By David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Posted Jan 30, 2013 6:51 PM - Updated Jan 30, 2013 8:04 PM
The Memphis Grizzlies completed a long-rumored roster and salary purge Wednesday by agreeing to trade Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors along with Hamed Haddadi for forward Ed Davis and veteran guard Jose Calderon. The Grizzlies will flip Calderon to the Detroit Pistons to acquire veteran forward Tayshaun Prince, along with forward Austin Daye.
The 26-year-old Gay has been on the trading block for several weeks, as the Grizzlies' new ownership group feared being close to the luxury tax threshold after this season, when the tax penalties begin increasing at an exponential rate. Memphis got under the tax for this season a week ago by sending forward Marreese Speights, guards Josh Selby and Wayne Ellington and a 2015 first -round pick to Cleveland for forward Jon Leuer, saving them more than $4 million.
Gay has become a solid small forward, averaging 17.2 points per game this season, though he is only shooting 40 percent from the floor this season and has yet to make an All-Star game. But the Grizzlies gave him a max deal in the summer of 2010 for $82 million, that has two years and $37 million remaining on it after this season.
Prince will likely replace Gay in the starting lineup for the Grizzlies. The 32-year-old was a key part of the Pistons' 2004 championship team, showing he was one of the league's top defensive players, guarding Kobe Bryant successfully throughout the 2004 Finals. He is a four-time NBA second-team All Defensive team selection. To the surprise of many, Prince stayed with the Pistons in 2011 when he became a free agent, rejecting overtures from the Clippers and Spurs to re-sign with the rebuilding Pistons. Calderon has been a solid guard for the Raptors, averaging 7.4 assists per game this season, and is thought of as one of the better assist men in the league. But he's been on the block for the last year or so as Toronto looked to upgrade itself at the position. The Raptors nearly signed free agent Steve Nash last summer, but Nash decided to agree to a sign-and-trade deal with the Lakers. The Raptors then acquired guard Kyle Lowry from Houston for a future first-round pick.
Calderon's main value is his expiring contract, which pays him $10.5 million this season. The Pistons are hoping to be players in free agency this summer, when the contracts of Corey Maggette ($10.9 million), Jason Maxiell ($5 million) and Will Bynum ($3.5 million) come off the books. Detroit had already acquired Maggette's expiring deal from Charlotte for guard Ben Gordon last summer. By dealing Prince, who had two years and almost $15 million remaining on his contract after this season, the Pistons could clear more than $26 million off their cap if they don't re-sign Calderon. (Detroit also won't have to extend a qualifying offer to Daye, saving another $4 million.)
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