As the preseason winds down and we begin to turn the corner to basketball games that actually matter, the litany of “NBA season preview” articles written by media organizations and blogs on both sides of the border is quickly approaching it’s saturation point. For most people reading this post (read: Raptor fans/NBA blog consumers), the preseason serves as both a blessing and a curse: on the plus side, it’s great to have so much literature on the Raps to read (at least as much as is afforded to any other mid-market NBA team during this time of the year); but on the other side of the coin, reading the same rhetoric by the larger NBA writer-sphere column after column can be ingratiating at best, and patronizing at worst. This year, basketball writers have chosen to focus on three particular narratives, with few exceptions:

  • Jonas Valanciunas’ development will be key for the Raptors to improve as a group this year, compete for a playoff spot, and for the franchise’s health going forward.
  • Masai Ujiri is a major upgrade over Brian Colangelo, and his impact has yet to be fully felt within the Raptor organization.
  • There is more than a good chance that Rudy Gay will be moved at some point this season – for some columnists, it’s an inevitability (hi, Bill and Jalen’s NBA Preview!).

Raptors Season Preview Mini Round-up


Now, if you’re like me, the entire “trade Rudy” suggestion has been overplayed in the mainstream NBA media. Notwithstanding the team’s reasonable record with him during his limited tenure (barely a half-season to this point) and the excellent metrics of the current starting five, Ujiri has publicly stated he has no interest in simply letting one of his best players go in a fire-sale type move.

With that being said, though… Let’s say the Raptors’ season goes south in a hurry, Rudy and DeMar prove too similar to coexist on the same roster, and Ujiri decides that the best option moving forward is to move Gay, clearing his most onerous contractual obligation in the process. What then? What can we expect for him? And does it even matter?

The short answer to that last question is yes, obviously. Despite Rudy’s massive contract, he is still an above-average NBA forward on a short-term deal (player option this offseason, unrestricted free agent the next), and there will be some interest in signing him, either by teams looking to contend for the playoffs in the short-term (Bucks, Hawks) or by contenders looking to similarly move salary while still remaining competitive (Bulls). Any asset with multiple suitors demands return, and Ujiri won’t simply give away Rudy for cap filler.

In fact, this proposed deal – Gay for Carlos Boozer, straight up, is one that has been floated around the blogosphere in recent weeks. Despite the irony inlaid in the fact that it was just mere months ago we were talking about moving Andrea Bargnani for Boozer, the deal makes some sense, financially – the Raptors would be in a slightly better situation (about $4 million in cap relief next offseason), and would also be less competitive on the court (Landry Fields starting at small forward?), which would seem to work in concert with the tanking aspirations of a team that’s just (hypothetically) moved its number one scoring option.

However, deals like this – for a veteran player with time remaining on his contract – are essentially tit-for-tat moves for the Raptors organization. Instead of being burdened with Gay’s contract going forward, the Raps instead have Carlos Boozer’s – a player who doesn’t fit the team’s offensive identity and actually pushes one of their more efficient players to the bench. One could argue that you could move Boozer in the future for prospects, picks, or cap space, but if that’s the end goal, why not just do that with your first move?

A second, more palatable option would be to move Gay for cap relief right away – taking back expiring contracts that could make the Raptors players in the 2014 offseason. A variation of this deal was offered by the Pistons to the Raptors during the summer months and rejected by management, who explained that they don’t just want to “give a player away.” Now, rhetoric may change midseason, but in my opinion, moving an asset to simply be free of that asset is neither sound economics nor team management, and if Masai didn’t settle with that for Andrea Bargnani, he’s certainly not going to for Rudy Gay.

The final option, then, is to use a chip like Gay to collect assets that are useful in the future – either picks or young players. Obviously, this type of deal is the most difficult to consummate, given the relative value of these types of assets to other teams. However, there are ways for this to realistically happen: like the Bargnani/Knicks trade, teams desperate to acquire an impact player could fill a trade package with undesirable assets for the Raptors to deal with in addition to a few appealing pieces.

Ujiri himself actually has an excellent track record in this respect: moving Bargnani to the Knicks this offseason and Carmelo Anthony to them in 2011 (Knicks’ GMs, you might want to just lose his number), which should make Raptor fans cautiously optimistic on this front. If Rudy Gay, or any other part of the Raptor core is moved, it is IMPERATIVE that the team receive something in return that will move the team along the rebuilding process besides simply cap space, which has proven difficult to use efficiently over the lifetime of the Raptor franchise. Ujiri has shown a fondness for building through the draft in the past, which makes sense in Toronto, and so I’d imagine draft picks would be at the centre of any trade package moving significant Raptor assets in the near future.

