July is fast approaching now and all but four teams have begun turning their eyes toward the 2013 season and what they can do to be playing on this day a year from now.
Ultimately that means draft preparations, free agency plans and trading ideas as each team figures out who to keep and who to dump to make the team and franchise better.
And that means plenty of guys will surface on the rumor mill in trades. One already has.
Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld reports that the Grizzlies will look into shopping Rudy Gay after the team’s disappointing first round exit. Gay, who signed an extension a few years ago and has nearly $54 million left on his contract for the next three years, is a superb athlete and a borderline star, but a guy who has not quite reached his ceiling or performed up to expectations.
After all, Memphis thought bringing him back from shoulder surgery would make the team a contender after its surprising first round defeat of San Antonio in 2011.
The Grizzlies, having given big extensions to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol now too, need to clear some cap to re-sign Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo and Darrell Arthur. And so Gay might be the odd man out.
There should be plenty of interest too because, frankly, this summer does not have a lot of star power for teams looking to drastically improve.
This summer is going to be one of the deadest in a while. There are not many big-name free agents littering the pool and there is no lockout to help us learn how to keep our books better. Yes, this is going to be a boring summer (thanks, Dwight Howard).
Deron Williams and Steve Nash mark the biggest free agents with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen rounding out an aging group of guys hitting the market. There are a few interesting restricted free agents — such as James Harden and Ryan Anderson — but many believe that you will have to overpay them to wrest them from their current teams.
Deron Williams has a few suitors that have stepped up to the front. And Nash is believed to be drawing interest from numerous teams — including the Bulls, the Knicks and the Nets along with the incumbent Suns.
It seems that if you want to make a splashy move this offseason, you will have to do it through a trade. And there are plenty of prime candidates for that.
Many expect the Magic to move Dwight Howard to avoid the will-he-won’t-he drama that enveloped and consumed the team this past season. Josh Smith is reportedly on the block and looking for a trade out of Atlanta ahead of his free agency. Many suspect Pau Gasol has played his final game as a Laker too.
Gay is just another star player to add to the list.
Of course, taking on Gay and his 19.0 points per game requires making a pretty large commitment. But it is one many teams seem willing to take on. After all, Gay is just 25 years old and a borderline All Star. In the right situation he could continue to flourish.
According to Kennedy, the Warriors, Magic, Nets and Raptors are expected to show interest in the budding young star. It is not quite clear what the Grizzlies would want in return, but expiring contracts is a good bet.
All four of those teams are actually expected to be in play for a lot of the big names that could be moving through free agency and in trades as each is desperate to improve for various reasons — whether it is a new owner, a new arena, a free agent-to-be or general fan apathy.
Whether Gay will end up anywhere is ultimately Memphis’ decision. It is just as likely that he, along with several of the other big names expected to hit the trade market this summer, could stay right where they are.