In Zach Lowe’s latest piece for Grantland, the Raptors are listed as one of seven “sensible candidates” for Rudy Gay’s services. This past summer, or even earlier this season, anything that linked Gay to the Raptors would have started a giddy frenzy among Raps fans, and I would have been found smack dab in the middle of those hopeful supporters.

But now? Now the thought of acquiring Gay worries and scares me a hell of a lot more than it excites me.

Here’s what Rudy Gay is right now, and what he’ll probably be for the majority of his prime years (he’s 26): A borderline All Star from year to year who can be depended on for 17-18 points and 5-6 rebounds per 36 minutes while playing inconsistent defence. In summary, Rudy Gay is an above average NBA player who is a Tier 2 star on his best days and a frustrating potential head case on his worst days.

What he most certainly isn’t is a max contract player, at least not on merit. On the books, though, he’s just that, as Gay is in the third year of a five-year, $82,302,688 contract.

Gay would probably be the best player on the Raptors if he was traded north of the border, and he would most likely make this team better, but I doubt he’d make them better by enough to justify paying him nearly $18 million next season and over $19 million in 2014-15 if he picks up his player option for that season. In addition, Gay probably doesn’t improve the Raptors by enough to justify the young asset(s) the team would have to surrender to acquire him, and please don’t bring up the possibility of dumping Andrea Bargnani’s contract on the Grizzlies. Memphis is looking to shed long-term salary, which means they wouldn’t exactly jump at the opportunity to pay their third big man (that’s what Bargnani would be behind Randolph and Gasol) over $22 million for two years after this one.

I fully understand that trading young assets is usually necessary to acquire All Star talent in their prime years, and I’m fine with that, but not when the max contract player you’re trading for is a borderline All Star that doesn’t make you significantly better.

Then there’s the issue of DeMar DeRozan. I criticized the four-year extension given to DeRozan as much as anyone, and his last two games have left much to be desired, but the all around improvements he’s shown this season paint an interesting portrait with respect to a Rudy Gay conversation. In fact, looking at where DeRozan is now compared to where Gay was in his fourth season at 23-years-old, you can make the argument that DeMar’s on his way to a Gay-like career at a fraction of the cost (their fourth-year per-36 averages in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls are all within 0.8).

Gay was more efficient (had a fourth-year PER advantage over DeRozan of 16.2 to 14.9) and could create for himself in ways DeRozan still can’t, but based on the work DeMar puts into his game, the subsequent development in his game and the fact that Gay’s game has barely seen any development over his career, it’s not that much of a stretch to consider that DeRozan’s drive alone will propel him to the same borderline All Star status that Rudy currently possesses.

The difference, of course, is that after his fourth season, DeRozan will begin a new four-year contract worth $38 million while after Gay’s fourth season (which again, wasn’t that much better than DeRozan’s), he began a new five-year contract worth over $82 million.

Other than the hope that a change of scenery and being the No. 1 option again will reignite his spark, acquiring Gay at his current price tag just doesn’t seem to make sense for a still rebuilding team in Toronto.

If we were only a week into the season or even a month into it, I wouldn’t be so sure about my change of heart with regard to Gay’s decline (or DeRozan’s worth, for that matter), but over two months and 30-plus games into 2012-13, I don’t like what I’m seeing from Gay – both from a quality of play standpoint and body language standpoint.

As of right now, I say let another team – preferably one a lot closer to contention – take that costly gamble.

Rudy Gay? No, not this guy.

Comments (45)

  1. I disagree with the assertion that gay is not worth giving up young assets. It depends what young assets. Lets face it, most of the raptors young assets (excluding val) all lack all star upside. Ross, davis etc are expendable in my opinion if it makes the team better and gay does that. Its not the like the raptors are trading a very promising player like eric bledsoe. Then, you can afford to be more picky. BTW, who is out there on the trade market that is better than gay? Not many star players ever become available in the nba and the top tier ones pick where they want to go. Anyways, if gay was on the raptors he would make a good 1,2 punch with lowry. That team can be a 6-8 seed in the east easily. However, if the raptors do get gay i dont want them to be pidgeon holed into this team like the hawks were the past several years which was basically a 2nd round ceiling in the playoffs. I want to have leftover flexibilty to add more pieces. Thats what the good teams do. Unfortunately, I dont have much faith in BC for this to happen.

