It’s not often that a tank-triggering move makes a team better, but I think last night’s trade of Rudy Gay may have achieved just such a paradoxical outcome.

At this point we don’t need to delve too deeply into all of the ways that Rudy Gay was hurting the Raptors. His low-percentage, shot-happy, turnover-prone style of play has been torn apart and blogged about in so many corners it’s amazing to think he’s only been at it for 39 days this season. He was a “star” player, though, and so his departure is meant to signal the inevitable descent in the NBA’s basement, except that there is a chance that this move could actually make these Raptors better rather than worse, especially if Dwane Casey doesn’t get the memo on losses becoming a priority.

With Gay gone, that means the Raptors have freed up 15.9 shots and 57.8 touches per game to give to more efficient scores and more intelligent playmakers. Without even considering the incoming players, that means more looks for Jonas Valanciunas, Amir Johnson, Kyle Lowry and the noticeably-improved DeMar DeRozan. That means fewer accommodations need to be made for a player that will simply arrest the offence by holding the ball and making decisions at the pace of an MLB pitcher. That means players might feel encouraged to move without the ball because now there is a better chance they’ll actually see a pass if they get themselves open. By removing just one player the Raptors have completely blown apart their offence, and considering that offence ranks in the bottom-third of the NBA, that can’t be a bad thing.

See Also:

Of course, Gay wasn’t just sent away, there were players sent back to Toronto in return. There is the pass-first point guard Greivis Vasquez, the sweet-shooting big man Patrick Patterson, the exceptional post defender Chuck Hayes and three-point threat (and one-time near-Raptor) John Salmons. While collectively this group brings a much more flexible cap situation to Toronto (the biggest motivation behind last night’s trade), they also bring play that might actually interrupt the team’s hopes of cascading down the Eastern Conference standings.

Vasquez represents the kind of player that most Raptors fans began coveting as soon as they saw what Dwane Casey’s offence would look like if run by someone other than Jose Calderon. Vasquez is a true playmaking point guard and, mercifully, someone who should finally be able to put Valanciunas and Johnson back into some pick-and-roll situations. While he’s been splitting time this year with Isaiah Thomas, last season he ran the point in New Orleans to the tune of nine assists per game, good for third in the NBA. He simply has a great feel for passing the ball to open teammates, which is a skill that Raptors fans may have forgotten existed after watching this team play through 18 games this season.

While he’ll immediately become the team’s backup point guard, supplanting the putrid three-headed monster that was attempting to hold down the position, it is likely to be a short-lived stay on the bench. Not only will Casey probably see the same benefits to starting Vasquez that he saw in starting Calderon last season, expectations are running rampant that Lowry will be the next Raptor shown the door as Ujiri continues to de-Colangelo his roster before the trade deadline. Either way, his ability to run a functional offence (the Hornets scored 104.5 points per 100 possessions last season with Vasquez on the floor, which would have been enough for a top-ten offence) will greatly improve the club’s bench production until Lowry is traded, and may even improve aspects of the starting unit’s attack if he can fully recapture his form from a season ago.

After Vasquez comes Patterson, a player that Raptors were intrigued by in the draft three years go and someone who could possibly supplant Steve Novak in the role of stretch four if he can return to his ’12-’13 shooting from behind the arc. Patterson may not be as deadly from three-point range as Novak (although he did manage to shoot .386 from three last season), but even still he’s a great pick-and-pop option that will help spread the floor for Valanciunas and DeRozan while also providing help in other areas like offensive rebounding and post scoring – something that Novak simply cannot do. As an offensive partner with Valaciunas, you can see the benefits immediately, with Patterson pulling power forwards out of help position and leaving Valanciunas more room to operate on post-ups and more space on dives to the basket.

Unfortunately, what has really held Patterson back in his career thus far has been his defence. It’s not good. Since Valanciunas has not yet developed into the kind of defender that the Raptors expect him to be, playing the two of them together could be problematic at that end. While they fit very nicely on offence, neither one looks capable of picking up the slack for the other on defence. Considering Casey’s predisposition to favour defence first, Patterson may not see enough minutes in the team’s now-crowded frontcourt to affect the rotation in any meaningful way.

That situation could be exacerbated by Hayes, a rugged defender and tremendous team-first guy that Casey may have trouble keeping off of the court, especially when Valanciunas is playing. Despite being hilariously undersized for a centre (6-foot-6), Hayes knows every trick when it comes to positioning and angles and has acted as the last resort on defence for some very good defensive teams in Houston. On paper he replaces the outgoing Aaron Gray, but in reality he is offers so much more to this team. The Kings were 3.8 points per 100 possessions better on defence when Hayes plays this season and were 5.8 points per 100 possessions better last year. The Raptors defensive efficiency has been in a free-fall of late and since Casey knows that he needs a top-tier defence to prove his worthiness as a head coach (in Toronto or elsewhere) you can expect to see Hayes log time, possibly and probably at the expense of newcomer Patterson.

The last new addition is John Salmons, the player that controversially backed-out of a deal with the Raptors in Colangelo’s first year with the club to sign a more lucrative deal with the Kings back in 2006. Salmons is an infuriatingly inconsistent player, but he tends to play really well after he’s been traded and his three-point shooting accuracy (.381 this season) could help offset the loss of Gay’s strong three-point shooting this season. Also of benefit to the Raptors, Salmons is a willing passer. This is why he stands a chance of inheriting the starting small forward spot, because he combines that three-point shot with an ability to get the ball to his teammates, a combination that Gay was never able to master. At 15.0, Salmons possesses an assist percentage that exceeds that of every regular Raptors rotation player outside of Kyle Lowry. Just imagine, the Raptors starting two players that are interested in moving the ball – it’s almost a notion to incredible to be believed.

