Wizards

Rudy Gay heads to Toronto in Grizzlies' makeover

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Rudy Gay heads to Toronto in Grizzlies' makeover

Rudy Gay is on his way to Toronto in the latest and most dramatic move in the Memphis Grizzlies' money-motivated makeover.

The Grizzlies agreed to trade their star swingman to the Raptors on Wednesday, parting with the leading scorer on a team that has aspirations of making a run in the powerful Western Conference.

The Raptors gave up point guard Jose Calderon and forward Ed Davis in the deal that also included Grizzlies backup center Hamed Haddadi, and Memphis then shipped Calderon to Detroit for Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince.

``Players like this don't come along that often in terms of their availability,'' Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo said of Gay. ``This was a very unique circumstance. We feel like we took advantage of it.''

Memphis general manager Chris Wallace didn't mention finances in a statement issued Wednesday night, but there is no doubt they played a big role in the decision.

``We are excited to add three players who bring with them a tremendous amount of value to our team and have achieved incredible success on the pro, college and Olympic levels,'' Wallace said in a statement Wednesday night. ``In these players, we welcome NBA Champion and Olympic gold medalist Tayshaun Prince, as well as up-and-coming athletic forwards Ed Davis, who won an NCAA title at North Carolina, and Austin Daye.''

The moves surprised many around the league, including Calderon and Prince.

``It's been my home for eight years,'' Calderon said in Atlanta, shortly before leaving the arena. ``I've done everything possible for this team. It's tough. The fans have been with me since Day 1. It's tough.''

Prince and Daye have both spent their entire careers with Detroit, and Prince was the last link to the proud championship team of 2003-04.

``Trading a player like Tayshaun Prince, who has meant so much to our organization and contributed to our championship success, is never easy,'' Pistons president Joe Dumars said in a statement. ``We want to thank Tayshaun for his professionalism and contributions over the last 10 years. We also appreciate everything that Austin Daye has done for our team both on and off the court over the past three-plus years.''

Gay, averaging 17.2 points and 5.9 rebounds, signed a five-year, $82 million maximum contract in July 2010 with Memphis. The 6-foot-8 small forward is due $16.5 million this season with $37 million more over the next two years. That's a big number for new owner Robert Pera, who took over the franchise last November and has quickly started addressing the team's salary situation.

Just over a week ago, the Grizzlies sent valuable reserve Marreese Speights and two other players to Cleveland in a move that cleared $6.4 million in salary and avoided a $4 million luxury tax hit this season. Team officials said that move put the Grizzlies in position not to have to make a move this season.

Memphis coach Lionel Hollins had been lobbying to keep his five starters together the rest of this season, but he apparently lost that fight. It's a significant move for a team that was fourth in the Western Conference and three games behind the third-place Clippers.

``Wow,'' Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley tweeted.

Trading away Gay also eases a luxury tax hit due next season, while concentrating the team around center Marc Gasol and All-Star forward Zach Randolph. The Grizzlies had their best playoff run in 2011 when they knocked off then-No. 1 seed San Antonio before losing to Oklahoma City in seven games in the Western semifinals - all with Gay on the bench after needing season-ending shoulder surgery.

``Wow that was 1 crazy trade today,'' Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins tweeted. ``Are you serious Rudy Gay is right there under KD, Lebron, Kobe, and Melo. (hashtag)badtrade.''

They do run the risk of upsetting the chemistry on a tight-knit group, even if there were some questions of how Gay's scoring fit in with the ball-dominant frontcourt of Gasol and Randolph.

But there may be more deals like this one coming in the new NBA economy.

The collective bargaining agreement negotiated after last year's lockout makes the penalties for exceeding the salary cap far more punitive, and the system begins in earnest next season. Playing in a smaller market, the Grizzlies don't have the extra revenue from lavish television contracts like teams in Los Angeles or New York, which makes it that much more difficult to go over the cap. But even teams such as the Lakers and Bulls will likely have to be more responsible with their spending under the new deal, where repeat offenders are taxed at rates that multiply with each consecutive year they go over the cap.