    • Just because Rudy Gay is a borderline all-star, and may be the best player currently on the market doesn’t mean the Raptors should go after him.

      Using your Hawks example, it’s moves like this that put you into the same position as them that go nowhere. So, what’s the point?

      • Pidgeon holed in the playoffs sound better to me than pidgeon holed out of the playoffs like the Raptors currently are

        • Yes, because being anywhere from 6-8 seed is sooo exciting.

          The team doesn’t need players to make them an easy first round matchup for top teams in the East. What they need to do is tank to draft someone that can make them a top team.

          • Sixers made the playoffs last year and were exciting to watch so yes, I would rather see my team in the playoffs. Of course I’d like them to win a championship but the league has few teams that can really compete- and I don’t know if any players really want to come to Toronto.

          • Just being an exciting team to watch isn’t an excuse to hop on the treadmill. I’d much rather watch a team that I know has a chance to win, than one that looks good losing.

        • The Raptors aren’t pigeon holed out of the playoffs. Bad management over the last 7 years has put them there. It doesn’t mean you jump on the mediocrity treadmill the first chance you get. It means you actually try and build a team that can do more than just MAKE the playoffs.

          • Well to build a team that can win championships you first need to make the playoffs; that should be a goal for the Raps franchise. Since the East has a couple of powerful teams like Miami. Seriously considering winning right now seem unrealistic as well. I’d rather see this team make the playoffs consistently rather than consistently finish just outside of the playoffs each year. If you’re talking about a complete reformation then I had already suggested the team tank. Of course they then had their winning streak followed by the latest couple of losses. It seems like this team goes through :growing pains” each year whilst not even being competitive.
            Call me crazy but I’d rather see the team win, or if they want better draft position, lose as much as they can. Alas the Raps don’t do that though; they have been among the leagues bottom dwellers for years and I’m tired of it. Although I guess I should know what to expect when I cheer for a Toronto based franchise; disappointment,

    • Ross is playing great in the last few games, davis is playing well, valanciunas is becoming more consistent and demar is playing almost as good as gay

  2. Woah, we don’t need Gay…not there’s anything wrong with having Gay…One of my favourite teams has Gay

  3. Bargs might be owed $23 million on the last 2 years of his deal, but Gay is owed $37 million! I’m pretty sure Memphis would love to do a Jose/Bargs for Gay+scrub deal in order to save $14 million over two years, plus tax savings as well.

    If Gay is the third option and Bargs is the third option, will their production on a Memphis team be that different?

    A Bargs/Kleiza for Gay deal saves them $10 mil + tax savings and is probably as good a deal as they are likely to get from BC.

  4. Bargs seems to be more of a head case than Gay. Rarely seems willing to give max effort. When he does though he can appear to be an all-star. But I just haven’t seen it outside of a dozen or so games last season. Maybe the better option is to demote him to the backup unit and see if that can motivate him to put in the effort again. He can add more to this team for less $$$ than Gay offers. But I’m not holding my breath for it to happen. I’d much rather move Bargs for a late lottery pick (if possible) and amnesty Kleiza. But first he’d have to return and show a little extra effort on D and last season’s touch on O.

    I wouldn’t even consider it though if I didn’t think Gay would add something to the team. I just don’t know if he adds $10 to $14 million worth of something or much, much less.

    PS, when I combined my two posts into one I got this message:
    Hmmm, your comment seems a bit spammy. We’re not real big on spam around here.

    What the heck is ‘spammy’ about my posts?

  5. Trading for someone like Rudy Gay is a desperation move that I fear Colangelo could make to try and save his job.

    Will it make the Raptors better? Probably, but it depends who they give up. Rudy Gay is a good 2nd or 3rd option on a good team. I wouldn’t want him to be the #1 option, as he likely would be.

  6. What about the Raptors going out and getting Demarcus Cousins? Couldn’t they do better than what the Celtics are offering?

