The case for Rudy Gay to the Raptors: Heisley speaks to rumours (277)
Similar to the thread for the case for Steve Nash to the Raptors, I offer the case for Rudy Gay to the Raptors.
Before I talk about the Raptors acquiring Gay, it is important to talk about why he is a likely trade target. Memphis is a very good NBA team. Unfortunately if they have not already done so, they are about to hit a wall. Here are reasons why:
1) Finances. The Grizzlies have $54M tied up in Gay, Randolph, Gasol, and Conley. They have $62.4M tied up in 9 players for next year - and that does not include a proven backup PG, back up PF or C, bench scoring, or players capable of shooting from 3. The $62.4M also does not include the qualifying offers to Mayo, Speights, or Arthur nor the guaranteed contract of the 25th pick in the draft. 4 of these players makes the team an automatic luxury tax team if those offers are made and pick is kept.
Straight from Michael Heisley's Canadian anthem butchering mouth:
2) Piggy-backing on the finances, the Grizzlies need depth - specifically a backup PG, back up C, three point shooting, and bench scoring. Watching the Grizzlies play in the playoffs the last 2 seasons depth was the difference. If the Grizzlies hope to push beyond the 2nd round of the playoffs, these needs have to be addressed. The problem is since Heisley is not going to be a taxpayer (and miss out on the revenue sharing as a result) they need to address these areas with just $7.9M of salary.
Heisley said it's too soon to predict what moves, if any, that the team will make to improve the roster.
He did emphasize, though, that the franchise isn't in position to add much salary.
The Griz have big contracts committed to Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. They have Mike Conley on a modest long-term deal, and will have to make similar tough decisions on several free agents this summer.
"We can't be in the luxury tax business," Heisley said. "We've got to make some financial decisions. That's without question.
3) The argument of Gay-Randolph needing more time together is a false one.
Gay and Randolph can co-exist. There are three problems with the pairing though:
Mannix's column is the latest but far from the first to indulge this oversight. Early on, in a column that wonders whether Gay and Randolph can “learn to coexist,” he reports that the Grizzlies finished last season on a 15-10 run after Gay was injured, presumably to suggest how well the team played when Randolph didn't have to share the court with Gay. But how'd they do in the 25 games before Gay was injured? Try 17-8.
More egregious is the column's close: “A full season together would help Gay and Randolph jell — but an early exit means they might not get it.”
If only we could see what it looks like when Randolph and Gay play a full season together. But to do that you have to flash back two whole years, before the Grizzlies returned to the playoffs, a period during which the franchise apparently didn't exist.
That was 2009-2010, Randolph's first season with the Grizzlies, when he and Gay missed a combined three games. Playing together all season — This really happened. You can look it up. — Randolph made his first All-Star team and Gay averaged 20 points on 47% shooting. The team was in the playoff hunt despite having possibly one of the worst benches in NBA history — second-round rookie Sam Young was the sixth man and the only bench player who had any business even playing regular NBA minutes that season. The team had a winning record until Marc Gasol missed the final month with a season-ending injury. The starting lineup of Mike Conley-O.J. Mayo-Gay-Randolph-Gasol was one of the most effective primary lineups in the league that season.
a) they are always going to be one injury to or one bad game from Gay-Gasol-Conley-Randolph away from not being their best,
b) without paying luxury tax, they will have little depht to balance the attack, and
c) to get the most out of one of Gay or Randolph, the other will have to take a back seat - and at $16M-plus per season, that is an expensive seat.
4) Of their four large contracts, Gay is going to return the most value because: Gasol fills the toughest position in basketball (i.e. he is untouchable), Randolph is oldest with a sketchy past and owed $50M over the next 3 years, and Conley is a reasonable contract. Being a small market, non-luxury tax team the Grizzlies need depth over star power. They are going to be a better team with a strong back up PG and C and role players who can space the floor.
5) Gay is the Andrea Bargnani of the Memphis fan base. For many fans the guy can do no right. If he has a good game and loses, they should have gone to Randolph more. If they go to Randolph, he is a bum because he is getting paid max money to put up less than max production. With Memphis taking Randolph on as their adopted son, Gay (and as a result Memphis) is in a lose-lose situation.
So Memphis might trade Gay but why should Toronto be the trade partner with Memphis?
1) Toronto can provide what Memphis needs: role players, high draft pick, and financial relief.
Looking around the league there are rumours of Golden State wanting a star SF. GSW could provide the 7th pick, Klay Thompson, and Dorrell Wright. Unfortunately the numbers would not work and another contract would have to be added to make it work: the options would be Andris Biedrins ($18M, 2 years) or Richard Jefferson ($21.2M, 2 years). Jefferson creates a backlog at SF (and an expensive one at that) with still no backup PG or C. Biendris provides a backup C but one who averages 1.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 16 minutes but shoots 11.1% (no mistype) from the FT line.
Stephen A. Smith is adamant that Philly is going to look to trade Igoudala and mentioned a swap of Gay and AI as a possibility. Personally, I don't see that trade helping Memphis. It still leaves them with numerous holes in their lineup and gives them just an extra $1.7M to fill out their roster. AI's production and health has been in decline the last few seasons.
