With Rudy Gay trade rumours swirling, the Raptors have come up once again as a possible destination for the Grizzlies’ small forward.
On Wednesday, Marc Stein of ESPN wrote that according to sources, the Raptors “remain seriously ‘interested’ in the Grizzlies’ leading scorer and are trying to assemble trade packages to bring the 26-year-old to Toronto after preliminary talks with Memphis.” Stein’s report also references the fact that the Raptors tried to land Gay before the 2012 Draft for a package believed to be Calderon and the No. 8 pick.
Jose Calderon’s expiring contract, Ed Davis and “draft considerations” are all mentioned as trade bait that the Raps are believed to be dangling this time around.
If you read my post earlier this week, then you’ll know that I no longer believe trading for Gay is that exciting of a possibility. The 26-year-old hasn’t played near the level his contract demands this season and can often be seen with slumped shoulders and generally poor body language on the court. As I mentioned in that post, though, perhaps a change of scenery and the prospects of being a No. 1 option again would reinvigorate the borderline All Star. In addition, I assumed that Davis and Terrence Ross would both have to be included in a deal for Gay, where as Stein’s report might suggest otherwise.
If a deal for Gay involving Davis does go down, though, then I hope you’d all be prepared to stick with Andrea Bargnani for the long haul, because without Davis around, the Raptors’ rotation of bigs would likely see Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas starting with Amir Johnson coming off of the bench.
Another interesting question to ask is what the potential draft considerations would be. The Thunder get Toronto’s pick this year if it falls between No. 4 and No. 14, so if this reported Grizzlies deal is really on the table, would Memphis get the Raptors’ pick if it falls between 15 and 30? Would the Grizzlies get a protected first round pick in the first season after the Thunder get Toronto’s pick? Can you even trade a first rounder under a hypothetical “only if the Thunder don’t get it” scenario? Are we talking second round picks? More than anything, Stein’s report of draft considerations is what confuses me about the report.
From a financial standpoint, a swap of Calderon and Davis for Gay would obviously add a ton of salary on Toronto’s books for the next few years. If you were to add Gay’s nearly $18 million salary for next season, the Raptors would be looking at a 2013-14 payroll of over $72 million. That would likely be right around the luxury tax threshhold, though the team could decline John Lucas III’s player option and amnesty Linas Kleiza to get under the tax. If Gay and Bargnani are both still around in 2014-15 and both opt in to the final year of their contracts that season, then you’d be looking at a Raptors team that is virtually capped out for the next two years after this one and might even be in luxury tax territory.
And remember, we haven’t even discussed the possibility of Kyle Lowry potentially getting a raise somewhere along the line.
So, while the anticipation of adding a potential All Star and an exciting talent like Gay would be nice, the question to ask is would you be okay as a fan being locked in to a team of Gay, Lowry, Bargnani, DeRozan, Valanciunas, Johnson, Ross and Fields for the next two or three years? Because outside of Ross and Valanciunas’ development overcoming Gay’s potential continued regression, that would probably be the classic NBA treadmill team, and a fairly expensive one at that.