Feeling front office pressure to reduce payroll, the Memphis Grizzlies executed a multiplayer trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday that effectively cut $6 million, which will help the team avoid a luxury tax.
The deal saw Memphis trade Marreese Speights (pictured above), guards Josh Selby and Wayne Ellington, and a future first-round draft pick to Cleveland for forward Jon Leuer.
While Memphis was looking to simply cut costs, the trade helps Cleveland fill some of its many needs on the floor, especially since they’ve just learned that Anderson Varejao will miss the rest of the season due to a blood clot. Speights, who is averaging 6.6 points and 4.7 rebounds will help the Cavs most in the post, but the most beneficial part of the deal will almost certainly be the first-round pick, as the Cavs will look to rebuild in the coming seasons.
“The biggest thing out of the whole deal is getting Mo (Speights) in there and getting that first round pick as well,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said, according to ESPN.com. “Very valuable assets. It was a good day for us.”
Although Memphis doesn’t gain much in terms of able bodies, it was able to avoid the tax without having to deal its star players, including Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. This will likely prove to be significant down the stretch for the Grizzlies, who are currently in fourth place in the West with a 26-14 record.
“It’s a trade that had to be made from a business decision, so we have a chance to keep our core together and we move forward,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “Hate to lose Mo and Wayne or Josh, but it’s part of the business of basketball and you have to do things. You have to make some tough decisions, and tough decisions were made and we live with them and move forward.”
While Cleveland simply hopes for a stronger second half of the season, Memphis will look to make a serious playoff push with that core of star players intact. The Grizzlies’ next game will be at home on Wednesday against the struggling Los Angeles Lakers.