Of course, Salmons doesn’t have the starting spot yet, and truth be told he may never get it because, again, he’s maddeningly inconsistent. He’s sort of the kind of player that fans tend to hate to have on their own team, which is why it’s also a positive that he’s owed only $1 million on his deal next season, which means the Raptors are almost sure to waive him this summer.

Regardless of how Salmons plays, though, this club has just done a pretty significant remodelling job on large swaths of their roster, and how the rotation shakes out will take a couple of weeks to determine. You can definitely expect Vasquez to get serious minutes, and Salmons will likely see time considering how shallow the wings are. Patterson fits ideally next to Valanciunas on offence, but Hayes fits better on defence, and lest we forget the Raptors already have two effective big men in Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough that have yet to give any reason to be unseated from their spots in the pecking order. There is no doubt that more trades are in the pipeline, but who knows how long that will take. There may be another trade tomorrow, or it may take until February for the next player to be dealt away. Until then, Casey has to figure out how to make his new rotation work, all the while knowing that he’ll likely have to remake it again at some point, all while fighting for his job that seems to constantly be in jeopardy.

Maybe that’s Ujiri’s grand plan, though. Maybe he plans to keep this roster so destabilized that they are never able to create any chemistry or momentum at any point this season, thus leading to a poor enough record to players in the 2014 NBA draft. At 7-12, the Raptors are ninth in the NBA standings, which is not good enough by tanking standards to be considered a ‘success’. At this point I maintain my stance that this team is too good right now to compete with the worst that the NBA has to offer. Last night’s trade, while removing a big name player, actually goes a long way towards balancing the club’s roster and addressing holes that were previously holding them back. They’ve ditched a terribly inefficient forward and replaced him with an a solid backup point guard, two effective big men and an erratic-yet-capable wing that tends to play his best basketball after he’s been traded. The Raptors may be signalling a move into tank mode, but I don’t know that they’ve actually gotten any worse as a result.

RR 3-on-3 Tournament:

  • Plus

    “Patterson fits ideally next to Bargnani on offence” …Freudian slip?

  • sitnonDfence

    I was thinking exactly this as I was watching the comments pour in last night on here and the SacTown site.
    Im an anti tanker but if this team wants to bottom out, its going to have to move lowry and amir.
    These two just simply have too much compete in their DNA , I personally would love to have them on my team. But i understand what needs to be done.
    Cest la vie.
    I sincerelry hope JV stops his pouting and actually stays engaged for longer than 10 minutes. Nut up and be a man. Excuses just walked out the door.

    • FLUXLAND

      It’s funny how fans used to slam a 7 footer who was a poor rebounder, but give a pass to another that is equally as poor (well, not according to some writers on this site, because stats “prove” he’s a “good rebounder”) and contributes nothing else on defense or offense. Oh wait, he’s only 21…undoubtedly, with time he will become a better rebounder, this is something we’ve seen happen before in TO.

    • FLUXLAND

      What’s funny is that, not long ago, the fans were slamming a 7 footer for being a poor rebounder, but give a pass to another one who contributes nothing else on defense or offense. Of course, some writers here will have you believe he’s “a good rebounder” because stats “prove” as much, while claiming he’s only 21 and time is on his side. Because what we’ve learned from the past is that time make one a great rebounder.

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

        You’re really comparing Valanciunas to Bargnani and NOT suggesting you’re just trolling? Yes, because a guy who has a total rebounding percentage of 16.1 is a similar to a player who has a total rebounding percentage of 10.2. But those are just stats, right? Like the ones that you brought up suggesting Sacramento is going to be MUCH better because they now have two guys who can get 20-10.

        Funny how you disregard stats when they don’t agree with you, but bring them up when they do. Mmm.

        • FLUXLAND

          Hmm… really now Tim? Where exactly did I say Sacramento will be MUCH better?

          It has nothing with do with stats agreeing with me. It’s about watching the games – you can sit here and talk to me about rebounding percentage all day, what I am seeing is a guy who does not get rebounds that change the game. In fact, what’s the last time he’s even pulled down consecutive rebounds? What’s the last time he’s pulled down back to back rebounds on opposite ends of the floor? What’ the last time he fought for a rebound and won it?

          And are you really comparing 20-10 guys to rebounding percentage? I don’t even know what you are getting at. Rebounding percentage lies, 20-10 does not.

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

            “In fact, what’s the last time he’s even pulled down consecutive rebounds? What’s the last time he’s pulled down back to back rebounds on opposite ends of the floor? What’ the last time he fought for a rebound and won it?”

            Lots of times. End of discussion.

            • FLUXLAND

              HAHAHAHAHAHA.. Thanks for insight…I mean, laugh.

              • ItsAboutFun

                okay, so you’re not owning him on everything, but that’s par for the course. If you get wound up long enough, you’ll begin to trip. Stll loving this though, lol

          • Tanks-a-lot

            “what I am seeing is a guy who does not get rebounds that change the game”

            I don’t think you actually know what the job of a very strong Center is.

            • FLUXLAND

              Or maybe I have different opinion of what a very strong Center is. And I can assure you, it has nothing do with scoring.

              • Tanks-a-lot

                high percentage shots are a premium in the NBA. Having a Center at 21 that can bang with the best and is just scratching the surface is priceless at the rookie rate.

                get a life.

          • John Pinsky

            Actually, the advanced statistics movement within the NBA is occuring precisely because maxims like having a 20 n 10 guy fail to tell the truth. Rebounding percentage takes things like pace and the total number of rebounds available into consideration so players can be fairly evaluated regardless of which team they play for.

