Posted December 09, 2013

Trade Grades: Raptors dump Rudy Gay to Kings in seven-player deal

Aaron Gray, Ben Golliver, Chuck Hayes, Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson, Quincy Acy, Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors
(Ron Turenne/Getty Images)

Rudy Gay is averaging 19.4 points and 7.4 rebounds this season. (Ron Turenne/Getty Images)

The Raptors have reportedly agreed to trade Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy to the Kings in exchange for Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes. 

Here’s how the seven-player swap shakes out for both Toronto and Sacramento.

Toronto Raptors: Grade A

Outgoing: Gay (two years, $37.2 million), Gray ($2.7 million expiring contract), Acy (minimum salary expiring contract)

Incoming: Vasquez ($2.1 million expiring contract), Patterson ($3.1 million expiring contract), Salmons ($7.6 million this season plus $1 million guarantee for 2014-15), Hayes (two years, $11.7 million)

There is never a bad time to trade Rudy Gay.

That new Raptors GM Masai Ujiri opted to move his much-maligned small forward so early in the season suggests a few things. First, that Gay wasn’t giving Toronto the clear indication that he planned to opt out of a contract that pays him $17.9 million this season and includes a $19.3 million player option for next season. Second, that Ujiri rightly realized that the pairing of Gay and DeMar DeRozan was never going to work. Third, that Ujiri concluded that the offers weren’t going to get any better for Gay, even though this package lacks a marquee piece or worthwhile draft asset. Fourth, that the Raptors are more interested in developing and featuring some of their younger pieces — Jonas Valanciunas in particular — than they are in squeaking into the bottom half of the Eastern Conference’s weak playoff picture.

Some might latch on to that last point and assume that Toronto is rushing full speed ahead for the tank in hopes of landing Canadian Andrew Wiggins or one of the other 2014 draft studs. That could very well prove true, depending on what other deconstruction moves are to come, but reaching that conclusion based on this move would be giving too much credit to Gay.

The eight-year vet has posted a 15.9 Player Efficiency Rating (PER), he’s shooting a career-low 38.8 percent from the field, he’s jacking up a career-high 18.6 shots per game and he’s having no impact at all on Toronto’s defensive numbers (the Raptors have a 101.7 defensive rating when he’s on the court and 101.6 when he’s off the court). As if you could have possibly forgotten, he’s the 14th highest-paid player in the league. It just doesn’t hold logically that trading a player with Gay’s warts — shot selection, terrible shooting numbers, limited impact defensively, misguided disdain for box scores — is solely a move to “lose now” and stack ping pong balls. The Grizzlies went 29-15 (.659) before they traded Gay last season and 27-11 (.711) following the trade, and we shouldn’t assume that the Raptors — if they continue to pursue victories with their rotation decisions — are necessarily a worse team today than they were yesterday just because they parted with their biggest “name” player.

MAHONEY: Raptors clean-up financial mess while Kings accept risk with Rudy Gay

Moving Gay does ensure that Ujiri need not worry about Gay’s contract option decision next summer and it trades one large problem (Gay’s contract) into smaller, more manageable problems that are soon to be resolved. Salmons, a wing who hasn’t been productive since 2011, is a no-brainer buyout candidate. Patterson, a 2010 lottery pick who is now on his third team, will get a look at the power forward spot as Ujiri continues to juggle. Hayes, an undersized big man who was once a darling of the advanced stats community, is likely going to be salary cap flotsam, but passing off a mid-level range contract like his is significantly easier than finding bidders for Gay’s monstrosity.

The headlining piece is Vasquez, who was averaging 9.8 points and 5.3 assists as Sacramento’s starting point guard. Regularly outplayed by Isaiah Thomas, his back-up, Vasquez is nevertheless a quality rotation player and a stand-in option if Ujiri elects to auction off Kyle Lowry for his next trick. The fourth-year floor general is also a piece that could be flipped again prior to the February trade deadline if a contending team is looking to patch a hole.

This isn’t a “walk on water” move for Ujiri, but he was very smart to pull the trigger without delay. In doing so, he opened up $13 million of cap space and flexibility next summer if Gay picks up his option and all of the incoming pieces, save Hayes, are allowed to move on. Perhaps more important, he erased former executive Bryan Colangelo’s last disastrous act of desperation, thereby giving Raptors fans a little hope that he will spend a bit more wisely than his predecessor. That less than a year of Gay’s services cost the Raptors Ed Davis is lamentable, but such is the cost of bad management.

The bang-bang timing of Ujiri’s summer trade of Bargnani and Gay indicate that we should probably expect more fireworks between now and the deadline. That said, the Raptors have already been transformed from having one of the league’s worst dollar-per-win rosters at the end of last season to having meaningful flexibility next summer. Not bad for six months work.

