For a while now, we had been hearing about Memphis shopping some of their core guys (especially Rudy Gay). Memphis did make a deal, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, but not the one everybody expected. Let’s check out the report:
The Grizzlies would send big man Marreese Speights, guard Wayne Ellington and guard Josh Selby to the Cavs for big man Jon Leuer. Cleveland would also receive a future first-round draft pick in the deal.
So I’m sure a lot of you are confused on why the Grizzlies made this deal. Jon Leuer hasn’t been heard from much this season. It’s basically a salary dump by Memphis. Trading Speights, who earns $4.2 million this season and has a $4.5 million player option next season, and the other players would get the Grizzlies under the luxury tax threshold. That had been their goal and that had been one of the reasons why some of their core players had been shopped.
Speights had been an excellent big man off the bench for Memphis so it definitely weakens their frontline, who had been known for their bruising, physical defense. He was acquired in a trade last season when Zach Randolph went down with injuries. He averaged 8.8 points and 6.2 boards last season. His numbers have dipped a bit this season at 6.6 points and 4.7 rebounds but he’s been coming off the bench more instead of starting for Randolph.
Wayne Ellington had given the Grizzlies a rare outside threat. He averaged 5.5 points off the bench and had been shooting .423 from behind the arc. However, someone had to go along with Speights to get under the luxury tax threshold. Josh Selby didn’t play much in his stay with Memphis and was more known for his domination of the Las Vegas Summer League.
Now Memphis is hoping Jon Leuer, who is a decent rebounder, can provide that same “grit-and-grind” attitude. And, of course, at a much cheaper price. As for the Cavs? Anderson Varejao is out for the season so they need players like Speights to make up for his production.