For weeks, NBA fans and executives alike have wondered how the Grizzlies would eventually solve their salary cap dilemma. In the midst of a successful season filled with potential to make noise in the playoffs, would Memphis trade Gay (and perhaps their chances at legitimate contention) away midway through, or would there be a way to put themselves in steady position to keep him and still entertain other key improvement options in the future?
The team began to answer that question on Tuesday, as news broke that the Grizzlies would be shipping the likes of Marreese Speights, Josh Selby, and Wayne Ellington (and a future pick) off to Cleveland. Only Cavaliers' big man Jon Leuer will be heading to Memphis in return.
Though the Grizzlies will be sending two key role players and a promising prospect out of town (only to get one player back), the move undoubtedly clears the path for Memphis not only to keep Gay and his big contract for the long-haul, but also consider other forthcoming roster options as well.
But what serves almost purely as a salary swap of sorts between two NBA teams also opens the door for a bit of NBA D-League conversation too. Both Selby and Leuer are minor league alumni, each having played for their team's respective affiliates this season.
Though he had yet to receive substantial playing time in Memphis, Selby certainly has a good amount of potential. After emerging as one of the top performers in Summer League last offseason, the young gun has continued to work on his game and went on to don a Reno Bighorns' jersey last month. In two contests off the bench, the guard scored 22 points (on 44% from the field), dished out 7 assists, grabbed 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. Selby also spent time in Reno last season.
With the Cavaliers perhaps more focused on developing their young talent (as opposed to making a playoff run), Selby can earn some more NBA burn with his new team. Still, as they've already done with the likes of Leuer and Kevin Jones this season, expect Cleveland to also assign Selby back and forth between the big league team and minor league affiliate quite often, depending on weekly schedules.
While Selby may have more potential upside for what's to become of him in the future, Leuer had the chance to prove himself a bit more in extended stints with the Charge this season. While in the minors, the big man and ever efficient shooter averaged a double-double with 19.5 points and 12.3 rebounds through eight contests. A player who thrives on a finesse style of play, Leuer shot 51% from the field and 47% from down town during his time in Canton.
It'll be interesting to see how much more time (if any) Selby receives going to a younger team in Cleveland. In the case of Leuer, however, one has to wonder if it's almost a given that the big man receives playing time in Memphis. After trading a key contributor to their front court rotation in Speights, the latest reports say that the Grizzlies will nevertheless sign three veteran guards to fill out the roster. Perhaps a window of opportunity will open for Leuer on the playoff contender, given the current circumstances.