RR Roundtable: Reactions to the Rudy Gay trade

The RR crew react to the Rudy Gay trade.

The Toronto Raptors traded Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

The deal sends Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray to Sacramento for Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes and John Salmons.

You can check out the initial reaction here, Zarar’s emergency podcast here and Tim Chisholm’s take here.

Of course, we’ve all got opinions, so the Raptors Republic crew assembled to give out quick(-ish) takes on the deal. Enjoy, and share your own in the comments.

Andrew Thompson
Dear Rudy,

This is awkward. First, I just want to say, you’re a great guy, and I care
about you a lot. But… Look, we both knew this was coming, right? It just
isn’t working. And this is the hardest part to say, but it’s not me; it’s
you. I thought that you could be something more. I saw the potential in
you and wanted so badly for you to be that stretch 4 who creates for
others instead of shooting through double teams. I tried, I really tried.
But you wouldn’t stop dribbling at waist height through traffic, you
wouldn’t stop launching bad long distance twos and you refused to use your
length and athleticism with any kind of consistency on defense or in
transition. I wanted so badly to believe that it was because you’ve been
inexplicably playing without contacts or goggles with diminishing eye
sight for the last few years. I mean, it was one of the most infuriatingly
stupid things I’ve ever heard, but I thought “it’s ok, maybe that means
that LASIK eye surgery can turn this all around.” That was stupid of me.
This is just who you are. It’s my fault for thinking I could change you. I
know that now. So I have to move on. Please don’t be mad, and don’t be
jealous of Greivis Vasquez or Patrick Peterson. I’m not doing this for
them. They aren’t my future. They’re simply the best I can get right now.
That’s what I have to accept, not what I want to accept. Because everyone
else knows exactly who you are too.And Salmons and Hayes, that’s just a
money thing (it’s complicated). This is about me needing to move on from
you. I need someone younger. I need someone who is more low maintenance,
contract wise. If you hear rumors about the terrible, scandalous things
I’m doing out on the court this year, please don’t think of me as a loser.
It’s just a phase I need to go through right now in order to find myself
(a lottery pick). I wish you the best Rudy. I hope you find someone who
loves and accepts you for who you are. God knows, if there is anywhere you
hilariously belong, it’s Sacramento. Good luck.

P.S. Please return my CDs and that book I lent you. I’ll get a friend to
pick them up. Thanks.

Blake Murphy
Masai Ujiri accomplished Step Two, perhaps Step 1B, on Sunday in dealing Rudy Gay to the Kings. Make what you will of the players coming back – more on this tomorrow, though none figure into long-term plans in a meaningful way – but this deal is far more about flexibility and development.

Gay’s absence creates further opportunities for the players left on the roster, specifically Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross. The offense should become more fluid and balanced, with the only potential detriment coming if DeMar DeRozan is unable to navigate increased defensive attention. Still, there are more shots and more touches available now, and that’s not insignificant for a young, rebuilding squad.

Even then, you could scrap that and call the deal a victory. I’ve been one of the only people who thought there was a possibility that Gay opted out of the final year of his deal, but the Raptors were right to absolve themselves of that risk when they could. With his value in the tank, perhaps it’s 75/25 Gay exercises the option – that means there was a 75 percent chance the Raptors would be on the hook for $19.3 million next year rather than the now-100 percent chance they’re on the hook for $7 million (Chuck Hayes at $6 million and John Salmons’ $1 million buyout). Those are big savings, and they’re savings that could help Ujiri reshape the roster.

Flexibility and cap space are transactional currencies that extend beyond attracting big-name free agents to Toronto. The Utah Jazz, for example, acquired a pair of first round picks from Golden State just to take on some bad salary (and keep your eyes on future picks – with the team unlikely to acquire another 2014 lottery pick, future firsts may be the currency of choice for Ujiri to lay the foundation for the franchise).

Whether this makes the team better or worse, this year or next, is irrelevant. Ideally, yes, the team gets worse and improves their lottery odds, but that’s just as likely to come from further moves as it is from removing Gay. More moves are almost surely on the way, and they’ll probably give the team a worse on-floor outlook.

As I’m sure everyone else will echo, Gay and Bargnani were the cracked pillars upon which this aimless franchise stood. They have been removed, which provides the opportunity to build a more stable foundation. But that building is going to take time, and it’s definitely going to take patience, and it’s not a sure thing.