    • Now we’re talking. I’d offer anyone not named Valanciunas.

      • I know he is a rookie and he is injured, so it’s not really fair to judge him right now; but I feel like his production hasn’t warranted as much love he’s been getting. I do like the effort level I see from him but I don’t think he’s as good as a lot of other people say he is, well for now anyways.

        • The Kings would be crazy to even think about trading Cousins. JV will be a very good player in this league, but nowhere near what Cousins already is. Come on Joseph, you wouldn’t trade JV for Cousins straight up? Sure JV is the “nicer” guy, but that doesn’t win ball games.

          • Agreed. In a hypothetical world in which we can trade JV for Cousins, I would do it. Now if we don’t need to, even better, because I don’t see Cousins with much game changing defensive potential. However, JV is good and everything, but I don’t see him being a cornerstone center/franchise player. Cousins can be.

          • how can anyone say that JV can’t be a cornerstone or judging him solely on his 1st season in the NBA?

            The guy is 19-20 years old and dealing with major changes as a ROOKIE in the NBA. New city, new language, new rules, new opposition… BIG CENTERS take longer to develop than guards. JV is a going to be a big force. He is just getting started. Anybody with any basketball IQ knows this. It took Andrew Bynum four years to start posting all-star numbers. JV is a big kid. He is still growing, he is awkward, but his IQ is high and will only get better. Give the kid at least a full season before writing him off.

          • DB, I’m sure as hell not saying he can’t be. I’ve been convinced since last summer and remain convinced after watching the first portion of his rookie season that Valanciunas will be a legitimate foundational player for the Raptors, and if he stays healthy, I think he’ll be one of the top centres in the game, not to mention the long-term five in Toronto. As I wrote, I’d offer anyone for Cousins that is NOT named Valanciunas, as in I would NOT include JV in that deal.

          • DB I’m not saying he can’t be a cornerstone part to the Raptors; and yes it will take some time for him to develop, all I was saying is that he hasn’t warranted the love he’s been getting right now. Not a judgement of how good he can be, I’m just saying he doesn’t have that much of an impact from what I’ve seen so far.

  7. You know in your preliminary description I thought you were talking about Bargs. Very similar profile and a lot less money. I’m with you though a trade for him would be a mistake.

    • Hah, great call. Just read it over and completely agree with the Bargs comparison, even the “5-6 rebounds” part!

  8. It just depends on what the team is trying to do.

    If BC is still somehow in charge while being assured that he will finish out the season and they’re still hell bent on making the playoffs this year or next, then trading for Gay makes a lot of sense. He’s a pretty significant talent upgrade and would fill a huge hole for this team at small forward even if you want to nitpick his game during arguably the worst 30 game stretch of his career. He’s still young enough and offers enough upside to be a sensible addition for this team as he’s basically the same age as Lowry

    Also, let’s not forget that we’re the Raptors, even talents like Rudy Gay who might be overpaid and have pretty glaring weaknesses will be hard to come by for us so it’s not like we can really pass up many opportunities to make an addition like that.

    • Agreed wholeheartedly

      • So your saying there’s a chance? I don’t know how we can complain about wanting an overpaid player, just look at the Fields contract

        • I assume Joseph was just bummed out and wanted to write something where he could feel good about the current make up of the team, even if it meant putting down a very good player who this team could desperately use.

          The team is what, 4-5 games out of a playoff spot? If acquiring Gay makes the team slightly better then they’re a playoff team and that’s the goal (whether or not it’s the right goal at this time is another debate).

        • Colangelo is willing to overpay for weak talent (Fields) but not a legit talent (Gay).
          His signing of Fields was a travesty, only happened because of weak leadership at top levels.

  9. Problem is, the raptors are not as bad as the wiz or cats. That means even if we are getting a high draft pick, it’s not going to be high enough.

    If you can get an all-star, who is in his prime, for some non-allstars and pasta eaters, you do it in a heartbeat, no matter how fat the contract Rudy has.

