justify the deal by saying Gay was putting up the worst numbers of his career, has never been an ideal fit in the frontcourt with Zach Randolph, and is a bit of a ball-stopper. They’ll say Prince is a better distributor and three-point shooter and that Davis will help replace Speights in the big man rotation. Sorry guys ... I bought your last explanation, but I'm a bit more skeptical this time. Prince is washed-up; Davis isn't much of an upgrade over Speights or Darrell Arthur; and Daye has yet to prove that he belongs in the league.
The deal may be just as hard to justify from Toronto's perspective, as the Raptors are adding another high-priced player to a roster that already includes the bloated contracts of Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, and Amir Johnson. Even if Gay returns to form, the Raptors won't have a lot of financial flexibility for years to come.
From a fantasy perspective, the player with the most upside is Toronto's Kyle Lowry (94% owned), who won't have to share the point guard job with Calderon any more. Prince (37%) could get a "holy crap, I actually have something to play for this season" boost. And with the trade essentially shipping Detroit's entire small forward depth chart to Memphis, Kyle Singler (7%) could end up shifting back to a position that makes a lot more sense for him. (Does anyone - besides Lawrence Frank - really think Singler is a shooting guard?) That should also free up minutes on the wing for Rodney Stuckey (23%).
It’ll be interesting to see if Frank uses Calderon as his primary point guard or creates a job share between Calderon and Brandon Knight (76%). Knight could also wind up playing off the ball more often, which might be a good thing for him at this stage of his development.
Davis - who had been playing well with Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas sidelined - will be a lot less useful now and should probably be dropped in a lot of leagues.
This deal's impact will also be felt in Boston, as Toronto's trade of Calderon means Lowry won't be available to replace Rajon Rondo (torn ACL). For now, it appears the Celtics will try to get by with their remaining four guards - Avery Bradley (46%), Courtney Lee (26%), Jason Terry (62%), and Leandro Barbosa (4%). Bradley, replacing Rondo as the starting point, and Barbosa, who wasn't a big part of the pre-injury rotation, get the biggest boosts in value, but none of the four is what you'd call a true point guard.
Picks for the Week
Pau Gasol (97%) - Dwight Howard re-injured his shoulder in Wednesday's game. If he needs surgery, he could be done for the year. An extended absence might be exactly what Gasol needs to get back on track.
Danny Granger (78%) - Granger is doing more in practice and seems to be on track for a return before the All-Star break.
Darren Collison (71%) - Crisis averted. Dallas wanted to be the third team in the Memphis/Toronto trade but were unwilling to give up Vince Carter in a deal for Jose Calderon. That eliminates one threat to Collison's playing time - for now. Carter (56%) is also worth owning in most formats, as he's become a very consistent source of threes.
Kyle Korver (64%) - Korver has been getting additional playing time since Lou Williams (knee) was ruled out for the season. He’s been scorching hot from three point range of late.
Michael Beasley (62%) - The shift to Lindsey Hunter as Phoenix’s head coach - whose strength is reportedly player development - seems to be paying big dividends for Beasley. The much-maligned swingman has scored 25 or more points in two of his last three games.
Eric Bledsoe (29%) - Is it just me, or is it time to start worrying that Chris Paul's knee injury is more serious than the Clippers are letting on?
Nate Robinson (24%) - In the midst of an impressive hot streak, Robinson had a team-high 24 points in Wednesday night's 104-88 win over the Bucks. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Aaron Gray (2%) - With Davis in Memphis, Gray becomes the primary backup in Toronto's frontcourt until Jonas Valanciunas returns and shakes things up.
Andrew Nicholson (1%) - Glen Davis broke his foot during Wednesday night's loss to the Knicks, so Jacque Vaughn will need a replacement big in the rotation. This seems a good time for the Magic to take an extended look at Nicholson. Gustavo Ayon (1%) will probably get more playing time as well.