Sacramento Kings: Grade D+

Outgoing: Vasquez ($2.1 million expiring contract), Patterson ($3.1 million expiring contract), Salmons ($7.6 million this season plus $1 million guarantee for 2014-15), Hayes (two years, $11.7 million)

Incoming: Gay (two years, $37.2 million), Gray ($2.7 million expiring contract), Acy (minimum salary expiring contract)

Trading for Gay at this juncture requires Sacramento bear the full risk of his remaining contract (this season plus next year’s $19.3 million option) and for that reason alone this was a deal worth passing up, or at the very least negotiating until more favorable terms developed.

The Kings have agreed to take on one of the league’s very worst contracts — ranking among those of Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Bargnani, Deron Williams, etc. — and their best-case scenario involves hoping that Gay decides to opt out for some reason.  If Gay did opt out, and the Kings decided not to pursue him, Sacramento would have succeeded in dumping Hayes’ $6 million 2014-15 salary and Salmons’ $1 million guarantee at a cost of less than $3 million (the difference between the total outgoing and incoming salaries at work here). That’s a cash-saving move worth doing for a team that’s not going anywhere this season.

There’s just no banking on Gay deciding to leave, though, and we must assume that the Kings traded for him because they actually sought out his services as an indisputable upgrade over the creaking Salmons.

Sacramento appears to be envisioning an “exciting on paper” starting lineup that includes Thomas, Ben McLemore, Gay, Derrick Williams (recently acquired from the Timberwolves) and DeMarcus Cousins. Ray McCallum, a 2013 second-round pick, likely steps into the reserve point guard minutes created by Vasquez’s departure, and some of the frontcourt depth crunch has been alleviated by the departure of Patterson and Hayes, with Jason Thompson and Carl Landry (who is currently injured) figuring heavily in the new construction.

The resulting roster leaves all sorts of questions. How many basketballs do the Kings starters plan on playing with at one time? (They will need three or four.) How does this group plan to be competitive on defense? Why does a non-playoff team feel motivated to increase its salary gridlock by adding on Gay’s money to a base that already includes long-term deals for Cousins, Landry and Thompson? Why should we expect another change of scenery to produce meaningful improvement in Gay’s output? Why part with Vasquez, the only player that returned in exchange for Tyreke Evans? Why not simply re-sign Evans at two-thirds of the price that Gay represents?

At least some of those questions don’t have good answers. The appearance is that Sacramento, under first-year GM Pete D’Alessandro, chased a name player in a “change for change’s sake” move following an underwhelming 5-13 start. If that is indeed the case, that decision will almost certainly carry negative repercussions throughout this season and next. Kings fans that patiently waited for a new era for the franchise were certainly hoping for something with a little bit more upside and logic than this.

16 comments
thefoxguy
thefoxguy

I have an issue with all of the contradicting assumptions made by critics overlooking this trade. Plastered over comment boards you hear- "Gay shot 38% for the raptors" as the primary diss on the Kings-as if the trend is ASSURED to continue on a new team. 


Let's apply that same assumption to the departing Kings- Vasquez: will continue to be inconsistent, unable to shoot from outside, Patterson: will continue to be inconsistent, scoring 15 one night only to go 1-9 the next, Hayes: barely played (inconsistent when he does-and i assume he'll continue to keep the bench warm), Salmons: terribly inconsistent. I understand that the ultimate goal with this trade was for the Raptors to open up cap space- but how can you argue that it was ALL win for them when they lost their best player (no contest it was Gay- whether he FIT best is another story...) and gained mediocrity. 


Also, do your hw (writer)... the reason the Kings moved quickly here is that we haven't had an external "big name" in town for years... the organization is in the hands of new ownership, management, and on the path to a new arena. 


The fans in Sacramento are dedicated to their team, despite years of total crap, on and off the court. Bringing in Gay is a win for publicity, and overall an indication that the team and organization is moving in the right direction - big names, regardless of how much they might've been offered, have habitually turned down Sacramento..with the state of the team now, they might have a reason to come. 


Any Kings fan who endured the Maloof era would part with Salmons and Hayes, an unproven Patterson and a middle-of-the-road Vasquez for a guy like Rudy Gay...in a second. 


Finally- addressing your last two paragraphs: you are incorrect- all of the questions you pose have answers. How do they plan to compete on defense? Take a look at Mike Malone, and how far he has come (through 18 games with the youngest team in the league). Then compare that to the 2012 edition of the Kings... 

Why do they feel motivated to add to their salary gridlock as a non-playoff bound team? - I'll admit they don't look playoff bound..but they are REBUILDING! As opposed to many of the other "rebuilding" teams around the league, the Kings actually have a decent starting rotation (now) that I would bet, by the end of the season, could run with most any team in the league. Their goal now is to solidify the bench.


