The Toronto Raptors are rumored to be kicking the tires of a potential deal that would bring Rudy Gay to Canada.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Memphis Grizzlies are shopping Gay and the Raptors have significant interest. Toronto approached the Grizzlies about a potential deal for the small forward during the NBA Draft last June and apparently the interest remains high in attempting to acquire the swingman.
Gay would instantly become the team’s best perimeter player since the departure of Vince Carter and would be its most talented player since Chris Bosh took his talents to South Beach. It’s obvious why the Raptors would have interest in acquiring Gay, however it remains unclear if Toronto has enough to entice Memphis into a deal.
According to the ESPN report, the Raptors are believed to working on a package that involves Jose Calderon, Ed Davis and draft considerations. Gay is owed $37.2 million after this season and the biggest reason the Grizzlies are looking to move him is to get under the luxury tax to avoid paying penalties in future seasons. Acquiring Calderon’s $10.6 million expiring contract would certainly help reduce costs but from a talent for talent standpoint, Toronto is limited in what they can offer.
Davis would be a quality piece to plug behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph but he isn’t even close to enough in matching value for Gay. Unfortunately for Raptors fans, the Grizzlies have no interest in Andrea Bargnani given his contract and the fact the Grizzlies already have two far superior front court players.
However, shedding Gay’s contract while acquiring pieces for the future might be attractive enough for Memphis since any deal involving the team’s leading scorer will be about money and not a basketball trade. Perhaps a package that includes Calderon, Davis and Terrence Ross along with draft picks would be enough, it’s unlikely but it would save the Grizzlies millions of dollars.
Would the Raptors try to move DeMar DeRozan in a deal for Gay with the way Ross has played to begin his career at shooting guard? DeRozan and Ross are both shooting guards and although they’ve played together at times, for defensive purposes the two are at their best playing as guards than one of the two trying to play small forward. The Raptors could package Calderon, Davis, draft picks and DeRozan to send to Memphis which would leave them with a starting five of Gay, Ross, Bargnani, Jonas Valancuinas and Kyle Lowry. Toronto would still have Amir Johnson, Landry Fields, John Lucas, and Alan Anderson off the bench, meaning the team would keep some of its depth.
Another reason why Memphis might be interested in DeRozan is he’d provide the Grizzlies with a lot of similar characteristics Gay does but with a cheaper contract. The Raptors guard is an excellent rebounder and attacks the rim getting free throw opportunities much like the Memphis swingman. DeRozan isn’t as good of a shooter or playmaker as Gay but the drop off of losing an all-star wouldn’t be as severe for the Grizzlies with the addition of Toronto’s leading scorer. DeRozan could fit in nicely as Memphis’ third option on offense behind the team’s two frontcourt players while Calderon has shown in the Olympics he already has chemistry with fellow Spanish player, Gasol. The other factor for Memphis would be by shipping Gay to Canada they’d never have to worry about him coming back to haunt them in future seasons. Something the team would have to worry about if they sent him to the Phoenix Suns, who are also rumored to be interested in the player.
The Raptors have a major trade piece with Calderon’s expiring contract along with interesting trade chips that can be thrown in to round out the package. Gay would instantly solve the revolving door at the small forward position that has existed ever since Jorge Garbajosa went down with a horrific injury. Whether or not they have enough to persuade Memphis into a deal will remain to be seen.