      • Tanks-a-lot

        I wonder who could be behind the Raptor’s rise to the top of the Rebounding charts?

        • FLUXLAND

          Their 26th in L shooing %?

          • Tanks-a-lot

            Somebody has to clean up after Rudy Gay when he shits the bed often.

            • FLUXLAND

              How is 16th in the L, “top of the charts”, btw?

              • Tanks-a-lot

                16th in the League in what? What specific stat?

                I don’t know what you are talking about

                • FLUXLAND

                  “I wonder who could be behind the Raptor’s rise to the top of the Rebounding chart”

                  Umm… you just typed that 30 minutes ago.

                • Tanks-a-lot

                  Oh wow, those stats did change pretty quick.

                  16th is a whole 5 rebounds off from the leader Houston. Gee I wonder why…

                  I guess you don’t see how JV would be valuable as someone who can keep Howard in the single digits in Rebounds and be more valuable than Howard long term due to the higher ceiling on the offensive end for JV

                • FLUXLAND

                  Interesting. Lets’ see: 11/11/13 Howard 24 rebounds. What on Earth are you talking about?

                  And the leader is Houston, the team Howard plays on? Geewiz, that’s odd.

                • Tanks-a-lot

                  ignoring Casey, nice one

          • Tanks-a-lot

            seriously.

            Is there anyone else on the team dealing with the best Centers in the world on a regular basis at 21 and from the Euro leagues?

            • FLUXLAND

              Seriously, eh? Well, now you’re def convincing me.

              Umm… dealing? You call that dealing? OK.

              • Tanks-a-lot

                “Umm… dealing? You call that dealing? OK.”

                Are you regularly pressing your body and arms against other 250+ lbs of 7 foot man meat?

                • FLUXLAND

                  So this is about me, now?

                  Running up and down the floor as the team’s C, doesn’t meant you are “dealing” with anyone, but I am guessing we have different definitions of “dealing”.

                • Tanks-a-lot

                  It is about you because you make comments so you must justify your opinion based on your experiences as an expert

              • TttttttTIMMAY

                Can you post a coherent argument please? You make outlandish statements while never backing them up. You are unwilling to acknowledge others in a discussion, you carry yourself like a pre teen girl who can’t get her candy, you are an agonizing embarrasement who probably thinks Kobe is a better player than Michael Jordan.

                Until you re-educate yourself and bring something to the discussion, you should not post on here

                Cheers

                • FLUXLAND

                  What outlandish statements?

  • Rick

    Article is good but what makes you think this move was to tank? Why are people still talking about tanking. You don’t even know if you could get wiggins!!!! We upgraded our pg back up situation and definitely more ball sharing. Why do people think ujiri’s move was to tank? This tanking bs should stop! We got serviceable players just like how ujiri set it up in Denver. Do you see any Allstar players there? Didn’t think so. There’s team ball. Good job masai. Don’t trade dd or jonas.

    • 2damkule

      not getting into a tank debate, but for clarity’s sake, there is far, far more to this draft than just wiggins. but understanding that would likely require some effort on your part, so i get why you’re sticking to the easy narrative.

    • Thimble

      It makes it a *potential* tank move because Ujiri can now move Lowry without harming the development of JV and TRoss.

  • nyStef

    I’m still half holding my breath that nothing messes this up, until it’s official. One thing looks certain though: Masai is as advertised.

  • afrocarter

    I’m very happy with the Gay trade, but the thought of losing Lowry as well frightens me — especially considering how well he has been playing of late. The Lowry we have been seeing lately is the Lowry we had been expecting ever since he walked into the Raptors locker room. I believe he is good enough to build around, along with JV and Amir.

    • c_bcm

      agreed. I would put DD into that as well. I don’t think Masai will trade Demar unless he gets a first rounder for this year.

      • WhiteVegas

        It would have to be a top 5 pick for it to be worth it. Outside the top 5 this draft is solid but not “better than Derozan” solid. A lot of the guys outside the top 5 won’t amount to squat, so I’d hate to give up on a young proven player like Derozan unless we have someone targeted in the draft to replace him (I’m not sold on Ross as a future starter in the league).

        • 2damkule

          ‘proven.’

          exactly.

  • c_bcm

    I dunno man. I am glad that Rudy is gone. I like the cap space. But looking at the Sac blogosphere, they are pretty excited about this trade. Maybe they don’t know what they are getting themselves into. But they think they are getting an All-star caliber player for spare parts. Salmons is portrayed as a head-case and Hayes isn’t going to miss any fan support either.

    I don’t think this is as detrimental to the tank-job as you think it is. Lowry is definitely gone next (which is too bad because I enjoy watching him play) and GV will be the replacement. I am also sorry to say that I think DD and Amir are also gone…and that will be a sad day.

    It’s all gettin’ blowed up.

    • afrocarter

      Agreed. I will be especially sad if Amir is traded away. He’s been such a leader, a quiet leader, one who let his actions and hustle do the talking. If he goes, what little of an identity the Raptors have leaves with him.

      • c_bcm

        Amir and DD are becoming the heart and soul of this team. Both display a work ethic and discipline that should form the foundation of this franchise moving forward. Young boys need to grow up among men to know what to strive for. Any players we pick up in this years draft should be coming to a team run by these 2 men.

    • 2damkule

      the sacto blogosphere is also seemingly unaware that boogie is an insane person. so there’s that.

      • c_bcm

        There is that. They are totally trying to patch their roster. What a shame. Their fans don’t even seem to notice how bad they are going to continue to be. Not that we’re any better. fml.