The first domino fell before the season, when Oklahoma City sent James Harden to Houston instead of signing him to a big-money extension, and more are sure to follow.

All told, the Grizzlies shaved nearly $40 million over the next three years after the two trades.

They'll get a hard-nosed defender in return in Prince, the 32-year-old forward who was drafted by the Pistons in the first round in 2002. He is averaging 11.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game this season.

``Shocked obviously,'' Prince said after the Pistons played the Pacers. ``I didn't find out, obviously, until I got here. I'm shocked, but it's a business and you never know what's going to happen.''

Calderon joined the Raptors from Spain in 2005 and has been a fan favorite and trusted veteran on the team. He is averaging 11.1 points and 7.4 assists this season for the Raptors (16-29), who are desperately trying to scratch their way into the playoff picture. Toronto was in 11th place before the games were played Wednesday, 5 1/2 games behind Boston for the eight seed.

Calderon and Davis had both been starting for the Raptors, but they do have Kyle Lowry waiting in the wings at point guard and likely see Gay's scoring punch as the key to vaulting back into the discussion in a mediocre conference.

Coach Dwane Casey will have to deal with a bit of a log jam with Gay, DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Landry Fields and Alan Anderson as wing players with similar skill sets. But getting a player with Gay's natural scoring talent, even at the expense of parting with a valued player like Calderon, proved too enticing to pass up.

``Hopefully this team is back to the playoffs as soon as possible,'' Calderon said.

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AP Sports Writers Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tenn., Larry Lage in Detroit and freelance writer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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The Bradley Beal All-NBA Dilemma: How NBA execs would handle the big question facing the Wizards

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The Bradley Beal All-NBA Dilemma: How NBA execs would handle the big question facing the Wizards

“How do you get a player better than Brad if you trade Brad?”

That brain-busting question from a current NBA general manager came before the February 7 trade deadline when rumors involving Wizards guard Bradley Beal swirled.

Another migraine-inducing conundrum is forthcoming whether Beal receives All-NBA honors or not.

Should the league’s upcoming announcement of its first, second and third team include the two-time All-Star, the Wizards may have no choice but to break up the backcourt pairing with John Wall that fueled the franchise’s most sustained success since winning the 1978 title.

This honor comes with a financial reward-- if extended to Beal by the Wizards --  in the form of a supermax contract worth approximately $193 million over four years that would begin in 2021-22. He still has two years and $56 million remaining on the valued five-year, $127 million deal he signed in 2016.

The issue is less about Beal’s hefty chunk of the Wizards’ salary cap, but combining it with Wall’s four-year, $170 million supermax deal that begins next season. Offer Beal the supermax and, should he accept, approximately 71 percent of the team’s future salary cap beginning in the 2021-22 season would be chewed up by two players.

Beal and Wall, when healthy, are All-Stars. They’re not Jordan and Pippen.

NBC Sports Washington spoke with over a dozen league sources in recent weeks including three current or former general managers, other executives, NBA coaches, and scouts, about Beal’s contract situation and the Wizards’ overall equation coming off a 32-50 campaign.

Some dutifully tried putting themselves in the mindset of Washington’s next front office leader knowing Beal’s contract status and other limiting or uncertain factors.

The executives shared opinions on whether to boldly hold or sell high on the Wizards’ best player. Regardless of their stance, their initial instinct almost unanimously landed in the same place as this current lead executive: “I have no idea what you would do.”

*****

There’s an incredibly strong argument for doing nothing. How do you get a player better than Brad if you trade Brad?

Several NBA sources largely acknowledge the choice almost gets removed from the Wizards front office should Beal receive the All-NBA nod. Even if Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson or Ben Simmons trump Beal in the voting, events from early February may effectively force the Wizards’ hand.

Washington faced its second consecutive luxury tax payment, diminishing playoff hopes and the knowledge that Wall would miss the rest of the season with a heel injury.

