In wake of the Rudy Gay Deal, how does that impact "the plan" moving forward?
The deal is being met with mixed reactions. Media is mostly giving the Raps a low grade for the move since the financial burden of Gay might prevent them from any other meaningful moves. Fans seem split with most likely falling on the in favor side. Many have long coveted a player like Gay (or specifically Gay for some), so they seem this as a turning point. Both sides are correct on that one point, this move will change the fortune of this franchise over the next 10 years, one way or the other.
Looking at this deal from a basketball sense…This deal accomplishes one clear goal, it gives the Raptors more talent, something they have desperately been lacking. But like Utah's bloated front-court, the Raps now seem to have a lot of over-lap and redundancy on their roster. Demar Derozan - great athletic slasher who can get to the line. Not a great shooter and is still improving defensively. Rudy Gay - great athletic slasher who can get to the line. Not a great shooter and is an average defender on the wing. While it seems a nice thought to have your two starting wingers be interchangable, that really only works when they both have well rounded games. When neither of your wing players is a floor spacer (good 3 point shooter), you need to get your balance from elsewhere. Factor in that starting Point Guard Kyle Lowry is as much of a slasher as either of the wingers, and you have 3 starters who all want to try and do the same thing. That leaves your front court as floor spacers….If Andrea Bargnani can return to form and provide some shooting, it may work. If the team can somehow still incorporate promising young winger Terrence Ross (the best shooter of their stable of wings), then perhaps they can make it work. Perhaps turning Gay into a small ball 4 with Ross at the 3 would work in the East. Perhaps….
My biggest concern, in a basketball sense, is how this will impact the development of Terrence Ross? Ross has shown good progress this season. He defends well (for a rookie) and has a good shot to go with his athletic drives. While he lacks the explosive athleticism that Demar and Gay have, he makes up for it by having a better refined game in many aspects (shooting and defending primarily). Ross could very well end up being the player that best suits the starting spot. Should the Raptors move Demar to a 6th man role? It might make the most sense in terms of balancing skill sets, but I very much doubt that they would. Demar is about to be paid like a starting talent, moving him to the bench months after giving him a large contract extension seems extremely unlikely.
Ideal line-Up Combo
Bench (in order of appearance)
Likely Line-Up Combo
Line-Up Consideration? - Gay is only 5 lbs lighter than Thaddeus Young. Raps to play ultimate small ball? Not Casey's prefered style, but as a coach, you have to adapt the strategy to fit the players you have.
C: Val (need someone to rebound but can still keep up with the pace) - Amir in the interim until JV is healthy.
Moving forward, the Raptors need a new PF, a new back-up PG and more shooting. Moving Bargnani is still something fans want, but with the plethora of non-shooting wings on this roster (Demar, Gay, Fields) and shoot first, questions later point guards like Lowry and Lucas, Bargnani's spacing might be a necessary evil to open up those driving lanes. Upgrading Lucas to a more traditional PG who can shoot well would go a long way, but moves going forward will be difficult because…
Looking at this deal from a franchise/financial sense…The Raptors are capped. Which isn't always a bad thing when your owners have deep pockets, but we aren't Los Angeles or New York. We have now moved two of our best tradable assets (Jose's expiring deal and Ed Davis' productivity on a rookie deal) for 1 player, who may or may not help us on the court at the end of the day. No prospects or picks came in in moving the team's best tradable asset (tradable is the caveat, since we don't want to part with JV who is our best asset). This also begs the question, what was Ed Davis' value on the trade market on his own? For Memphis, he seemed to be the player they wanted (since they needed to find a partner to trade Jose), so if not attached to Jose, would Ed Davis have brought in a package worth considering on its own merit? It also seems to demonstrate the market for Jose. The only teams that wanted him teams looking to dump salary. Would Toronto have accepted a deal of Jose for Prince, Daye and a first round pick? Detroit obviously is trying to clear it's books, but would they have parted with a 1st rounder for a player that MAY be able to push them into the 8th seed now that Boston seems sunk? Is a mid-level pick (14-17 range) worth the financial burden of Tayshaun Prince's deal? Would Prince have been a better fit than Gay on the court?
Gay's deal pays him between $16-$19 million per over the next 3 years. Add in the deals of Fields ($6M), Demar ($9.5M) and Ross ($2.5M), you now have $35 million commited to the wing position. Three of the four are league wide considered over-paid and are potentially untradable. Ross is the only one who could be conceivably moved, but he's also the only one who can shoot the three consistently and could wind up being the best player of the bunch.
Moving Bargnani now seems much more difficult. Without Jose's expiring deal, or Davis' production/potential (or any pick), there isn't a lot the Raptors can package with Bargnani. The potential suitors for Bargnani also shrunk now (no more LA - Gasol talk for one). Perhaps the best move is still Emeka Okafor and a first rounder from Washington, but I would be surprised if the Raps can get that at this point. Bargnani needs to return to the line-up (which will happen) and be productive (which may or may not happen).
Perhaps the biggest question out of all this is how does Casey manage this? The team seemed to be moving in the direction of building a defence first, ground it out team (like Memphis) but the pieces seem better suited for a small ball up-tempo team (like Philly). Is Colangelo moving in both directions at once? Does Colangelo have a plan? Does it involve trading Bargnani asap?
I think we need to amnesty Kleiza and likely trade Anderson at the deadline. Anderson could bring us a quality return and is really the 4th option on the wing now (Ross deserves more minutes to develop). Bringing in another PG or big seems obvious, but the choices are limited. Maybe OKC would give us Maynor for Anderson and Lucas?
In the end, I am still undecided on how this deal will work out. I like Davis, but moving him was likely to happen eventually anyway and if it helps us get a better player, then I'm fine with it. If Casey can find a way to take full advantage of this roster, then perhaps it improves the Raptors long-term. But if Colangelo has added another contract that is untradable, I worry that we are running out of tradable assets. We still do not have a first round pick, despite trading two starters - one on an expiring deal and the other on a rookie deal - typically the best returns. I don't think we can fairly grade the trade until we see what move is next. If no move is next, then I'm likely agreeing with the C- mark giving by both ESPN and CnnSI.
But one thing is clear. Rudy Gay is more talented than the players the Raptors had on their team yesterday. Perhaps that is the only thing that should matter in the end.