Put simply: as much as we like to complain about the general stagnancy of the Raptor franchise, the entire starting lineup (and some of the bench) has significant value around the league as either proven young(ish) talent, or building blocks with significant upside. To give that away for nothing but expiring deals or aging veterans would be a major, major mistake. And if I can figure that out, I’m confident Masai and co. will too.

Now it’s your turn to have your say, though: What could/should we feasibly get in return in any Rudy Gay trade? Do you think he should be moved at all costs or stay put? Let’s hear it. 

  • Justin

    Toronto: Rudy Gay, Terrence Ross
    Charlotte: Ben Gordon, MKG/2014 First Round Pick

    Why for Toronto: They unload Rudy’s contract and begin the rebuild with an expiring contract and a long-term piece (either MKG or a 1st in a strong draft).

    Why for Charlotte: After a surprising start, the Cats decide to pair an established talent with Jefferson and make a run for the playoffs. They also get a decent prospect in Ross to offset Rudy’s salary.

    Toronto: Rudy Gay, D.J. Augustin (Cannot be traded until Dec. 15th)
    Milwaukee: Caron Butler, Luke Ridnour, Giannis Adetokunbo

    Why for Toronto: Once again, Toronto gets two expirings and a prospect for the rebuild.
    Why for Milwaukee: They get a significant upgrade at the small forward position and now have one of the better front courts in the league. Augustin would fill the back-up point position left vacant by Ridnour.

    • Milk&Gin

      No way they give up Antetokounmpo in a trade, too young and a big celling for a young up and coming team in Milwaukee. Stop playing with espn trade machine

      • Andre

        I think the bucks are in a “win-now” attitude, so I think they would be open to trade for “Po”. I just dont think thats enough for rudy gay. They need to get at least 1 first rounder.

    • WhiteVegas

      The Charlotte deal seems like something that would work, although if we include Ross then I would want both MKG and a 1st round pick. I’d just as soon leave Ross out. Not sure if he a true deal sweetener when Charlotte has Henderson signed long term at his position.
      Knowing Ujiri he could probably get MKG and a 1st just for Gay and taking on Gordon’s contract.

    • dave

      You must be from charlotte…

    • Dinos Charitopoulos

      Antetokounmpo is a high-potential player…I like the second trade but I don’t believe that there is a chance of trading Giannis to Toronto.

  • DDD

    stay put. this team has a chance to do well this season. Let’s see what we have, and if we are not in the mix come playoff time, then trade rudy for expiring vets and maybe a pick and then see what you can do this offseason. and add a solid piece to the JV DD amir ross nucleus.

    • Nilanka15

      I guess it depends on how one defines “do well”.

  • Bendit

    There are rumblings this morning that Denver are kicking the tires regarding Kenneth Faried.

  • Overthewall

    Rudy Gay and Jonas Valunciunas for Chandler Parsons and Asik + whoever to match the salaries.

    • Thimble

      You’re $12 million short. By “whoever”, do you mean Harden? ‘Cause I don’t see how else you can get the salaries to add up.

    • Sammy

      If this deal happened, I would stop being a Raptor fan. No way I’m giving up JV for anything less than a Wiggins caliber talent.

      • Abbas Ali

        The only reason i would give up JV is if i get
        -Anthony Davis
        -Andrea Drummond
        -or a all star + draft pick

  • Marz

    Your blog post never answered the question, “What Could the Raps get for Rudy?” :(

  • Mark

    Rudy and Lowry to Boston for Rondo and Gerald Wallace

  • vinny

    WHY is this still being talked about???!!!! Everybody is amp’d for the season to start… and your here causing unnecessary drama…Rudy is amp’d to stay here in Toronto…have you not seen any of the interviews by him…The team is more of a brotherhood now then players, which you can tell developed though this off-season…by you guys saying all this b.s. abt trading Rudy, its creating stupid talk that will get around. You guys must not be from Toronto! FOCUS ON THE POSITIVES RATHER THAN NEGATIVES!!!…..LETS GO RAPS!…

    PS….U!!! guys cause nba players to second guess themselves abt the team that their on.

  • Shadow Of Christ

    I personally wouldn’t trade Rudy UNLESS we have a repeat of last season to the tune of a similar 4-19 start. This year’s team looks better than last year’s AND we don’t have a certain Primo Pasta eating 7ft F/C who can’t play defence hanging around the 3pt line.

