What Would Einstein Say About the Raptors Trading for Rudy Gay?

Posted on January 31, 2013 | 11 Comments

At around the same time I found out about the Raptors acquiring Rudy Gay, my oldest daughter ran to me in tears after discovering one of her guinea pigs had expired sometime while she was at school. It was sad in a very ironic way. Let me say, though, that one of the hardest things to do as a parent is to tell your kids their beloved pet has died (I had to break the news to the younger one). It’s heart wrenching.

On the bright side, the sadness is temporary. It’s not long before the smile is back on your kids’ faces and think back fondly of it. And the timing was a little odd because we’re in the midst of adopting a puppy from our local pound (a far more daunting process than one would think). So when the puppy walks through the door, all recent events will be forgotten.

The Rudy Gay trade, for the Raptors, is not like losing a pet. It’s not life or death. It’s just basketball.

Unfortunately, however, it’s also not something that can be forgotten quickly. This is something that has the possibility of effecting the team for the near future, if not for longer.

I was actually about to post the next part of my series talking about Bryan Colangelo’s major flaws as a General Manager, culminating in what was going to be my call for him to be replaced (seriously, I was), but then he goes out and gives perfect examples of all three of his major flaws in one move.

The Raptors trade Jose Calderon, Ed Davis and what is apparently a pick for Rudy Gay and Hamed Haddadi.

To the average fan, and possibly on the surface, that looks like a good deal for the Raptors. Davis is a good, young power forward, but will probably never make an All Star team. Calderon is 31 years old, in the last year of his contract and there are questions about whether he will re-sign with the Raptors this summer. I’ll talk about them in another post.

Rudy Gay is an exciting, athletic small forward (a position the Raptors have been weak at since Vince Carter left town) who can score from inside and out. Plus he’s been know to hit big shots, on occasion, including one against the Raptors last year…

Unfortunately, basketball isn’t played on the surface. On the surface, the Lakers are unbeatable.

The thing about Gay is that while he’s a young, athletic player, he brings a lot of the same flaws that Colangelo’s Raptors have had since the beginning of his tenure. He can score, but he’s not efficient at it. He’s athletic and has good size for the small forward position, but he’s not a good rebounder or defender. Sound familiar?

And he’s got one of the worst contracts in the NBA, making over $53 million over the next three years.

The thing about trading for Gay, though, is that it looks good on paper. He’s a well known player and he’s exciting to watch. Get ready for Colangelo’s sales pitch. He’ll talk about athleticism, scoring ability, filling a position of need and the fact that Gay has been someone Colangelo has liked since the 2006 draft, when he too Andrea Bargnani instead of Gay.

Segue…

What’s probably most troubling about this deal is not necessarily the acquisition of Gay, but what it means for the Raptors. With Ed Davis gone, it opens up the starting power forward slot. Obviously, Amir Johnson is more than capable of filling it, but does anyone think that he’s the guy Colangelo wants to see there? When Bargnani returns from injury, if Davis is still with the team, not only does he come off the bench, but there is a real question of how many minutes would be available for him.

The trade opens up Bargnani’s return to the starting lineup. And changes the fortunes of the Raptors.

And there was this quote from Chris Ford

“Bryan Colangelo has loved Gay since his college days. He was seriously torn between Gay and Bargnani on draft night. I think he feels like if he unites them, the Raptors instantly get better.”

RealGM

If you’ve been following the team for, say, at least the last six and a half year, then that quote has to fill you with some dread.

IF Colangelo’s plan was to have a trio of Rudy Gay, Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan as the teams leading scorers, then he’s a worse judge of talent and team builder than I thought. All three can score, there’s no doubt about it. But all three are inefficient scorers who can disappear for long stretches at a time. On top of that, they’re all below average rebounders, especially for their size and athleticism. And not one of them are going to impress anyone with their defense. Basically, they’re one dimensional players who aren’t all that good at their one dimension.

Then you add Kyle Lowry, who has a bit of a checkered history, hasn’t shown himself to be the best decision maker, and has been known to play with blinders on at times. And Jonas Valanciunas who, despite being a rookie with a lot of learning to do, is going to be given the responsibility of taking up the slack on the boards and on defense. That’s a hell of a lot of pressure to put on a guy who should be developed slowly.

But this is a starting lineup Colangelo can sell to the owners and the average fan. And as I discussed before, Colangelo is an expert salesman. He’s done it before…

This isn’t the first time Colangelo has exhibited poor team building skills and tried to sell it as the second coming.

After the Raptors won a franchise best-tying 47 games in Colangelo’s first year as GM, he went out and overspent on Jason Kapono. Kapono was coming off a career year and a big playoff run. One of the big problems, though, was he was really the last thing the Raptors needed. A three point shooter with questionable defensive skills. See, the Raptors were already a good three point shooting. Where they had trouble was on the defensive end. So how does it make sense for the big acquisition of the summer to be a good three point shooter and poor defender?