Sacramento is the team - other than Toronto that makes the most sense - to trade for Rudy Gay. They have cap space to take on his contract, a high draft pick (#5), and a young player (Tyreke Evans) to send back. I do see problems for both sides though. For Memphis, Tyreke Evans is going to be looking to get PAID next year. That puts them back in a similar situation they are already in - especially if he has a return to rookie season production. For Sacramento, ownership is in a bitter battle that will likely end in relocation of the franchise and ownership is also suffering financially. Could Sacramento take on Gay and his $54M contract over the next 3 years?
As for Toronto, a package of James Johnson, Ed Davis, and #8 pick provides depth to the roster, a possible starting replacement in JJ and/or the pick. This trade would also provide them with $7M in cap space prior to July 1st. If the trade was made with enough time before July 1st, they might be able to use that space prior to July 1st to get another player that fits a need (or 3rd team could be brought in on the trade). The Grizzlies could then look at keeping their own free agents after July 1st and/or using the MLE to round out their roster.
To wrap up #1, I'm not sure the Grizzlies want what Toronto would be offering but, outside of Sacramento, I am having difficulty finding another trade partner that would offer as many benefits as the Raptors.
2) Toronto needs a dynamic scoring wing. I do not consider DeRozan a dynamic scorer because he has difficulty creating for himself and is inconsistent from deep. Gay would provide Toronto with something they have not had since Wince left. He did shoot a career low of 32% from three last year but considering the abnormal schedule and return from shoulder injury, I think there is reason to believe he would return closer to his career average (and if lucky the 39.6% prior to his shoulder injury).
3) Gay is only turning 26 in August. He is entering his prime. His biggest knock has been inconsistency on defense. He has all the tools, it comes down to motivation and teaching. Dwane Casey is a great teacher and motivator. I think Gay could take the next step as a near all-star to a legit all-star in Toronto.
4) Rudy Gay is overpaid but the Raptors are not getting a player of his calibre without overpaying to begin with via free agency. Getting a talent such as him through the draft is hardly a guarantee and would take time to develop. With the current salary cap situation, Toronto would be able to take on Gay's contract with minimal short term or long term ill-effects. The highest paid players currently on Toronto are Calderon ($10.5M expiring after 12-13) and Bargnani ($10M, $11M, and $12M over next three years). Given Gay is only 26 and the remarkable influence Casey was able to have on Bargnani, after a few months of working with Casey, Gay might not be considered overpaid.
5) Colangelo's comment suggest big things to happen this summer. Trading for Rudy Gay would be B-I-G in my opinion. TheScore.ca RaptorsBlog sums it up nicely:
6) Toronto would have a young, dynamic and exciting front court for at least the next 3 years of Gay, Bargs, and JV with solid possible reserves in Kleiza, Amir, and Gray (assuming ED and JJ were dealt).
With money to spend, young assets and the right coach in tow, only one guaranteed season left on his own contract and after two seasons of rebuilding, you would have to assume that any general manager or basketball executive would be “raring to go,” as Colangelo put it last Friday
Colangelo is not just any general manager though, and we’ve all seen what he can do and is willing to do over the course of one summer when he sees the chance to vastly improve his team. This off-season should be no different.
Perhaps the greatest sign comes from a letter, addressed to season seat holders by Colangelo, in which he thanks seat holders and welcomes them to follow along for “what should be an exciting and active offseason.”
An average off-season to Bryan Colangelo is an active off-season to the average general manager. An “exciting and active” off-season to Colangelo, when you look at some of the off-seasons he’s had here in Toronto, leaves a lot to the imagination of Raptors fans.
This is a team that not only has a large amount of cap space to be used in the summer, but also has as much cap flexibility as any team between now and July 1, and based on Colangelo’s comments, you can probably bet he’ll be trying to utilize that space sooner, rather than later.
7) Giving up a top 10 draft pick is never easy but it appears the Raptors might be able to get another draft pick fairly easily if they wish to:
It is also important to remember that many feel Valanciunas would be the consensus #2 pick if he were in this draft. Plus the Raptors have an early 2nd round pick that might yield a promising player given the depth of the draft.
Teams Looking to Trade First-Round Picks: Over the next few weeks, don’t be surprised if a large number of teams outside of the lottery try to trade their first-round pick.
Multiple sources have told HOOPSWORLD that a lot of teams are trying to get rid their pick, which could make for an interesting draft night.
“Almost everyone wants to get out of their pick in this draft,” said one Western Conference executive. “For some teams, it’s hard to take on money for multiple years in this economic climate, especially if the player would not make an impact and help the team win immediately.”
8) Colangelo was very high on Gay in the 2006 draft. It was him or Bargnani from what I recall.
If I left anything out on the case for Rudy Gay to Toronto add a post.
I can think of arguments against Gay coming to Toronto but I figure I'll leave that to others because I think the positives far outweigh the negatives.