Why should we expect Gay to improve with a change of scenery? Because it is vastly different scenery. It would be illogical to expect him not change at all (for better or worse). The Raptors now have virtually no "names" now-a core of Amir Johnson and Kyle Lowry... The Kings have the proven big man in Cousins, and an explosive PG in Thomas (both of whom are in the TOP 10 for Player Efficiency Rating RIGHT NOW) along with Mclemore and Williams who are both rapidly improving. I think he will change for better though- it isn't expected of him that he will be the centerpiece, which was obviously the expectation in Toronto. As an addition that can score, that can be authoritative, and that CAN rebound-I think we will see his numbers improve in Sacramento. And why part with Vasquez? Ladies and Gents, Isaiah Thomas. 


That's all. 



kingsfan
kingsfan

Honestly, I think Gay will play much more efficiently on the Kings than while in Toronto or his last year in Memphis. Cousins (19 reb last game) and Williams/Thompson can clean the boards pretty well so Gay doesn't have to worry about that anymore. Cousins can push it back out to BMac, Gay, IT, or even Williams at the three point line now creating huge spacing.
All the haters are going to be surprised in two weeks when Gay's shooting percentage is .450-.500 as a King and the Kings look on track to lose their lottery protected 2014 pick. Gay will do well in Sac, opt out of 19mil for a 5 year deal and will stay in Sac with this team that has huge potential moving forward. The best thing about Rudy is his humility; he is not "too good" for Sacramento. Mark my words!

Derek M
Derek M

I think the writer of this article is underestimating how to NBA players, Sacramento is probably one of the least desirable markets for them to play in.


Steve Moore
Steve Moore

Vasquez and Patterson are the 2 best players in this deal. Toronto wins.

drmadarang
drmadarang

it's funny how you guys judge a player because of the size of his contract. it's not his fault that Memphis gave him that amount of money. gay is a proven scorer and clutch player. he gives Sacramento a legit perimeter threat.

J Taylor
J Taylor

Sacramento's grade should be much higher.

I find it hard to imagine that Gay will stay in SacTown. As such, they essentially removed $17M in cap space, and cleared their roster of mediocrity. The new ownership is in swing.

Time will judge the pick, but I think it was a win/win and Sacramento will be much closer to a B grade.


Tony Porcheron
Tony Porcheron

great trade for jimmy fredette also, maybe he can get some playiing time

MikeSchultz
MikeSchultz

I like GAY since my SAC KINGS have NOT Had a SF that could play Worth a Damn since PEJA, plus it mean they have more Faith in McClemore an D-WILLIAMS.

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

The Raptors managed to find suckers to trade for Gay and Bargnani.  Both players were bad at any price and yet had huge contracts.

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

@drmadarang

ANybody in the NBA can score if the keep taking shots


Gay is shooting 39%!  Compare with lebron shooting 59%.

Lebron scores 3 times for every 2 Gay does when they take the same number of shots...

TDotRap4lyfe
TDotRap4lyfe

@J Taylor If you think Gay, a player, playing his worst year in the NBA, will give up arguably his biggest potential paycheck at 19.3 million next year, you must be insane.

malgus
malgus

@SukeMadiq Ujiri has my vote for executive of the year just for dumping those guys

thefoxguy
thefoxguy

@TheCantankerousNut @thefoxguy Kings were set to pay the crap they sent over a collective 18.6 mil this season, and another 5.85 for CHUCK HAYES next year, who plays like 45 seconds a game. 


I really only see it as them picking up an 12 million, 1 year contract..only 5 more than they paid Salmons for the last 3 years...


And you missed the point that the Kings could care less about paying a guy like that, in exchange for the tickets he'll help sell, the optimism it has the potential to create among the fanbase- it creates the perception that the organization is TRYING. And it isn't like he's locked in for the next four or five years at 17/yr... 


It's not so much an attempt at optimism as it is an attempt to debunk some of the statements in this article, as well as the common opinion among viewers that the Kings were at fault with this move. 

Aaron14
Aaron14

@SukeMadiq @drmadarang Lebron is off the charts, you can unfavorably compare most any numbers to his. 


Lebron is also bigger & stronger (and quicker probably too) and finishes closer to the basket much more often than Gay.   Gay is a still a more reliable shooter but thats about it.

TDotRap4lyfe
TDotRap4lyfe

@thefoxguy @TheCantankerousNut They gave up roughly 18.5 million dollars in salary this year for 4 players to get 21.5 million in salaries for 3 players. 3 of the 4 will either be traded, bought out, or expire giving them over 12 million in cap space. While Gay makes 19.3 million next year, and they will need to sign players since they will be short a few players.