      • FLUXLAND

        Star players, insane? This is news? The Raptors traded a star player for what exactly? A bag of scrubs?

        If anything this just proves to the L that, again, TO doesn’t know how to handle/harness talented players. In the battle of “who’s team is it” the Raps sent Rudy packing and sided with DD.

        What’s insane is people can’t see how the Kings put together two guys that will give you 20 and 10 every night and they believe Rudy will make them worse.

        • sleepz

          Most Raps fans are so giddy that Rudy got traded and think Sac is foolish for this move, but the pieces they sent back as a collective aren’t nearly as talented as Gay and I am 100% certain Malone will find better ways to use him than Casey ever did.

          I see logic in the trade for both teams

          • FLUXLAND

            I see the logic, but for the Raptors the only way this makes sense is if Masai knows he’s getting a top 3 pick, (and that’s entirely possible). He’s easily bought himself 5 years of grace, because the fan base is still under the influence of BC’s “any move is a great move” tactic and being able to lean on “it takes time to gel”, “we need a full training camp” and the rest of the Kool Aid lines. He’s only further contributing to the roster carousel this team is known for.

            He pulled a mini MeloNorth move, and people are losing their minds as if getting xyz players for a star player is the most difficult transaction ever. I still think the Kings got a better deal, and it’s mind blowing how Toronto fans hate on talented players even ones that are not on their team.

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

              Why do you keep referring to Gay as a star player? He’s not. He wasn’t in Memphis and he wasn’t in Toronto. He’s a guy that teams can trot out to fans as a star player, because he looks the part, but a closer look tells you he’s a guy who will never be quite as good as you think he should be.

              And the Raptors don’t need a top 3 pick. I think that is pretty well known by now.

              • FLUXLAND

                You don’t have to seem him as a star player, that’s fine.

                What i am looking it is at a player that impacts the game on defense, gets rebounds, timely buckets and passes the ball (when he sees it makes sense) and can impact any faucet of the game whenever he feels like it. Who exactly, on this team, can do that now?

                A disgruntled/ineffective talented player is the product of and organization that doesn’t know how to handle him, otherwise what do you attribute his poor play in TO?

                You can bet your house they need a top 3 pick and they better pray the guy is a franchise player, otherwise you just signed up for 5 plus years of BC all over again – mediocrity.

                • beaverboi

                  I agree with you in your description of Rudy, but there also lies the problem – whenever he wants to. I he had his skill set with the mind set to match, he would for sure be an allstar, but he just doesn’t bring that killer attitude game in-game out. You can blame the organization for mis-handling him, but these elite athletes have to take some of that blame as well – especially when this is the second organization to move him.

                • FLUXLAND

                  I think his attitude is a direct reflection of the teammates he had and how the organization was allowing him to take the brunt of the criticism, while other players were getting complete passes. JV and DD can do no wrong at all while hiding during games, and yet he was the worse thing to happen to this team because he was actually trying to .. you know.. win games. That went on until he checked out and decided to fill up the stat sheet for his nightly double double.

                  Even now DD can have a completely abysmal game and not a single word other then: “had an off night, he’ll bounce back” is uttered.

                  I think two organizations moved Rudy because of his salary… I don’t think they thought he was player that will not make a difference when on the floor. I don’t even think he was even given a fair opportunity in Toronto. DD wanted Rudy to play second fiddle to him, and he doesn’t posses half the talent, while the organization sided with DD.

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

                  The two teams he’s played on have gotten better offensively AFTER he left. End of discussion.

                • FLUXLAND

                  Very cute with your end of discussion stuff. Save it for your kid, pal.

                  Better offensively? Oh my…that’s… special.

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

                  I’m saying that because I’ve learned there’s no point in discussing anything with you. You back up absolutely none of your arguments with anything concrete, and just belittle players to get a reaction. You use stats when they suit you and blast them when they don’t. And when you’re backed up against a wall your argument starts becoming circular.

                  I’m not sure why I keep replying, but I simply don’t see the point of continuing.

                • FLUXLAND

                  Back them up with what, Tim? Statistical “FACTS”? Like what, when you tell us x player is young?

                  It’s only not concrete because you disagree.

                  Backed up against the wall? LOL! This from the guy that runs away with “Zach Lowe said so, end of discussion”. I have rebuttal for any comment made in a discussion, trust me, I’m never backed up against the wall.

                  I point blank asked you how is DD better than Gay and you reply with “my hero said so”. And my arguments are circular? Riiight.

                • Milesboyer

                  The fact of the matter is that Rudy Gay is a liability that only one team in the league was dumb enough to trade for. The Raptors have had a losing record since he’s been “the best player” on the team. If your “star” player can’t even keep you at .500 then he ain’t no star. And that doesn’t even take into consideration how painful he is to watch.

              • sleepz

                Gay is not a star, but we all know he is far more talented than how we have seen him in a Raps uniform.

            • sleepz

              Agreed. A top 3 pick has to be one of the eventual outcomes.

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

                It does not appear to be a three player draft, though, so a top 3 pick isn’t necessarily necessary.

                • sleepz

                  Agreed, but a top 3 pick ensures you’re narrowing down your choices and don’t have to worry as much about teams in front of you picking the player(s) you like.

          • Plus

            So talented that he refused to see his own stats in the locker room.

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

          Listen to this podcast with Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe:
          http://espn.go.com/espnradio/grantland/player?id=10073986

          I trust Zache Lowe’s opinion over any other NBA analyst, and he says he’d take DeRozan over Gay. I’m obviously not a big fan of DeRozan’s game, but if I was forced to choose between the two, I’d take DeRozan every time.

          Besides, you assume it’s a choice between the two. DeRozan could be one of the next players to go.

