Memphis has been looking for a way to get under the luxury tax line for this season — they may have just found it without shipping Rudy Gay out the door.
The trade sends Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a protected 2015 first-round pick to Cleveland for Jon Leuer.
For Memphis, this is all about the money. It is a cash dump. They are about $4 million over the NBA’s luxury tax line and this deal saves the a little more than $4 million, moving them under the line as payers.
One of the reasons Rudy Gay was being shopped around was to save money, this saves the cash while keeping the team’s core players intact for a playoff run. No Rudy Gay trade, no Zach Randolph trade. For now. Look for Gay to be shopped around more this summer.
For Cleveland, this is about getting some help on the front line with Anderson Varejao now ruled out for the season. Speights is a solid NBA big man, but one nobody sees because he is buried behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. But Speights has given Memphis 6.6 points and 4.7 rebounds a game with an above average PER of 16.2.
Speights has a $4.5 million player option for next season and could veto the trade due to Bird Rights considerations, but that would be a surprise. The lightly used young guard Selby is still on his rookie deal.
Leuer, the forward out of the University of Wisconsin in his second NBA season, has played in just nine games for Cleveland. He may play less for Memphis.
The move brings the Grizzlies under the NBA roster league minimum, so look for a D-League call up or some other inexpensive addition to the roster.