Boston has a worse per-game scoring margin than the Raptors and Pistons, and the struggles happening now are different than 2009-10 (when Boston showed early signs of greatness before falling into a malaise) and last season (when the lockout screwed everyone up). This team has earned the benefit of the doubt, especially on defense, but the front office will have to at least consider looking toward the future if things donít improve on the court in the next month. Gay and Rajon Rondo are friends, if that matters; Rondo chooses his friends carefully.
Two things work against Boston getting involved in any Gay deal:
1. The chances of pawning Jeff Greenís terrible contract off on Memphis plummeted when Levien and Hollinger took on key decision-making roles. Finding a workable deal without Greenís contract is tricky.
2. Boston used the full mid-level exception on Jason Terry, meaning their payroll during this season cannot exceed $74.3 million ó $4 million above the tax line ó at any point. Bostonís payroll is at about $71.9 million, meaning they can only take on about $2.4 million in salary. Memphis needs to drop $4 million to duck the tax; simple math says Boston would have to find a third team with cap space to facilitate ó unless Memphis is prepared to settle for a deal that cuts their tax payment but doesnít get them under.
Houston, Phoenix, and Cleveland are the only teams with major cap room, and any of the three could appear as a facilitator if Memphis does move Gay. (The Cavs obviously need a small forward, but itís hard to find a realistic fit, since Memphisí strong big rotation minimizes the need for Clevelandís best trade asset, Anderson Varejao).
A package of Green, Courtney Lee, and Avery Bradley works, though it only saves Memphis about $1.4 million in salary (and the same amount in tax payments). Memphis might be able to cut the rest by salary-dumping Marreese Speights or Bayless later (Speights isnít trade-eligible until Jan. 15 and can veto any deal), and they could sell at least Lee and Bradley as helpful pieces that fill needs now and going forward. Replace Green with the cheaper Brandon Bass, and Boston would have to work a lot harder ó sending out more players, and involving more teams ó in order to find a deal.
Paul Pierce for Gay works straight-up, but itís sacrilege and does not save Memphis any tax money this season.