There have been rumors for a while now that the Grizzlies would trade Rudy Gay in order to get below the luxury tax for next season. Gay was seen as the most likely to be traded because while he is a good player, he isn't a great player who justifies his big contract. Zach Randolph was seen as another player who could be traded because of his big contract and age. But he is less likely since he is arguably the most loved Grizzly and is a better player than Gay.
Those rumors were temporarily put to rest today when the Grizzlies traded Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a future first round draft pick to Cleveland for Jon Leuer. This deal doesn't make much sense aside from a purely financial one, that of getting below the luxury tax. Here's a useful side by side comparison of all the players involved from The NBA Geek. In short, all of these players are below average.
Speights has amassed 2.7 wins in his 4 years in the league. That's just below average. Ellington has 2 wins, which is well below average. Selby has -1.3, which is terrible. And Leuer has .6 wins, which is terrible. That's all for their careers. You could chalk up Sebly and Leuer's lack of production to being young and not getting a lot of playing time. If that's the case, they have a long way to go before being productive.
Ellington and Speights have more experience, thus I think we can be safer in judging them. Ellington only does one thing well, which is shoot 3s. He was doing that pretty well this year. But since Tony Allen is a better player there just isn't much room for Ellington. So it's not a big deal that he's gone. Speights shows flashes of being an average player. He seems to be a decent rebounder, shooter, and doesn't turn the ball over much. A big problem with him is shot selection. He loves deep 2s, which are the worst % shot you can take. If he could cut down on those shots he could be an average player. But since Randolph and Gasol are better players, there just isn't much room for him.
So the Grizzlies aren't giving up much in terms of personnel. What I don't like about the trade is that Leuer isn't good and the 1st round draft pick is valuable. I don't know what the trade market for these 3 players was like. So I can't say much about what we could have gotten back in return. But the 1st round pick strikes me as giving away a bit much, even if this was just about cutting salary. That pick is a way to get a potentially good player at a cheap price.
One good thing that may come from this deal is the players we sign to fill the roster spots. We could also still trade Rudy Gay for a cheaper small forward, like Mike Dunleavy (if that's possible), and probably not do any harm to the team, possibly improving it.