Not surprisingly, Kapono was a dud and eventually Colangelo made another big move, trading for Jermaine O’Neal. This was a big gamble, but one that, like the Kapono move, was bound to backfire. O’Neal was a 30 year old, ball stopping, jumpshooting big man who couldn’t stay healthy and whose best years were already behind him.

Fast forward to the Hedo Turkoglu signing, and I think you’re probably getting the picture. Adding a below average, inefficient scoring small forward who made little impact on the boards to a team with Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon was a recipe for disaster from the start.

So it’s not as if this is the first time Colangelo has made a big acquisition that made absolutely no sense from a team perspective.

This is a pattern with Colangelo. And it’s not a good one. And the big problem is that it’s probably a move that will save Colangelo’s job. At least for the time being. And for that reason, I’m seriously questioning whether it’s worth following this team while Colangelo is in charge. Because no good will come of it.

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Comments

  • http://twitter.com/PhilMacDonald Phil MacDonald

    Disagree as I think BC tries to make the right move at all times. This is another example. BC is one of the best in the league and we are still lucky to have him. Remember the other GM’s we had?

  • M

    Then go find Rob Babcock and follow whatever team he’s on. Terrible article. Absolutely agree with the previous comment. We’re lucky this guy is in our organization. Now that ownership is willing to spend, things will get a lot better. Rob Babcock? You think we were better off with Mike James as our franchise player? Traded Vince carter for…drum role…some guy named Williams and Alonzo mourning. How about when agrunwald signed a 50 year old Hakeem. You don’t know basketball. Don’t write about it.

  • Rod

    “Disagree as I think BC tries to make the right move at all times.”
    He is paid to make the right move. And yet, he has made exactly the wrong move many times.

    “BC is one of the best in the league and we are still lucky to have him.”
    He is one of the worst, and he is ruining the franchise. What exactly does he bring that we are so lucky to have?

    “Remember the other GM’s we had?”
    Not a perfect bunch to be sure, but also a solid group. Remember the one who drafted Stoudemire, Camby, McGrady. Or the one who drafted Carter & Bosh. Or the one that snagged BC a #1 overall pick before his departure and Jose Calderon – a mainstay of the Raptors until last night, who BC incessantly tried to replace (unsuccessfully, at great cost)?

  • BP

    Agree with everything you said.

    To me, the move makes no sense. I’ve said it before. The Raptors possibly have the 3 most over rated, overpaid, and under achieving starting lineup in league history, assuming Bargnani sticks around.

    If anything, it would probably make more sense to start Fields at SG, and have DeRozan come off the bench. But, that obviously won’t happen.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

    JUst because the Raptors have had a history of mediocre to poor GMs doesn’t automatically make Colangelo a good one. And whether or not he TRIES to make the right move doesn’t matter if he consistently makes poor decisions. If the Raptors miss the playoffs this year, it will be the longest stretch in Raptor history without making the playoffs. Hard to argue he’s done a good job just based on that. Add in Bargnani, Bosh, Kapono, O’Neal, Turkoglu, and now Gay, and that’s not a very strong argument to keep his job.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

    Why bring up Babcock? Because he did a worse job? Should Americans have been happy with George W. Bush because he wasn’t a Hitler or Stalin? Babcock was a horrible GM. Colangelo was better than him, but I’d love to hear your case that he has done even a decent job.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

    It’s the perfect Colangelo move, unfortunately. Quite frankly, I’d love to know where that Raptors analytics guy (can’t remember his name) is in all of this.

  • Joey

    “I’m seriously question whether it’s worth following this team while Colangelo is in charge.”

    Just remember, once BC is dismissed and you start following the team again, you’ll earn the label of fairweatherfan/bandwagoner.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

    I’ve stuck with the team for 17 years, of which there has been very little “fair weather”. You want to call me a bandwagon jumper, go right ahead. The alternative is far less palatable.

  • Stephen Waugh

    Ownership paid top dollar for Brian Burke. They probably also paid top dollar for Ron Wilson when he was hired. The problem was Brian Burke was too egotistical to keep his mouth shut and take a step back and assess his team, where it was headed, and what needed to be done. Sound familiar? He was also so loyal to Ron Wilson to the point where he altered his plan to build a tough, gritty team for a run-and-gun (sound familiar also?). Not only did Ron Wilson’s style leave his teams to be exploited defensively and morally for four years, he himself was a terrible player manager, especially with young ones like Luke Schenn and Nazem Kadri whom he threw under the bus in front of the media. Don’t confuse willingness to spend money with foolish spending, Just sayin!

  • Stephen Waugh

    Having replied to M, maybe you do research and write an article about why Bryan Colangelo was the wrong choice to be general manager of the Toronto Raptors AT THE TIME.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/806138-most-overrated-geniuses-in-sports/page/7

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