          • FLUXLAND

            You cant trust and listen to whoever you’d like, I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean to me.

            What does DD do better than Gay? Does he rebound better? Does he have a better post game? Does he play better in the clutch? Does he play better defense? Dear Jah, man, do you not see how many absolute bricks this guys shoots a game?

            It’s funny how a few weeks ago, Tim C was telling us Rudy is “struggling the right way” and today he was a cancer. Again, Tim, you can blame the players all you want, but you should probably take a look at all the players with considerable talent that have left here talking about how this organization deals with players, and your boy DD doesn’t have half the talent they did.

            • Mexiballer

              “What does DD do better than Gay?” He doesn’t suck the life force out of the team.

              • FLUXLAND

                Because what DD does is raise his team’s level of play, inspires them with his brick shooting and carries them on his back when opponents put on game changing runs. Please. DD sucks the life force out of his team by doing nothing at all, other then getting his while the team is down by 10 plus.

                • ItsAboutFun

                  LOL, we seldom agree, and I don’t agree with your stance here, but am sure as hell enjoying reading you own Timmy! Good job, lad!

                • TIMMMAY

                  Dont be so near sighted, the raptors shaved 12 million off the payroll and got rid of an absolute cancer in the process.

                  Fact: Rudy Gay is not worth the mid-level exception at this point (source: Grantland)
                  Fact: He is shooting below 41% (the mendoza line for strters)
                  Fact: He does not get to the free-throw line often enough and hogs the ball to stggering degrees
                  Fact: Rudy Gay is a career loser, Memphis advanced deep into the playoffs with him on the shelf and lost as a favorite in the first round with him playing
                  Fact: Rudy Gay is not a star player
                  Fact: The raptors play better when Rudy Gay is not on the court

                  You seem to be a low-class NBA fan who only cares about the amount of points a guy scores and the fact that he is a big name, the modern NBA is about way more than that. I suggest you start re-educating yourself on how to properly discuss the NBA so that you do not appear like a 14-year old.

                  Cheers

                • FLUXLAND

                  That’s rich. You are going to give me advice on how to discuss something, when the finer points of a discussion escape you entirely.,

                  First of all, where in this discussion did anyone speak of the financial implications of the trade?

                  What would be near sighted is to assume his play of late is the norm, but you want to claim this is fact? Really now? Funny how he’s become a cancer while in TO, but never labeled as such before.

                  Then, what exactly does him not being with the Grizz during those runs prove? Nothing. There’s no evidence suggesting these teams would have done worse with him in the line up… so what FACTS are you talking about?

                  He’s not a star, in your opinion. His skill-set would argue otherwise, but you can’t see that.

                  So ultimately, you seem to be the new modern zero clue NBA fan who views the game as a binary code and is only capable of bringing up financial and statistical merits of a player, while completely ignoring their skills set, which was the original discussion. I would bet a 14 year old knows how to carry on a discussion better than you, so stay in your lane and be quiet when adults are speaking.

                • milesL

                  FLUXLAND you are sadly running your mouth. Gay is shooting below 40% from the field and is 125th in the league in points per shot attempt. How can you defend that. I”ve seen mutiple instances where Rudy chose not to pass the ball on the fast break and ended up getting blocked or fouled in a non shooting manor. Not to mention him getting stripped 75% of the time he took it to the rack. He stinks, get over yourself you’re wrong. You speak of DD’s bricks but you have him confused with Gay. Derozan shoots 45% from the field, so get real

                • FLUXLAND

                  If you want to think his play in TO is the norm, be my guest.

                  Get real? Son, please. A 5 year player is shooting a few absolute bricks and sometimes airballs during the game, as if he just picked up a basketball yesterday,

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

              Zach Lowe is probably the smartest basketball mind writing right now. End of discussion.

              • FLUXLAND

                Yes…writing. Convincing writing can be found anywhere, all you have to do is believe.

            • Milesboyer

              Saying Rudy Gay is more talented than Demar doesn’t mean a damn thing. It’s a team game for one and players do have contracts which affect their value. It’s been written by more than just Zach Lowe that DD has more value around the league than Rudy Gay and I think it’s clear to everyone who watches the team as well. You seem to be in a very small minority with your opinion and it’s hard to imagine you think keeping Gay would do anything positive for this team. They may not get a top 3 pick by unloading him but they’re in an even worse position with him and his contract and his black hole offence. There’s just no way to argue differently at this point.

          • sleepz

            Is he not factoring in the salary differences between the 2 players?

            I respect Lowe to the fullest, but if salaries were removed and we just compared sheer basketball skills and abilites, I would still have to rank Gay higher than Derozan at this point.

            Until Demar shows he can play defence, imho I couldn’t agree that he is a better basketball player than Rudy, regardless of what we have seen this year.

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

              That’s not the question. The question is which player would you rather have. Not who is the most talented player. Sometimes you take the less talented player because he’s better for the team.

              In this case, I don’t particularly want either, but if forced to choose, I go with DeRozan. He’s a harder worker, a guy who isn’t going to bring the offense to a crashing halt NEARLY as much as Gay. And he’s younger.

    • Nilanka15

      Some good points raised by Tim, but he’s forgetting one important tidbit: Dwane Casey is still coaching this team.

      The same Dwane Casey that plays 5 bench players together, has no idea how to draw up plays, hasn’t met a 10-0 run that warrants a timeout, and can’t seem to get Novak any open looks.

      Regardless of who’s going out/coming in, this is a poorly coached club, with very little (visible) consequences for poor decisions on the floor. This trade likely isn’t going to make any difference in the W-L column.

