The consensus amongst most Toronto Raptors fans is that Rudy Gay, acquired in a three-team trade back in January, has the potential to be the face of the franchise for a long, long time.
Sure, things haven’t been pretty 100% of the time since his arrival, but when has that ever been the case for Toronto?
The Raptors are now 8-8 since Gay debuted back on February 1st in a 98-73 home win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Hovering around the .500 mark is a huge improvement over where the team was to start the year. Progress is a slow process, but things are certainly looking up at least.
Ed Davis, who was dealt to the Memphis Grizzlies in the Rudy Gay deal, has failed to make an impact in his new surroundings, averaging 4.9 points and 3.2 rebounds in just over 13 minutes a game. Guard Jose Calderon, who was sent to the Detroit Pistons, is putting up just slightly better numbers than he was with his former team, averaging 11.6 points (up from 11.1) and 7.6 assists (up from 7.4) in four more minutes per game.
It’s safe to say that the Raptors made off like bandits with this deal. GM Bryan Colangelo made a wise personnel decision at a perfect time, trading a guy like Davis when his value was at an all-time high. Losing a beloved backup point guard in Calderon hurt the teams immediate depth at the position, but sometimes in life, you have to give a little to get a little.
Rudy Gay is locked up for next season at $17.9 million. He has a player option (at $19.3 million) for the season after that.
According to a report by Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, the team is fully prepared to offer Gay an extension this summer, in order to avoid the possibility of losing him next summer.
The struggling Raptors appear to believe in Gay. General manager Bryan Colangelo already views him as the face of the franchise, and a source said he will likely offer a contract extension in the offseason. Toronto is in need of star power since the departure of Chris Bosh and the demise of Andrea Bargnani, the former No. 1 draft pick. Attempts will be made to move Bargnani this summer for a proven scoring post player, sources said.
“I needed a change,” Gay said of the trade. “I needed a new situation. A new task. I needed a new task with something I could grasp, something I could take over. I need to be challenged. I was challenged in Memphis, but it was tug of war at times. Here I’m being challenged and they’re seeing what I’m made of.”
Through his first 16 games as a Raptor, Rudy is averaging 19.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.4 steals. The big downside is that his shooting is still extremely inconsistent (38% from the field and 23% from three-point range). If those numbers hold up for the rest of the season, he will be the only player in the NBA to average more than 19 points, while shooting less than 40%.
That’s the way Gay has been over the past three seasons. He will give you a lot of points, but they won’t necessarily be efficient points.
Looking past the deficiencies of his game for just a moment, it’s hard to deny the impact Rudy has had on this roster since coming aboard.
He’s already had two game-winners, including one in overtime against the Indiana Pacers back in February. Gay is a closer, and lord knows how desperate this team has been to find someone who can hit those types of shots on a regular basis. With all due respect to DeMar DeRozan, he hasn’t earned a reputation yet for being someone who can consistently hit those big shots, although that’s slowly starting to change. I also tend to believe that Gay deserves at least some of the credit for the emergence of DeRozan this past month. He’s taken a significant amount of pressure off of his shoulders on the offensive end, allowing the game to gradually come to him, rather than forcing the issue because of the lack of options surrounding him.
From a fans standpoint, just knowing that Gay is a Toronto Raptor offers hope that they can win any game that they are in. That’s invaluable. Even against some of the more elite teams in the NBA, you feel that the Raptors stand a chance when Rudy is on the court.
Will Colangelo have to overpay for Rudy Gay? Probably. This franchise has a long and storied history of having to overpay players to stay long-term.
Rudy has his shortcomings, but the pros outweigh the cons, in my opinion. 16 games isn’t a heck of a lot of time to judge someone anyways, but for the most part, I like what I’m seeing.
Don’t wait. Commit to Rudy Gay. Make it happen.
What do you think? Should the Toronto Raptors offer Gay an extension this summer? Would he be worth the investment? Is he someone you believe they can build their team around? Leave a comment below, and join the discussion.