Rudy Gay was drafted eighth overall in 2006. (Getty Images)It’s been less than a day since Brian Burke was fired as the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager in what many believe was partially because of his unwillingness to execute a trade that would bring Roberto Luongo to Toronto.
And now Burke’s basketball counterpart, Bryan Colangelo, may be facing a similar conundrum. Memphis Grizzlies small forward Rudy Gay is once again being linked to the Raptors in trade rumours and whether this deal is eventually accomplished may come down to whether or not Colangelo is willing to take on Gay’s big contract. He’s owed close to $16.5 million this season and more than $37 million combined in the two seasons following. Colangelo would also potentially need trade away a piece of the Raptors' future in Ed Davis.
Now it’s never fair to compare trades in different sports but it is a little bit ironic that one of the biggest knocks in the Leafs trading for Luongo is his longterm, big money contract and with Gay it’s his short term, but still very expensive contract.
Not to say that if Colangelo doesn’t execute a deal for Gay that he’ll be relieved of his duties, but whether he chooses to acquire him or not could prove to be the difference between the Raptors making or missing the playoffs. And with Colangelo in the final year of his contract, should the Raptors miss the postseason you can bet he likely won’t return as GM. So yes this trade – only a rumour right now – could prove to be a career altering decision for Colangelo.
But is Gay the right fit for the Raptors?
In a lot of ways he’s comparable to the Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan. Looking at both players stat lines, Gay is averaging 17.8 points per game, 5.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists while DeRozan is averaging 18.1 points per game 4.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Neither are known as proficient shooters – Gay is shooting a career 45.3 per cent from the field and DeRozan is shooting a career 45.5 per cent – or great defenders. Albeit Gay would be pushed to improve on the defensive side of the ball under Dwane Casey.
So looking at those numbers it’s hard to see how DeRozan and Gay would compliment each other. If anything Gay’s career numbers and salary make DeRozan’s new four-year $38 million deal that he signed at the beginning of this season seem like a bargain.
As mentioned earlier, Ed Davis’ name has been thrown around as a player who the Grizzles could pursue, along with Jose Calderon, in exchange for Gay. But how would Raptors fans react to trading away the 23-year-old forward who has been one of the most positive storylines coming out of the organization this season. Since Andrea Bargnani went down with an injury Davis has been consistently logging starting minutes and his numbers have skyrocketed. The recent impressive play from Amir Johnson gives the Raptors some wiggle room in their frontcourt, but trading Davis means the Raptors would have to rely more heavily on Aaron Gary and Jonas Valanciunas who has yet to fully adapt to the NBA game.
So yes, at first glance the Raptors acquiring a big-name scorer like Gay seems like a no brainer, but his salary, mixed in with who the Raptors would have to give up in a trade and how he meshes with a player like DeRozan makes you think twice about acquiring him. It might just be worth it for the Raptors to continue on with the core of players they have rather than shake up their roster at this point.