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Why Rudy Gay Is A Great Fit In Toronto

I’m baffled why Raptors fans aren’t ecstatic about Rudy Gay landing in Toronto.

Bryan Colangelo made one of his bolder moves when he traded a player on an expiring contract and another player who was playing at his peak. Instead of getting burnt like they did when Donyell Marshall bolted town without getting anything in return, Colangelo was able to get a fringe all-star while giving up very little in return.

Ed Davis has played solid basketball this season, but is there any reason to believe he will become a top ten power forward in the NBA? No, there isn’t. So this becomes a classic case of Colangelo selling high on a young player and getting an elite small forward – something that has been a need on this team since Vince Carter left town nearly a decade ago.

Sure, Toronto will be stuck paying Gay’s massive salary, but why should fans care? It’s not like they are paying his salary or dealing with any possible luxury tax issue. All they need to do is sit back and enjoy the great addition to the team.

Some fans are skeptical of what a player shooting 40.8% from the floor this season can contribute. Personally, I think Gay’s struggles are tied directly to Memphis running their offence out of the post. With two beasts in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, the Grizzlies have made sure their bigs have gotten to touch the ball on most possessions and it has resulted in Gay shooting a career-low from the field.

The only other time Gay has shot less than 45% from the field was his rookie season, so it stands to reason that by getting more consistent touches and having plays run for him he should be able to get back on track.

The big stat for me is the way Gay played last March with Randolph sidelined with his knee injury. He was given the chance to be the focal point of the offence and responded by averaging 20.3 points while shooting 45% from the field. Throw in his 6.9 boards and 1.7 steals and it’s clear he was engaged and playing at a near all-star level.

Even with Gay’s shooting woes this season he is still averaging 17.2 points per game and has averaged 19 points or more every season in the NBA besides his rookie year. Clearly the guy knows how to score and can hit clutch baskets. All Raptors fans need to do is flash back to the game last season when he ripped the heart out of fans at the Air Canada Centre with his dagger.

Oh, and he also hit a dagger in the grill of LeBron James.

What makes this deal interesting is how Toronto’s roster now looks. Kyle Lowry is reunited with one of his good friends in Gay, while the team has some gritty front court players in Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson. Once Valanciunas returns from his injury the team will have a nice, active tandem with Valanciunas and Johnson in the starting five. Throw in the scoring spark from in the starting five from Gay and Lowry with Terrence Ross and Alan Anderson coming of the bench, and the team looks to have a interesting core moving forward.

This deal is also interesting because the team is thin at point guard and the front court and has a glut of wing players so naturally last night Colangelo hinted that more moves were in the works. While people naturally assumed the player on the way out is Andrea Bargnani, I think the player who could be on the move is DeMar DeRozan. Having Gay in the mix is an upgrade over DeRozan across the board and the duo would make nearly $30 million next year. Having two players with similar skill sets – and neither being a strong defender – would be lethal to the team moving forward.

Look for Colangelo to remedy this by rolling the dice and trying to flip DeRozan for some roster depth while adding a player who is known as being a gritty defender.

Ryan McNeill
Ryan McNeill has appeared on ESPN Radio, MTV Canada, SiriusXM, The Fan 590 and other radio programs and TV shows. He has covered the NBA with media credentials since the 2007-08 season.
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  • Adam

    I like it for the Raptors also and I understand why Memphis did this for the $/business side of things but basketball whose I think Memphis is making a mistake. They are a team that can win a few series in the playoffs and if lucky get to the finals within a few years with the team how it was constructed. If they aren’t careful they aren’t going to be a playoff team in the future and will lose a lot of revenue because they won’t fill their forum during the season nor in the playoffs

  • John

    Sure, anytime you can add $36 million to your payroll for a player who was 3rd best on his previous team, shooting career worst percentages, and basically a slightly taller version of DeRozan, you have to do it. Enjoy competing for 8th place in the East, getting middling draft picks, while having zero cap flexibility, Toronto.
    Just a terrible deal for the Raptors pulled off by a G.M. pissing all over the long-term well-being of the franchise to save his job in short run.