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Hoops Links: Gay, Garnett, Stuckey, Raptors, Ellis

Earlier this week, we saw months of speculation over Rudy Gay's future in Memphis come to an end as he was shipped to the Raptors in a three-team deal involving the Pistons.  In return for Gay and Hamed Haddadi, the Grizzlies got Ed Davis, Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, and a whole lot of cap relief to keep them out of luxury tax territory.  It was rumored for months that the Grizzlies would part ways with Gay and the very notion that they would trade the small forward drew jeers from virtually everyone, including pundits, fans, and head coach Lionel Hollins.

"The reality is that we have a very versatile small forward that is 6'9". There aren't many guys out there like that. He can post up, shoot from the perimeter [and] he can attack the basket. He defends LeBron James, he defends Kevin Durant and all these guys that are tall, and strong, and quick and athletic. We don't have another player on our roster with that versatility, and most teams don't. That's the bottom line," the coach told Sports 56 WHBQ in January.

The coach went on to say that people tend to get "hung up on statistics too much", which appeared to be a subtle jab at the club's hiring of former ESPN scribe John Hollinger.  While it's true that Gay's PER of 14.45 (good for 26th amongst small forwards) is underwhelming, the trade had a lot to do with numbers of a different variety.  By moving Gay, the Grizzlies are now $8MM under the luxury tax, which could give them more flexibility to make other moves before the deadline or this summer.

The Grizzlies locker room may not be thrilled about Gay's departure, but it was absolutely vital in order for the franchise to stay competitive in the years to come.  In the short-term, the Grizzlies are 30-16 and can head into the postseason with home court advantage if they can stave off the Warriors and Nuggets in the standings.  Hollins may not be wild about the number crunching going on in Memphis, but there are a couple of figures he needs to zero in on over the next few months – 14 and 4.  As in, if they can finish 14 games or more above .500, they'll likely have a top 4 seed and a chance to make some serious noise in the playoffs.  Even sans Gay, this Zach Randolph-led team is more than capable of doing that.

If you have a great blog piece that you think we should feature next week, then send it to me at [email protected].  Here's this week's look around the blogosphere..

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