      • Jamshid

        This is not the last move by UM. He moved a big contract and now he can move all these small expiring contracts for picks or … There are many more trades still to come.

      • ckh26

        So perhaps thats the plan. To put in enough talent to develop a bench and some talent base but leave it rudderless and ineffective through coaching. Have your cake and eat it too. :-)

    • ac1011990

      I’m kind of neutral about this deals for the raps, because i feel like its addition by subtraction. To be honest if i was a Kings fan i would be pretty excited about this deal. The Rudy to Toronto deal was harder to accept for most of us because both Calderon and Davis were well liked players. However the kings had 4 players that they didn’t need and turned them into a player who could potentially help. I don’t know how this experiment will work in Sacramento, but it doesn’t hurt to try. The kings are in win now mode and if Rudy can help them that would be great, if it doesn’t work they really didn’t lose anything of value and he could help them save over 19 mill by opting out. Hope with some better coaching he can turn things around. Wish him the best of luck.

  • sleepz

    The trade may make the roster less clustered but less talented as well. As much as the new pieces might fit in better, the pecking order changes now and Derozan becomes the #1.

    Demar while improved this year is not influencing the game to the point where this team will now be better. I would actually be more concerned if Lowry had a bigger role in the offence and they were going to run with him and Grevis at the point for the remainder of the year, but I feel Lowry is next on the block.

    The more trades, the more difficult it is to try and assemble all these pieces on the fly during the season. This one move might not make them bottom feeders now, but at least we have a better sense of the direction they are moving in, which is to bottom out.

  • Huey Newton

    Great article, Tim. Really enjoying your tenure here. One thing though: I’m all for giving the incoming players a chance but please don’t patronize us with words like “exceptional” and “sweet-shooting” when talking about the guys we got. People need to realize that what we’re getting is a scrap heap from the Sacramento Kings, one of the worst teams in the league and a perennial loser (just like the Raptors! :D). These guys weren’t great in SoCal, I doubt they’ll be blowing many minds in frigid Toronto. Bringing Salmons here is a disaster waiting to happen – I hope they give him 5 mil just to not get on the plane!

    • c_bcm

      Agreed. Salmons is a nightmare for any team trying to establish an identity of hard nose highly disciplined basketball. Which I believe is the intention….?

      • robertparrish00

        I just hope Casey doesn’t find an alan anderson affinity in Salmons.

    • Michael F

      Totally agree with this, the only players I see value in is Vasquez (especially as a potential starter and his ability to run the Pick and Roll) and Patrick Patterson (more so as a bench contributor, I like his game and with a good run of minutes can put up numbers), Hayes could be useful at times but I doubt it. As for Salmons, he should be glued to the bench.

      This trade could allow us to occasionally slide Demar to the SF and have Ross man the 2. That combo could be deadly (Ross has yet to really prove himself but given his ceiling he needs to play around 30 a game). Heck If Lowry’s on his way out too I’d love to see a starting lineup of Vasquez, Ross, DD, Amir/Psycho T, JV

    • WigginsParkerExumRandle

      Sacramento is actually NoCal, not SoCal, but we’ll forgive this geographical oversight.

      • Hassan Mehmood Khan

        you are wrong its considered central cal

        • Tanks-a-lot

          Fresno would be ‘Central’

          lrn2geography

          • lewro

            http://www.maps.com/map.aspx?pid=17252

            fresno is borderline but technically it’s norcal. culture and weather make it feel a little more socal. it’s in the interior too so it’s not really like norcal or socal.

      • lewro

        it’s actually Norcal.

  • Bendit

    A good analysis of what might be and thank you for your concern for tank-nation. You did not mention (at least not explicitly) about the possibility that at least some of the players coming back may be moved in another deal hopefully inclusive of picks which was sadly missing in this exchange but a significant pillar of a proper rebuild. The tank must be maintained for this season. The correct domino has fallen.

  • GoingBig

    One point about PG Vasquez – he is slooooow. He’s a defensive liability like Jose Calderon. A lesser problem as a backup but still. Maybe pair him with defensive Patterson on the bench.

    • Bendit

      How slow is the issue and if net value compensates. If he was fast…with his size and passing he’d be an all-star and he would certainly not have been available.

  • rapierraptor

    I thought this tweet from David Locke was pretty funny last night: “Raptors will win tonight – Grizzlies won 15 of 19 after trading Gay last
    year. Think of the lead in the Atlantic the Raptors would have.”

    I do think the team will play better because of improved chemistry and that Patterson and Vasquez fill needs but I expect to still end up as a lottery team. That said, cheers to Ujiri.

  • A G

    Tank-triggered move? I’m not saying it isn’t but wow you guys jump to conclusions. Tank or not this was a good trade for the raps, assuming Masai is gonna get rid of our players who aren’t complete and utter black holes on offense is jumping the gun a bit. Clearly he is no clown and won’t be trying so hard to give away our better players for nothing just to tank.

  • WhiteVegas

    Vasquez is the perfect tank job PG. He runs a beautiful offense and will improve the play of all our guys on that end. JV will especially benefit from his presence as Vasquez is fantastic at running the pick and roll.
    So how does this make him a perfect tank job PG you say? He’s perfect because even though he will improve our offense and make it fun to watch, he is way too slow to play effective defense and he will give up a ton of points on that end versus what Lowry was able to do (Lowry is a pretty good defender).

    So we get to have out cake and eat it too. We get to see JV develop on offense all while trotting out a team that should lose just based on poor defense. Amir or Hansbrough will be sent packing too so we’ll be missing even more on the defensive end by the time the trades are all said and done.

