The rumor mill had so much fun late last year with the Wizards shipping Bradley Beal for James Harden that it has now spit out another alleged swap. This time the notable NBA player is, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, high-scoring small forward Rudy Gay. The supposed crux of the deal, just like the Harden rumor, involves Beal.
Personally, I had a hard time believing the Wizards could actually acquire Harden based on the package Oklahoma City actually received from Houston for the bearded Olympian. The NBA-title seeking Thunder simply picked up more current help in that pursuit while adding picks for the long haul. Not saying there should not have been a kicking of the tires level discussion by the Wizards - and arguably a step beyond - at the time even if Beal was the desired target.
That's not the case at all regarding Gay, not the way the 19-year-old Beal's game has developed over the last few weeks and not with Gay's behemoth of a contract (Beal will make slightly more money over this first four seasons than Gay will next year). Comcast SportsNet's Chris Miller tweeted that sources suggest a deal with Beal doesn't make sense. After poking around, my spidey sense concurs.
Not to mention, it seems doubtful that the Western Conference-contending Grizzlies are actually going to deal him. From the Commercial Appeal article:
"According to a person with knowledge of those conversations, Gay is likely to remain a Grizzly through the end of this season. The message to Gay at the moment is that if he is dealt by the league's Feb. 21 trade deadline, then the Griz will have been offered a no-brainer scenario."
A no-brainer scenario is what many took the Harden talk to be considering the wing guard with the old school game has already shown high-end ability in the game of basketball's highest level. When the rumor hit the mainstream around a month into the season, Harden's scoring surges with the Rockets had already become a league talking point.
At the same time, Beal's struggles mirrored the team's, only adding fuel to the fire being set all over town by disgruntled fans and others with loud megaphones. Now the kid with the textbook jumper is assertively knocking down shots, even with the game on the line.
Certainly there are reasons why the 26-year-old Gay, a Baltimore native, makes for an attractive option. The ability to score a truckload of points on a regular basis comes to mind. Washington's current small forward rotation of Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza offers a decent offense-defense combination and the young trio of Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton also receive minutes in that spot, though collectively they are not above being replaced.
Besides involving Beal, there are other problems with the deal, notably on the Grizzlies end. The reason why Memphis is even debating breaking up its imposing roster is the dreaded luxury tax, a payment it's on course to make with Gay and Zach Randolph pulling down major coin. For a deal with Washington to work from a salary cap perspective, Emeka Okafor's hefty deal (approximately $14.5 million next season) would likely be included, which neither helps the frontcourt-heavy Grizzlies on the court or with their financial ledger.
As for Gay himself, this section from a Yahoo!Sports.com post nicely articulates why despite the Baltimore native's scoring knack he's not exactly a franchise paper.
"Rudy Gay looks like a fantastic basketball player. The problem is that he doesn’t do anything at a level that goes far above average save for his points per game numbers, which are inflated because he’s allowed to shoot 16.6 times per game at 41 percent from the field. He also doesn’t rebound (just 5.7 per game, below average rebounding rate) or get to the line much (3.8 times a game) for someone often credited as 'athletic.' He’s athletic, to be sure, but he doesn’t do much with those gifts save for scoring inefficiently."
Finally and perhaps most importantly if you're the Wizards, why ship Beal? Not saying the Wizards should deem him untradeable, but considering Beal's cheap rookie contract, his significant upside and John Wall just now returning to the lineup, let the backcourt of the future play out.
At the very least there should be many fewer people screaming for this type of deal based on the way Beal has played lately.