    At the end of the day, it’s not like LeBron is going to sign with the raps if we have the cap space…

  10. Trade who ever for Cousins and Gay. Who cares about contracts, it’s not your money who cares…go far into the penalty. All this silliness about sparing the owners pocketbook, my God, you TO bunch are such easy pushovers, you’d spend good seat ticket money to cheer for the Washington Generals.
    Owners don’t spend any money…make more for shareholders I guess is the idea. My BCE dividend cheque is so nice.
    We need top line talent on our team. Davis and Lowry are close enough to keep, all else can get the boot, they are nice fellas and all but 3rd stringers.
    When will fans hold the owners accountable for the sad on court performance of their team? Answer….never…Leaf fans are for life and owners know it. Sad, very sad.

  11. OKC traded Harden because they knew they couldn’t pay him $15m/year and pay the Luxury Tax which becomes a “Super Tax” starting next season. Memphis is next and other will follow in the off season or earlier. Raptors would be stupid to sign any expensive contract and giving up our future . Even trading Bargnani they can not take any future financial burden.

  12. Yes his numbers are comparable to DeRozan but you have to consider that Gay gets those numbers on a MUCH better team with much more individual talent. That also works both ways, he gets his BECAUSE those other Grizzlies are all threats to score and can’t be left alone. Here, defences might just focus on Gay being that there isn’t the same offensive fire power. But he is on a team full of great scoring options. Tough call for sure.

  13. I can’t imagine for a second that we could offer them the most attractive trade package.

  14. I’m sure others have said the same but, he plays next to guys like Randolph and Gasol who can dominate a game, so the fact that he’s consistently averaging 17-18 points points per game is good

  15. It’s very interesting to read all these comments they all have great points. But here is the thing, do us raptors fans want to make playoffs and stay in the playoffs even if that means not getting past 1st round or do we want to keep having to rebuild with young guys and hope to sneak in the 8th spot without having to pay a lot of money. At the end of the day, fans want playoffs, I want playoffs, players want playoffs, owners want playoffs. So in order to make the playoffs you have to spend money on all star caliber players like rudy gay and bottom line is you gotta spend some to make some. Look at what brooklyn did, they traded for two all stars, gave away young assets and they’re looking at playoffs. They were at the same spot as the raptors last year even a little worst but they’re getting it done because of their ownership. Now toronto has money to spend because of the new ownership so why not get guys like gay? Raptors problem over the past 4 years is that there’s no go-to guy and 4th quarter there’s barely any clutch player. Rudy gay does exactly that, close out the game and that’s what the Raptors need big time

    • Exactly. Raptor’s owners are filthy rich rolling in the dough, we can afford a much better team. We’re not some obscure Ontario D league city, we’re one of the richest friggin’ cities in the world, and apparently happy with a 2nd and 3rd string team……build for the future for the next 50 years my ars”
      You need 2 big time stars just to make the playoffs in this league….either go that route or sell the team to someone more willing to compete.

    • Ditto! We have the money. It’s time we spend it on legitimate talent. The only problem is that if we get Gay for the rumored DAVIS + Calderon. Then we will have a hole in #4. Which means Colangelo will most likely keep Bargs. At least this way we don’t run our offense through Bargs. I hope we can unload long two linus with one of the trades.

    • Why not get guys like Gay? Because spending $17 million on a guy who’s not a top 25 player, let alone an actual star, is a recipe for mediocrity – especially on top of the $6-$10 million contracts we’ve already handed out to a bunch of boderline starters. It’s that kind of thinking that landed Charlie Vilanueva and Ben Gordon on the Pistons’ bench. Your Brooklyn example also actually shows how not to do things, IMO: they trade a high draft pick for Gerald Wallace, strike out on Dwight Howard, thento make themselves feel better, pay Wallace and Joe Johnson like they’re superstars, when they’re not. The Nets might make the playoff, but they just fired their coach and are headed for a first round exit. You keep your $15 million + contracts for actual stars, like James Harden, and if there aren’t any available the worst thing you can do is clog up your payroll with a bunch of mediocrities.

  16. I wonder what Rudy’s jersey sales are at? Lol
    Fans must love that one.

    • It’s like when I was a child and hated wearing Gap (Gay and proud). He should just put an ‘e’ at the end and then it would be like Marvin Gaye.

  17. Well, this is awkward

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