It might be a long process, but based on early returns, the right man is at the helm.

Garrett Hinchey
I feel like most of my thoughts on the trade can be accurately summed up with this image, but I’ve been asked to elaborate, so here goes:

Plenty of my colleagues are stat guys, and I’m sure they’ll be able to tell you and I how this trade will impact the Raps on the court. For me, though, this move is all about the big picture. For the entire offseason (save the equally incredible Bargnani move) and the first couple months of the regular season, the Raptors as a franchise were stuck in a malaise. They were directionless, depressing to watch, and it seemed like everyone – players, coaches, fans – were waiting for the first domino to fall, and doing their best to endure until it did.

Well, endure no longer. The domino has fallen, and we’re finally off on the rebuild. For most fans, save the most delusional, this is a huge sigh of relief – an acknowledgement by management that the team built by the previous regime wasn’t going anywhere, and a step towards one that, hopefully, is.

Up until this point in the season, we kept telling ourselves that the Raptors could move in any direction – we could try and pick up another piece or two and work towards a playoff spot, or we could move all our assets and bottom out. With Rudy Gay’s albatross contract off the books, though, and replaced with solid – and tradeable – assets, that statement is actually true for the first time this season. In the short term, we’re better simply by subtraction (not to mention having two reliable point guards, and a couple more scorers on the bench). In the long term, we have real monetary flexibility for the first time in years. In one fell swoop, Masai Ujiri has taken a train that was flat on its sides and put it back on the tracks. We’re moving again. And that’s so, so much more exciting than whatever it was we were doing before.

No, we don’t have an All-Star. No, we might not be bad enough (right now) to join the race for top draft picks this season. But Brian Colangelo’s footprint on this team has been minimalized by December, and that’s cause for celebration.

In Masai we trust. Let’s see which domino falls next.

Sam Holako
This is clearly the 1st in a series of move, and I say Goddamn!, Ujiri is nothing if not a boss. I hated the trade the moment I heard about it (I’m an ardent Gay apologist; so short of landing a top-5 1st rounder, I wasn’t going to like anything), but the more I percolate on it, the more it becomes obvious that Ujiri is the best GM in the game.

Tim is right; this trade actually improves this team, but not because of the incoming talent, but because of their fit. However, you have to give Ujiri the benefit of the doubt, and assume that the guy who’s traded Bargnani and Gay for a first rounder, two second rounder’s, Steve Novak, Grevious Vasquez, Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson and the cost-effective corpses of Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, and John Salmons, has more tricks up his sleeves; heaven help the rest of the league, for reals!

Don’t be surprised to see trades for Amir, DeRozan, and Lowry; expect nothing short of immediate cap relief, serviceable players on friendly contracts, and pics in return. This is what having world class leadership/stewardship is about. It took a few minutes to realize, but… tears of happiness, man.

Tim W.
Let’s be clear, I’m thrilled I no longer have to watch Rudy Gay on a semi-nightly basis. While I’m happy Gay is gone, and I don’t think was a bad deal in the least, I’m not as over-the-moon about the trade as some are (cough**Zarar**cough).

Before you start throwing the pessimist tag at me once again, let me explain.

First of all, no one the Raptors are getting back are all that good. Greivis Vasquez is an average player, at best, and he’s the best player of the bunch by far. If Raptor fans hated Calderon’s defense, wait until they see Vasquez’s. But Vasquez isn’t as good offensively as Calderon. And he turns 28 in January, so he’s as good as he’s going to get.

There are some calling Patterson a prospect, but I think that’s being generous. He’s a poor rebounder who really doesn’t do anything well other than hit the mid-range jump shot.

Both Salmons and Hayes are useless players who were only included because the Raptors needed to take back salary.

What the Raptors failed to get back was a draft pick or a decent prospect, and that’s the main reason I’m not ecstatic about the deal. While it’s doubtful Gay alone would have gotten that much value back, packaging him with another decent asset (sorry Aaron and Quincy) might have maximized his value.

Of course, Ujiri didn’t get great value for Gay because he traded him when his value was at his lowest, and that’s something that has happened too often in Raptors history. It turns out the deal Joe Dumars apparently offered him, back in the summer, would have been better value because Stuckey has played so well this year and would have at least been a better trade asset than anyone they got from Sacramento.

