Detroit Pistons v Toronto Raptors

With Andrea Bargnani set to be out of the picture come July 10, the next move Masai Ujiri makes will likely be the move that gives us an indication one way or the other whether the Raptors will be looking to go “Diggin’ For Wiggins” next season or will be looking to take a step forward.

If the Detroit Pistons have their way, they’d reportedly like to take Gay and his maximum salary off of Ujiri’s hands while presenting Toronto with a prime opportunity to tank…

That Joe Dumars and his obsession with mediocrity.

Stuckey and Villanueva will make just over $17 million between the two of them in 2013-14, and replacing Gay’s $19,317,326 player option in 2014-15 with two guys who will be off the books at that time after already trading Bargnani could create over $25 million in cap space for the Raptors next summer.

If the Raptors were to accept this offer, the team would be in prime position to land a high lottery pick in what is shaping up to be the best Draft class in a decade, would have more than maximum salary cap space in a summer where some franchise changing talent is available via free agency, and you’d have to assume that at the very least, they’d also still have a building block of a centre (Jonas Valanciunas) already in place.

As painful as the on-court product would become during the 2013-14 season, a trade of this nature could put the Raptors in position to take a gigantic, power-shifting step forward next summer.

Having said all of that, we’re not even sure that Ujiri wants to tank the season. And even if he does, knowing Masai’s reputation for being patient, selective and generally diligent when piecing together a trade, you’d have to assume that he can squeeze more out of a Rudy deal than this, whether by getting more from the Pistons themselves or from another potential trade partner.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if Gay believes he can get more than $20 million total, guaranteed, on a new contract after 2013-14 (which is actually pretty likely), there is the possibility that he opts out anyway, thereby creating the same cap space that this deal would create.

Anyway, buckle up, as for lack of a better term, shit’s about to get real…

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UPDATE:

My guess is that the resistance isn’t so much about a refusal to take a strategic step back (that’s my fancy way of explaining tanking), but that as I wrote above, Ujiri surely feels he can find a better haul than this for Gay.