Full article below. Detroit got an A for its salary dump and Memphis got B+.
TORONTO RAPTORS: C-
Incoming: Rudy Gay, Hamed Haddadi
Outgoing: Jose Calderon, Ed Davis, a 2013 second-round pick and cash
Letís start with the good news: The Point Forward has advocated since at least December that Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo should trade Jose Calderon in advance of this yearís deadline because there was no good reason for Calderon to re-sign in Toronto this summer. Something was better than nothing, the simple logic went.
OK, now the bad news: this wasnít exactly what we had in mind. At all. The Raptors are taking a massive plunge in acquiring Gay, who is set to be paid $37.1 million over the next two seasons. There are situations in which that type of financial commitment to Gay could make sense; Toronto just isnít one of them, not with big commitments already made to Andrea Bargnani, Landry Fields, and Amir Johnson, plus a large new deal kicking in for DeMar DeRozan next season. Letís not forget: Kyle Lowry is due for a raise relatively soon, too.
While Gay certainly addresses a position of need at the three, his shot-happy ways are likely to create friction alongside the likes of Bargnani and DeRozan, who also require shots and touches. Given that the available small forward options were Fields, Mickael Pietrus and Linas Kleiza, drastically overpaying for average-ish results probably doesnít sound that bad to Raptors fans, but the duplication of skill sets among key players and the lack of distribution-minded playmakers is going to become an issue quickly.
The quality of this deal, then, hinges on whether Gay can have a transforming, superstar-like impact. There are plenty of doubters who will say the answer is a flat ďnoĒ because his numbers have flat-lined in recent years, his shooting percentages (40.8 percent overall and 31.0 percent on threes) leave much to be desired, and his 14.3 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is mediocre at best. Thereís no question Gay will see a significant uptick in his numbers as he shifts from being one of many options in Memphis to becoming the clear No. 1 guy in Toronto, but this boils down to whether or not you want him to be the guy taking 20+ shots a night if the quality of those shots donít improve significantly from the ones heís taken over the last four or five years.
There are other questions too. Does he make his teammates better? Heís never averaged more than three assists per game. Can he mesh with Bargnani, another perimeter chucker, once he returns from injury? That seems highly unlikely. Does he possess the personality type to lead a young team to new heights? Heís regarded as a good teammate, without question, but he wasnít necessarily the emotional leader in Memphis. The biggest question mark: If his commitment to excellence was sometimes doubted in Memphis, a solid playoff team in recent years, how will he respond to a stiffer challenge in Toronto? The answer to that one wonít come in the immediate aftermath of this trade, which will likely spark some big nights, but in the dog days down the stretch.
This move has the overwhelming feel of an oft-criticized executive desperate to make a splashy shake-up that relieve some of the heat during another lottery season. Will this buy Colangelo more time? Perhaps. Will this move make Toronto a playoff team next season? Probably not. Will it make for an expensive roster that is unlikely to deliver good value? Almost without a doubt. Does it force the Raptors to ship out out Bargnani? Hopefully, for the Raptorsí fan baseís sake, but that will likely prove easier said than done, especially in the short term.
Toronto appears to have gotten worked on the minor details of this trade too. Surely Memphis fought hard for Davisí inclusion, but why go further than that? Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that Haddadi, making $1.3 million this year, is likely to be bought out, adding to the expense. Thatís not horrible, and the salaries must match, but that should have been reason enough for Toronto to not include a pick or cash, let alone both. Itís worth noting that second-round picks can be sold for upwards of $2 million these days. The Grizzlies just kept reaching into Colangeloís wallet when he had his head turned.
Winners and Losers (excerpts for Raps purposes only).
Rudy Gay: Loser. Expectations are bound to be sky-high in basketball-mad Toronto and he wonít have much proven help in the short-term.
Rudy Gayís fantasy owners: Winners. It will be a shock if he doesnít wind up averaging 20+ points per game for the rest of his stay in Toronto.
Rudy Gayís All-Star prospects: Winner. He just might crack the 2014 All-Star Game if he gets his shooting numbers back on track and puts up a monster scoring figure in the weaker Eastern Conference. The frontcourt competition is significantly less in the East compared to the West.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey: Loser. Heís going to need to petition the league to allow his team to play with two basketballs at the same time on offense.
Andrea Bargnani: Loser. No particular reason this time, just generally speaking. Just kidding. The writing on the wall for his future in Toronto just gets bigger and bigger.
Kyle Lowry: Winner. He doesnít need to answer questions about whose job it is and he is on track to have all the leverage once heís a free agent in 2014.
Terrence Ross: Loser (?). The promising Raptors rookie has been averaging 17+ minutes per game this year. Can the Raptors still squeeze out meaningful minutes for him with Gay and DeRozan getting paid big dollars?