Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Griz Deal Speights and Ellington, Get Under the Tax

Posted By on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Speights no more.
With all the talk about trading Zach Randolph or Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies made an unexpected move this morning.

The team traded three reserves — Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, and Josh Selby, along with a protected first-round pick, to the Cleveland Cavaliers for reserve big man Jon Leuer. (I believe this was first reported by YahooSports' Marc Spears, but info was flying so fast this morning, I'm not sure.)

The deal gets the Grizzlies under the NBA's luxury tax and reduces the pressure to make a Gay or (less likely) Randolph deal this season.

The draft pick going to Cleveland isn't eligible to exchange hands until at least 2015, with the following protections:
2015 and 2016 — must fall between picks 6 and 14 to be dealt
2017 and 2018 — Top 5 protected

The trade brings the Grizzlies roster to 11, two under the league-mandated minimum of 13. The team can now sign two players to minimum contracts to get to 13 without going into tax territory, according to a team source, but cannot sign three.

Under league rules, the Grizzlies will have to sign one player, to bring the roster to 12, immediately after the trade becomes official and will have two weeks to get up to 13.

Chris Vernon reported this morning that veteran former NBA players Bill Walker, Delonte West, and Sasha Vujacic are potential targets. I was able to confirm those players as under consideration, with other options also being discussed.

Leuer, who played well for Milwaukee as a rookie last season and has spent much of this season for the D League's Canton Charge, is not considered mere cap fodder by the Grizzlies. He's a near seven-footer who is a terrific shooter from mid-range and potentially beyond. He doesn't rebound as well as Speights, but there's some hope he could replicate Speights' value at a quarter of the cost.

As for how this deal impacts the likelihood of a larger deal this season, it changes the calculus but doesn't take it totally off the table. As one Grizzlies source indicated, it takes the financial pressures off of those trade discussions, giving the team better leverage and allowing any potential deal this season to be driven primarily by basketball concerns.

More later.

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