Rudy Gay trade: Jason Levien responds to criticism of move

Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

Memphis Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien responded to criticism of the team's trade that sent leading-scorer Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors.

After the Memphis Grizzlies shipped off forward Rudy Gay in return for Detroit Pistons swingman Tayshaun Prince, among others, the team's CEO, Jason Levien, took some heat for what was criticized as a cost-cutting move. Levien went on the Chris Vernon Show to defend Memphis' decision to trade away their leading-scorer in the middle of the season.

From the podcast:

"We took on players that we thought could play in this deal," Levien said. "I don't see where that (criticism) comes from. If we were dumping salaries, why would we take on Tayshaun Prince for multiple years? It's a marathon not a sprint for us. We want to look at the next five-year window and be as competitive as we can be."

Levien maintained that the Grizzlies improved with the trade. They received a capable replacement in Prince, who has a wealth of playoff experience and has a skillset the CEO described as "multi-dimensional." The Grizzlies also received young forwards in Austin Daye and Ed Davis, plus trade exceptions and the lifted burden of Gay's contract.

One of the move's biggest critics, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, said that Memphis owner Robert Pera doesn't care about winning. Levien dismissed the criticism as Wojnarowski's distaste for ESPN -- former ESPN stats guru John Hollinger is now in the Grizzlies' front office.

And overall, Levien told Vernon that trading Gay midseason and before a playoff run was about trade value. Gay's contract includes a player option left on it after this season, and Levien said that teams would be more willing to take on his large contract with more time on it in the event that Gay bolts for another team.

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