While the Raptors were losing to the Warriors on Monday night, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that according to “sources with knowledge of the talks,” the Raptors and Grizzlies “are engaged in active trade discussions” with regards to Toronto acquiring Rudy Gay.
While Stein later writes that the potential Raptors/Grizzlies deal could eventually include more teams, and that it is believed Jose Calderon, Kyle Lowry and Andrea Bargnani are all available, his main report is that Calderon and Ed Davis are the “cornerstones” of Toronto’s offer for Gay and that the Raps also covet Memphis power forward Darrell Arthur.
A larger, multi-team blockbuster that sees the Raptors part ways with Calderon, Davis, Lowry and Bargnani – or even three of those four players – would hopefully see the Raptors acquire at least a couple of impact players or multiple young assets in the form of players and draft picks, but since that added tidbit is just that, let’s focus on the potential of a Calderon and Davis for Gay and Arthur deal.
I’ve made my stance known on Rudy Gay. Coming into the season, I thought a player of his ability was just what the Raptors needed at the small forward position, even with his hefty price tag. But since then, Gay looks like a player who has both hit his ceiling and has seriously regressed. He went from borderline All-Star and arguably a top-30 player to a physically gifted forward barely getting more out of himself than DeMar DeRozan, all while making max money.
Depending on potential moves made with regard to Bargnani, Kleiza and a couple others, the Raptors actually could have near max cap space this summer, and if Gay declines his 2014-15 player option to seek more guaranteed money in another long-term deal at that time (he would obviously need at least $20m total in a new deal to even consider declining player option), his contract may only consist of one more very expensive season next year, so it’s not even the money that necessarily concerns me. It’s the fact that if Gay doesn’t get back to playing up to his potential, the Raptors will be trading a 23-year-old big man in Ed Davis who has looked very promising this season for a player in Gay who might not even make this team that much better.
Pairing the Rudy Gay of old with a healthy Kyle Lowry in the Eastern Conference would almost surely be the backbone of a playoff team, and with expected developments from DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross (I’d actually rather see the better shooting Ross start with Gay since DeRozan’s game is too similar), that team might even have some intriguing upside. But if you’re a Raptors fan, you know that deals like this hardly ever go Toronto’s way, and I could just as easily see that team becoming an expensive lottery fixture as much as I could see them becoming a promising young playoff team.
The possibility that a fresh start and a seriously increased role could revitalize Gay is tempting, but based on what we’ve seen so far this season, I fear that the Raptors would be trading a young controllable talent with potential for an overpaid talent who’s already reached his prime, all without the team getting much better.
I suppose it could be just the kind of gamble that this franchise and fanbase desperately need to make, but it’s more likely the kind of short-sighted move that sets them back in their ongoing rebuild yet again.
Here’s hoping I’m wrong about that and that if I am right, that these reported talks end up going nowhere.