    That said, since we’re playing “What if”:
    To Toronto: Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee
    To Boston: Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy
    Other moves for this to make sense: Toronto cuts DJ Augustine, Lowry becomes backup PG

    Why is makes sense: Both teams get impact players. With Rondo playing the point in Toronto, they’d have an opportunity to salvage the season if it went south. For Boston, they now have rid themselves of the past and build a new team around Rudy. A win-win.

    But it won’t happen this way… so let’s move on.

  • george resko

    We shouldnt trade rudy i think we should watch the rest of the season with our starting 5 landry fields and tyler hansbrough ujiri said its a season to see how much we groe. If we get into the playoffs we should keep everyone and add a guy like jamal crawford who could rlly carry the bench. Rudy has 1 yr left if he chooses to opt oout of hia conttact sp we cud sign him to a more approvable deal like 15 m a yr i dont wanna tank its been 5 yrs since weve seen the playoffs its been to long

  • Thimble

    Any way the Lakers would trade Pau for Rudy + TRoss?

  • george resko

    Trade ross he rlly isnt that talented, trade him with lowry landry fields if you cud get rondo and courtney lee. Courtney helps are shooting and we have an all star point guard. The money works too landry makes 5 mil lowry makes 6and ross is on a cheap rookie contract

  • SR

    They’re rapidly getting to the point where keeping Rudy is going to be a better option than a lot of the poo-poo platter offers they’ll get for him, especially if they aren’t going to blow up most of the team and tank. Just dumping Rudy is not going to get this roster to the top of the lottery.

    They don’t want longer contracts in return, or geriatric players like Carlos Boozer or Gerald Wallace or any other crappy suggestion. They want picks, prospects, and flexibility, and it’s going to take a trading partner who’s in a damn fine “win now” position to offer those three for what’s rapidly becoming a Rudy Gay rental.

    The biggest “Who knows?” right now is what he plans to do with his option. That’ll change everything for the Raptors and any potential trade partner.

  • some random guy

    Only need 1 trade, and that is to trade Ross while his value is still somewhat high for a center to take a few minutes off of JV.

  • Jamshid

    There is no question that DD has improved this year especially in the defensive end but I think some of his offensive success is due to presence of Gay in this team. DD is no longer the primary focus of the opposing teams in defence and shipping Gay out of the town, will bring DD’s production down. Mark my Words …

  • Corey

    I definitely would not trade Rudy. Team is playing great? Getting is under contract for another yr? Don’t fix what ain’t broken.

  • YoTimBo

    Toronto’s Gay and Gray to New Orleans, New Orleans’s sends R. Anderson to Toronto, and E. Gorden to the Utah. Utah’s Kanter and Biedrins go to Toronto. Both Utah and New Orleans save money and get better. Toronto takes a hit to their salary cap this year but will save a truckload of money after Biedrins one year contract ends. They can also let Day go next year (after his contract ends) to further improve their cap space. This would solve the shortage of big men for Toronto and leave money for free agent shopping next year. Ross and Fields would have to pick up the slack on the wings until a free agent is found. If they slip in the standings this year they may have a moderately good draft pick.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      I can’t see New Orleans or especially Utah even getting through a phonecall for this offer without falling off their chair laughing.

      Ryan Anderson has far more trade value than Gay does.

      And I’m not sure why Utah would want to give up one of the cornerstones of the franchise and one of the most promising up and coming centers in the league AND an expiring contract for an injury prone shooting guard with 3 years and $45 million left on his contract, and whose value has probably never been lower than it is right now.

      Basically, would you give up Jonas Valanciunas for Eric Gordon? Because that’s basically what you’re suggesting Utah should do.

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  • Jay

    Wait until Rudy opts into his contract next year. Then we can trade a huge 19+ for good players and picks. That year many team will be looking to land a marquee free agent such as Lebron, Bosh, Wade, Gasol, Randolph among others. More teams would be willing to clear salary then, and you can be sure that Rudy opts into his contract.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      Most of those players you mentioned are likely to opt out this summer (Gasol has no option for next year). And there are projected to be close to 20 teams with cap room, so expiring contracts aren’t going to be worth a whole lot, quite frankly.

      And considering how many teams are going to have cap room this summer, the smart thing to do is opt out and become a free agent. When that many teams have cap room, players tend to get overpaid.

  • http://www.probballreport.com/ Stephen Brotherston

    Right question worded the wrong way – It should be “What could Masai Ujiri get for Rudy Gay?” Old regime – Raptors would get fleeced. New GM – Ujiri might actually be able to improve the team.