    • Thimble

      I can see Casey matching Vasquez with slower/non-offense minded opponent PGs, and Lowry plays the rest of the time.

      I can’t see Amir being sent out. He’s the heart and soul of the team and it would hurt morale. We still want guys like TRoss and JV to be happy to be in Toronto.

      • WhiteVegas

        I think you’re right that we keep Amir. I’d say Hansbrough is the PF to get traded, possibly in a package with Lowry. Hansbrough’s contract is less than half of Amir’s so his contract would fit nicely on a lot of contenders. If Amir can keep up his recent play then it would be in our best interest to keep him around.

  • anony

    I hope ppelico doesn’t have another stroke after he finds out gray has been traded….

  • FREEJV

    I have a feeling salmons is gonna get traded before he steps foot in canada lmao

  • jvucbb

    I agree this moves is not about tanking. This move was simply to improve the raptors UFA flexibility in the off season and to deepen the bench. Masai is still trying to build a competitive for the long term future rather then gutting the team and restarting aknew

  • Tanks-a-lot

    Nobody feels bad about the Bargnani bust because we got to see the most overpaid player of all time.

    Feels so good to be rid of both though.

  • kaiokev

    In a perfect world, Landry Fields is next……

  • moe

    don’t worry guys, we still have DJ and Austin daye in case of tanking emergency

    • Ashwin

      You forgot to mention Casey!

  • Paul

    What about starting Vasquez at the 2 (he’s 6′ 6″) and letting Lowry play off the ball on offense?
    Demar might have better luck with penetration playing at the 3, which is really his biggest strength offensively.

    Could be interesting

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

      DeRozan’s biggest strength is his ability to post up smaller defenders. Playing SF would limit his post ups, and require him to take his man off the dribble more, which he’s not as strong at because he doesn’t have good handles and he’s actually not that quick with the ball.

      • Nilanka15

        True, but when was the last time DeRozan made a concerted effort to post up anyone?

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

          Well, according to Synergy Sports, 10% of his offensive plays are post ups, which is only slightly less than how off he uses isolations. Of course, it also says that post ups are his least efficient way to score, so there’s that.

      • Tanks-a-lot

        DD as a SGuard needs to look for 3s, so post ups are going to be rare in all cases forward.

        In no way shape or form does DeRozan look like someone that could possibly be a SForward in the NBA. He just looks small on the court as a 2. I would pity DD if he were forced to endure the 3 position in the NBA.

    • sleepz

      Vasquez doesn’t have the foot speed to guard the 2

  • The Rub

    “There is the pass-first point guard Greivis Vasquez, the sweet-shooting
    big man Patrick Patterson, the exceptional post defender Chuck Hayes and
    three-point threat (and one-time near-Raptor) John Salmons.”

    How are you only going to describe Rudy in the bad and then shine up the turds that the Kings sent back.

    These 4 could easily be described as Jose Calderon with even worse defense and shooting, Big man who plays small that 2 teams gave up on after drafting him in the lottery, over the hill vet only in the league due to having a contract and a broke player who’s best days lasted a season-and-a-half.

    They’re not as bad as I’m describing, but they sure as hell aren’t as good as you’re describing.

  • Phat AlberG

    I think trade is interesting one, because I do agree with Tim. By getting rid of Rudy Gay was huge on both sides for the team and the fan base. An I think honestly Masai want’s to give Demar, Kyle & Amir a chance to prove to him, but question is how long would you give them. Because I know a lot of us are on the side of Tank nation, but I really believe Masai wants too win. Cause honestly the team improved after the trade, and there is no denying the fact. But the question how many games do you give them?… 5, 10 or 15

    • Tanks-a-lot

      15

      Rudy Gay will go down in history as the biggest black hole of all time for the money paid

  • regression

    Tanknation is insane…we traded a top talent that wanted to be here that wasn’t playing well (possibly because of the terrible coaching that puts the wrong players in the wrong positions to run no plays at all the wrong times) and a big with a ton of potential and heart (but again, playing for a coaching staff that has been completely unable to progress any player) for a bunch of players that have never played very well at their max potential. Why is this a good deal???? so we can have a shot at picking another Bargnani or Araujo?…a yes, this draft will be different, we can get an Oden or Tracy (I want out now) McGrady. Wake up all, we have been tanking for 2 decades under a bunch of genius GMs and we are nowhere. Build around DD, T-Ross and JV with the RIGHT coach. Aim for the playoffs this year

    • Plus

      Not sure where your comment was going. Gay can’t make layups, passes, dunks and is a ball hog. He’s no top talent. Clutch in some situations but not top talent. He just got lucky getting paid that amount by the Grizzlies. Flashback, when he was out because of injury, Memphis played better. When Gay had 2 quick fouls not so long ago, insert Fields, Raptors played better. Insert Gay back in… team sucked again. He’s a good player but he needs to take it down a notch on the diva meter. He didn’t want to look at his stats in the locker room. Who does that?

      IF the Raptors wanted to tank they would have kept him because he would implode the team. Casey is another issue.

      It’s a good deal because we are getting financial flexibility. That’s always a good thing. Adding to the team chemistry like Velasquez (Calderone 2.0) is great… Pick and roll! Refer to Amir’s 32pts. He got touches during last night’s game.

      MU is not done yet and also time will tell. Sacramento will curse us later for getting Gay. lol….

