Memphis coach Lionel Hollins was asked point-blank if trading away leading scorer Rudy Gay made the Grizzlies a weaker team.
Just as succinctly, Hollins fired back his answer.
“Time will tell,” Hollins said before Thursday night's game against the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Well, time ran out early for the Grizzlies as OKC hit its first nine shots and led wire-to-wire in a methodical 106-89 victory.
On Wednesday, the Grizzlies dumped salary by trading Gay and seldom-used center Hamed Haddadi to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for point guard Jose Calderon, forward Ed Davis and a second-round pick.
Memphis in turn sent Calderon to Detroit in exchange for veteran forward Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye.
Davis, Prince and Daye underwent physical exams in Memphis on Thursday. All players involved in a trade must pass their physicals before they're allowed to play with their new team.
Eight days earlier, Memphis had traded forward Marreese Speights, guard Wayne Ellington, guard Josh Selby and a future first-round draft pick to Cleveland for forward Jon Leuer.
The timing of the Gay trade couldn't have been worse for the Grizzlies. They've been anemic offensively all season and tried to keep pace with the NBA's highest-scoring team one night later.
Even with Gay, Memphis ranked 27th in the league in scoring (93.4), 24th in field-goal percentage (. 437) and 24th in 3-point percentage (. 344).
Defense will now take on added importance for the Grizzlies (29-16), who started the season with an 8-1 record and were 18-6 at one point. Since then, they have gone 11-10.
The Grizzlies shot just 26.0 percent (13 for 50) in the first half and trailed 58-34 at intermission. OKC countered by shooting 61.1 percent (22 for 36).
“We were a little flat,” Hollins said. “Everyone was trying to do too much.”
Memphis stormed back with a 33-point third quarter by shooting 56.0 percent (14 for 25) from the floor. The Thunder's 26-point lead had dwindled to 10 on two occasions.
“I thought we came back in the second half and looked like ourselves,” Hollins said.
Abnormalcy returned in the fourth quarter as the Thunder shot 54.5 percent to the Grizzlies' 31.8 percent.
Memphis finished at 34.7 percent (34 for 98) compared to 55.6 percent (40 for 72) for OKC.
“We put up 98 shots tonight,” Hollins said. “If everybody starts making shots, that's a huge plus to get 98 if you can shoot 50 percent.”
What must the Grizzlies do to remain a Western Conference contender without Gay?
“We have to play basketball and be who we are,” Gasol said. “That's it. I'm excited about the new guys coming in. I'm sure they'll be an important part of this team.”
Guard Jerryd Bayless, who averaged 11.4 points with Toronto last season, will likely help fill Gay's scoring void. He had a team-high 23 points against OKC.