It’s true the Raptors will have lots of cap room this summer, but to what end? The majority of teams in the league will have some form of cap room and who would the Raptors be able to sign?

Holding onto Gay longer might have increased his value, especially after December 15th when free agents signed over the summer are available to trade.

The team looked MUCH better without Gay (against the Lakers), but they’re still not very good and the consensus now seems to be that the Raptors are selling in preparation for the 2014 draft, so why make the trade now?

There are only two reasons I can think of. The first is that the market for Gay was so bad that he took the only offer he could get. The other, and the one I hope is the reason, is that Ujiri can still repackage the incoming players before the February 20th trade deadline (players can’t be repackaged in trades for two months after they are initially traded).

If I were to grade this deal for the Raptors, I’d give them a C+, but I’m definitely anxious to see what else is coming.

William Lou
Last year, when Bryan Colangelo made a naked and desperate attempt to save his job by trading for Rudy Gay, I had a tantrum of sorts. I paced back and forth in my house, cursing and ranting, much to the dismay of my bewildered roommates. I was angry at Colangelo for trading away a promising big-man and an all-time favorite, but more than anything, I was pissed that Colangelo saddled us with Rudy Gay, a man so maligned for his high-volume/low-efficiency production that he rivaled the likes of Monta Ellis and Dion Waiters. I was so upset that I boldly declared to the twittersphere:

And of course, after a month-long hiatus, I came crawling back for I loved the Raptors too much and myself too little. I still hissed at the television set whenever Gay shot the ball, but for the most part, I hoped for the best. Some part of me clung to the idea that with the right coaching and direction, this team of misfit toys could bring us a winning record come Christmas for once, which of course did not happen in large part because Gay was shooting more and worse than ever.

When you strip away all the bells and whistles, basketball, like many other sports, is a competition of which team can translate their possessions into more points. Throughout his career, despite being gifted with size, athleticism, awareness and ability, Rudy Gay has consistently turned a whole bunch of possessions into very few points, and therefore he’s not very valuable. Despite what everyone wants to believe, he doesn’t make his teammates better, he can’t run a decent offense and despite being a “high-impact player”, he merely affects the form of the team, rather than the bottom line. He is a relic of the past, the days of yore when points per game mattered more than points per possession, true-shooting percentage, or anything else for that matter. Despite his burgeoning salary figure, the Raptors gave up very little in this deal.

As for the players coming back, I’m glad that the Raptors got some salary relief. Although I’ve always maintained (and still do) that Gay will turn down his player option in favor of job security, the risk of Gay opting-in was a potential ax that dangled precariously over the flexibility of the roster.

Zarar Siddiqi
Acquiring Rudy Gay was a terrible decision, therefore getting rid of him can only be a good one. Rudy Gay’s deficiencies are well-documented and the man was a net-negative in every category so watching him depart is a net-positive (by a lot). The trade is nothing more than the deconstruction of the roster handed to Masai Ujiri by Bryan Colangelo. Two of the most frustrating players in Andrea Bargnani and Rudy Gay have been shipped out, and the Raptors can now at least boast of a leaner cap situation.

None of Salmons, Vasques, Patterson or Hayes appear to be long-term prospects, but all of them are decent role players (well, maybe not Salmons). Nothing to build a franchise around, but good enough to pepper across your roster to add some depth. Having said that, the question remains whether this is a move to tank or a move to improve. I can’t say this is a tank-move because this trade does improve the team (addition by subtraction, and such). At the same time, it obviously isn’t a blockbuster that pushes the team to the next level. What it is is a step, a step that sets up the Raptors by saving them money this summer – $12.4M to be precise. So if you evaluate this team from a flexibility and personnel perspective, you have to like it because:

– Got rid of a cancer before it metastasized
– Improved team depth for this season
– Freed up playing time for a first round draft pick (Terrence Ross)
– Upgraded the offense by getting rid of a one-on-one player, hopefully resulting in more team-ball and more touches for another draft pick (Valanciunas)
– Freed up cap space for the summer
– Got a chance to have a long look at Patterson and Vasquez as they’re RFAs next summer

It’s hard to argue with this one. Wonder if Ujiri is done? Is Lowry next now that his buddy is gone? Is DeRozan even in Ujiri’s plans (remember the Bledsoe rumours)? It’s all shaping up to be quite interesting.

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