      • regression

        my point was why is Masai tearing up the roster without at least having the right coaching staff in place. I am not defending Gay, he has frankly played horribly…but the first step is to put a coach in place that will at a minimum develop the young talent. JV is going backwards and TRoss is not developing…that is completely unacceptable. If you had a coaching staff in place that at least used Gay more effectively and developed the young core more effectively, MU could have dealt him from a position of strength…like Memphis did last year. After seeing the debacle in Golden State, every GM knows you are desperate to unload players at any cost. If the raptors were closer to .500 (and they would be without the bad decisions at the end of games like playing 5 bench guys deep into the 4th), they get a Calderon/Davis type deal for Rudy, not a desperate team to desperate team type deal. We don’t need to tank to build a Pacers type team, but we can’t do that if the coach doesn’t understand how to develop players or how to rotate them…let Ross dunk!

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

          On the other hand, why hire a new coach only to have him coach a lost year? Why not wait until the summer, when the picture will be much clearer, to hire a new coach?

    • Tanks-a-lot

      Gay is past coaching. The NBA is a Players league with social workers as Head Coaches.

  • Hassan Mehmood Khan

    when I see lowry and derozan get traded then I know the tank is on

    • Tanks-a-lot

      The East is difficult to effectively tank in no matter what Masai does.

  • Louvens Remy

    The NBA, where talk about losing and making your team worst is applauded. Unbelievable. We make fun of the Atlantic Division for its putridity but applaud teams for being ^smart^ in making their teams worst. I get it. This draft is amazing. Yes, but what kind of league is this. They should look into changing the rules of the draft so they don~t reward teams that are intentionally putting an inferior product on the field or court. This would eliminate most of this tanking talk. For the most part I want to talk about the game and how we are trying to win, not about how we can continue to be a squad of born losers every night in the hopes that we get a blue chipper. I hope the Raps don~t get in the lottery, just to spite all this tanking nonsense.

    • Nilanka15

      NHL and NFL are no different. The worst teams are rewarded with the draft. It’s how it’s always been. It’s how it always will be.

      Discussing tanking is discussing winning.

      • Louvens Remy

        That~s why i think they should change it. You do not have this rampant discussion about tanking in the NHL or NFL. If it was such a big deal in the NFL you would have a lot more teams trying to go 0-16 or 1-15. But for the most part each team comes out and plays real hard. that is why the Jags, or Tampa Bay are winning and not rolling over and shitting on their fans.
        Discussing tanking is discussing losing and dreaming about winning.

        • Nilanka15

          Ask Bills fans what they’re thoughts on tanking are. They’ve been begging for it for the past 20 years, lol.

          • Louvens Remy

            Im a Bills fan too. They~ve been real shit for 20 years and have made some of the worst managerial decisions known to man. I don~t want to discuss the whole tanking thing again because its been done to death. Im just annoyed by the whole non stop discussion of tanking. It doesn~t look good on your league and for the product on the court.

            • Nilanka15

              IMO, all this tanking talk is a direct result of crappy management. If us Raptor fans hadn’t put up with so much crap over the years, we wouldn’t be so desperate for change.

              Don’t blame the league or the fans. Blame the people in charge (Colangelo et al). The pro-tankers just want a winning product, and are simply advocating the most realistic way of obtaining that product.

    • Tanks-a-lot

      You do realize that this is the LeBron Era, don’t you?

      Only LeBron, and sometimes other surprises, will be Champion.

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

      I don’t LIKE the fact that getting worse is the best way for some teams to get better, but that’s the way the NBA is. And until that’s not the case, then I think the Raptors should do whatever they can to build a contender. If that means tanking in a year when there’s a loaded draft, then that’s what they should do.

      You’d rather see the Raptors spin their wheels in mediocrity just to spite fans who hope for something better than that? That seems kind of like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

      • Louvens Remy

        They~ve been in the lottery 13 out of 18 years in the league. I don~t know what to say anymore. I am just a frustrated fan. I guess all we are doing is blaming the last 18 years on management then. If the Raps do get in the lottery and dont succeed then what. Even in the draft of 2004, Dwade is the only guy that ^won^ a title by himself. Its all well and good to get a superstar but Carmelo still hasnt done anything, neither Chris Paul. Bosh wouldnt have done anything if it wasnt for teaming up with Lebron and Wade. and Lebron would have eventually won something but not by himself. I just think we are making way more out of this draft then we think. For the analyticnerds this translates to a LotteryDraftRate% of 72. I would rather have a team that competes, plays hard and is fun to watch. I dont give a crap about star power.

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

          But they’ve only had a top 5 pick six times, and those picks netted (either through the draft or by trading the pick), Charles Oakley, Antonio Davis, Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas. Three of those players ended up being All Stars, three were core players for the best team the franchise has ever had, and it’s far too early to judge Valanciunas.

          No one is suggesting that tanking will guarantee a Championship, but if the Raptors can draft an elite player, they will be far better off and have a chance to build the best team the franchise has ever had.

          Or they could try and vie for the playoffs and get some playoff experience for the current crop of players they have, none of whom are good enough to lead the team anywhere.

          You may not give a crap about star power, but if you want to build a contender, you generally need one of those.

  • tonious35

    Next move, Waive Austin Daye. Whenever I see him I want to wipe my ass with him because he is soft as Cottonelle….

    • Louvens Remy

      I didnt know he was on the team still.

  • Bryan Colangelo

    I’m sure Masai still wants to tank, but the opportunity to off-load Rudy’s terrible contract for four reasonable, tradeable assets was too good to pass up. This was definitely the right call, even if it hurts our tanking chances temporarily.

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  • ivocoi

    Many if not most people on this site were excited about the Rudy trade in the exact same manner that Sacramento is now. Sacramaento fans will some comes to realize that he is more of a liability than an asset. They 16-20 or so points per game he’ll give them will be overshadowed by his persistently poor FG%. This was a better trade for the Raptors and I agree with those who think they might actually become better just by not having Gay around.

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