Despite those negatives and salary cap concerns with only five players catapulting the team over next season’s salary cap, big picture hope existed. The headliners -- Wall, Beal and Otto Porter -- previously put the Wizards in a playoff contender mode. “We're not trading any of those players,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said at the time.

There’s a good reason to believe Leonsis meant what he said. Then life intervened and forced change.

Wall’s left Achilles ruptured during the first week of February. The recovery time means an entire calendar year and perhaps the full 2019-20 season. Those negatives, especially with the salary cap, were now amplified.

Washington dealt with that financial scenario two days after the Wall status update by trading Porter and Markieff Morris to slide under the luxury tax.

Another life event requiring a financial decision could happen this week.

*****

There’s no debating whether Beal is worthy of the All-NBA accolade. Some believe he is a favorite to snag one of the two guard spots on the third-team.

The dilemma is can the Wizards justify offering a contract with those hefty terms knowing what’s already on the books, plus the upcoming challenges.

Pass and the likelihood of trading Beal at peak value becomes a leading option. Hold Beal regardless and his trade value effectively decreases over the next two seasons with the possibility he leaves as a 2021 free agent without compensation.

“The Wizards is a hard job right now,” a former GM told NBC Sports Washington. “There’s a lot to figure out. Timelines can’t be certain with John Wall in particular. For Bradley Beal, that's a decision… Hard to walk in [to those interviews) with a specific plan.”

Leave the supermax contract off the table and the human element arises. Those familiar with Beal’s mindset do not see a Robin to Wall’s Batman. Co-headliners, cool, but then pay and appreciate accordingly. Maybe folks could start referring to the pair as Beal and Wall once in a while.

Forget the money, which isn’t Beal’s driving motivation. As one source familiar with Beal’s thinking stated, “Brad needs to be in the playoffs. He’s not disruptive...Brad just wants to win.”

The Wizards might not be in playoff position next season even if Beal maintains his All-NBA level. It's a near lock they won't if the 2012 first-round pick is traded.

Beal averaged 30.9 points in February, the same month he dropped a season-high 46 at Charlotte and his All-NBA buzz soared. Beal joined 2019 MVP finalist James Harden as the only players this season to average at least 25 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.5 steals.

The wing guard’s leadership kept Washington tangibly in the playoff race until realities of the undermanned roster kicked in.

“I think [Brad is] an all-NBA player in my eyes,” said Wall, an All-NBA selection in 2016. “You know how tough it is to make that team? It’s always tough. The year he’s had speaks for itself.”

How do you trade that player especially one groomed by the organization since selecting him third overall in 2012? You can't -- but the Wizards might not have a choice.

Nobody recognizes this more than Bradley Beal.

"Honestly, I’m here until I’m not here," Beal told NBC Sports Washington earlier this month. "I’m not thinking too strong on it. My personal desire is to be here and see the direction we go. Hopefully, the correct direction.

"I keep hearing the possibility of rebooting, trading Brad and getting assets back. It’s a business. I understand both sides of it. I can’t be mad at it."

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Bradley Beal rooted for the Capitals to win the Stanley Cup, so now he deserves to see his hometown team win it this year

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Bradley Beal rooted for the Capitals to win the Stanley Cup, so now he deserves to see his hometown team win it this year

The St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks Tuesday to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1970, where they were eliminated by the Boston Bruins.

They will look to even the odds, as they will be taking on the Bruins yet again on Monday night.

Blues fan and St. Louis native Bradley Beal will hope that his hometown squad will take the cup from the reigning champs, the Washington Capitals, and win the matchup against the Bruins.

Beal cheered on the Caps just a year ago and is ready to show out for the surging Blues.

To really put it into perspective how long it has been since the Blues played for the Cup, take a look at the number one song in the country when these two teams faced off 49 years ago. 

The Blues besting the Bruins will be a challenge, and Beal will be ready to root for his squad until the final buzzer.

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