By: Jeff Rosenberg – Staff Writer (@Jewish_Jeff)
Nice way to kick off what looks to be a busy trade season for the NBA. Wednesday night saw the Memphis Grizzlies officially trade SF/PF Rudy Gay, sending him to the Toronto Raptors along with C Hamed Haddadi. Memphis receives PF/C Ed Davis from Toronto, as Toronto also sends PG Jose Calderon to the Detroit Pistons. Finally, the Pistons send SF/PF Tayshaun Prince and SF/PF Austin Daye to the Grizzlies. For a better visual, see below:
PF/C Ed Davis (Toronto)
SF/PF Tayshaun Prince (Detroit)
SF/PF Austin Daye (Detroit)
SF/PF Rudy Gay (Memphis)
C Hamed Haddadi (Memphis)
PG Jose Calderon (Toronto)
A huge three-way trade that certainly changes things for fantasy basketball owners.
First of all, the Raptors acquire a guy that they consider their first superstar player since Chris Bosh took his talents to South Beach. Rudy Gay should see a nice bump in points. I believe he’ll go from 17.2 points per game, to easily over 20.0 per game in Toronto. Gay’s arrival obviously presents issues for DeMar Derozan owners and Alan Anderson speculators, as both are expected to lose touches, and ultimately points, their main draws. This could be a great change of scenery for Gay, as the Raptors will most certainly make him their first option. In Memphis Gay was considered the superstar but was surrounded by a lot higher skilled and overall better talent in PF/C Zach Randolph, C Marc Gasol and PG Mike Conley. Talent that will be clearly absent in Toronto.
With Ed Davis out, both C Jonas Valanciunas and PF/C Andrea Bargnani will gain momentum upon their returns from injury. Bargnani figures to take the starting center role, but Valanciunas will get good minutes as well, likely 22-25 minutes per game, as the next big man off the bench. PF/C Amir Johnson will end up holding his value from what he’s been doing in their absence, staying as the starting PF. C Aaron Gray holds value until the return of either Bargnani or Valanciunas, as he will start in the interim. Once both return, Gray will likely be on the outside looking in, but still ahead of Hamed Haddadi who will remain irrelevant with the move from Memphis to Toronto.
The clear winner on the Toronto Raptors will be PG Kyle Lowry. Lowry, who is currently averaging 13.5 points and 5.8 assists on 27 minutes per game, played 30 minutes Wednesday night with Calderon on the bench, and figures to see more games than not with 30+ minutes for the rest of the season. The Grizzlies’ former 24th overall pick out of Villanova is finally free in Toronto, and now becomes a must-start player in all fantasy formats.
For what it’s worth, PG Jerry Lucas will now be Lowry’s sole backup at point guard. Wednesday night, Lucas logged 24:02 minutes with 19 points and two assists on 8-16 shooting. I’m not confident in him seeing this much playing time routinely going forward, but he may be someone to watch in deeper formats.
While Memphis will end up just fine in terms of depth on their team, they unquestionably gave up the best player in the deal, sending Gay to Toronto. Ed Davis is a bright young big man who will develop nicely behind Randolph and Gasol, while Prince brings veteran leadership, a championship ring and experience guarding the best player the opposition has, which will all prove useful during the Grizzlies’ 2013 playoff run. It’s no secret however, the ownership group in Memphis (which is made up of more than 20 partners including Justin Timberlake, Penny Hardaway, Peyton Manning’s wife Ashley and controlling partner Robert Pera) was concerned with the team hitting the luxury tax both this season and next, as they completed a huge salary dumping lob-sided trade last week sending PF Marreese Speights, guards Josh Selby and Wayne Ellington, as well as a 2015 first round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for forward Jon Leur. The trade with Cleveland cut over $4.5M in salary this season, and saved an additional $4M from the luxury tax.
Ed Davis comes in and will fill the role that Speights had during his days in Memphis. Davis will serve as the first big off the bench for the Grizzlies, backing up Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, seeing his minutes cut from 33:21 over the last 30 days likely dropped to about 20-22 per game as he drops from the Toronto starting lineup to the Memphis bench. He has lost his guaranteed starter role on your squad, and is likely now cut-able in all but the deepest of leagues.
I have noticed some rumblings about Tayshaun Prince’s value being on the rise in this deal, but I’m not buying it. Prince, the final remaining member of the 2003-04 NBA Champion Pistons (since Ben Wallace retired this past offseason), leaves Detroit for Memphis in the three-way deal. Prince will keep his starting SF role as he makes the move to Western Tennessee, and will likely keep the same 32:30 average minutes per game. With the move, I don’t see any major stat changes coming from Prince. In his 11th NBA season at age 32 (33 in February), Prince is not as sure a shooter nor as solid defensively as he once was. He’ll also have to adjust for the first time in his career to a brand new team. While Prince enjoyed his best days on a team just as deep as this Grizzlies team, Prince will likely continue to post the pedestrian numbers we’ve seen this season with Detroit.
Austin Daye, the Pistons’ 15th overall pick from the 2009 draft, will continue to be fantasy irrelevant as he retains his 14:30 minutes per game as a three-point specialist in Memphis.
While the Pistons’ acquisition of Jose Calderon may sound confusing to many, it really sets the team up quite nicely for this coming off-season. Calderon comes to Detroit with an expiring $10.5M contract, combined with a slew of other contracts Detroit has coming off the books at the end of the year, which will leave the team clearing about $26M heading into the off-season (Hi Dwight!).
Calderon owners, unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. Calderon, unlike former teammate Kyle Lowry, will not be freed upon being traded to Detroit. He will keep his starting role, mostly in title only, as he’ll be entrenched in a new platoon with Pistons’ 8th overall pick from 2011, Brandon Knight. Calderon will likely continue doing what he’s been doing all season, which is a very effective 11.1 points, 7.4 dimes and excellent percentages in 28 minutes. While his minutes could take a slight dip with the platoon, and the scenario in Detroit won’t present the opportunities Calderon would have had if he was traded to the Boston Celtics, Calderon still remains a must-own point guard with Detroit.
SG/SF Kyle Singler may have just gotten the break of a life time. Wednesday night, with Prince and Daye out of the rotation, Singler started at small forward and played just over 30 minutes. Singler’s the early favorite to see added minutes in the rotation, although he didn’t quite show up for his big opportunity Wednesday going 5/4 with two blocks, two steals and a three.
PG/SG Rodney Stuckey is the likely candidate to draw the starting shooting guard role in the back court with Calderon. Stuckey had been receiving 28 minutes before the trade, and will likely retain the same value he has, little-to-none in all but the deepest of formats, going forward.
PG/SG Brandon Knight will be involved in the back-end of the platoon with Calderon at point guard. His minutes will likely take a hit from 32 minutes a game down closer to 25 minutes a game. He should see some time at shooting guard backing up Stuckey as well. While I may not dump Knight just to dump him today, he’s a guy to move to the bottom of your team’s value list that you could comfortably cut if the right free agent presents himself.
PF Charlie Villanueva is a guy I recommend you add to your watchlist. While he hasn’t performed nearly like he did for the Milwaukee Bucks a few years ago, he has been a solid source of threes for the Pistons this season. With Prince and Daye both shipped out and no incoming forward, Villanueva could see some time at the small forward position. Villanueva was looking like he was trending up at the end of December, but has fallen off the table this month. This could be a chance for him to right the ship in Detroit, if he’s given the opportunity. Keep an eye out!