The Toronto Raptors have made the first big splash of the NBA season. On Wednesday night, they traded
long-standing point guard Jose Calderon
, power forward Ed Davis
, a second-round draft pick and cash to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for centre Hamed Haddadi
and small forward Rudy Gay
The Grizzlies then flipped Calderon to the Detroit Pistons for forwards Austin Daye
and Tayshaun Prince
The centerpiece of the deal is Rudy Gay. Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of the Raptors' move to acquire him.ProsUpgrade at small forward:
Gay immediately becomes the best small forward on the Raptors. With the ability to beat opponents off the dribble and operate in the post, he becomes one of the few Raptors who can create his own offence. At 6-foot-8, with fantastic length and elite athleticism, Gay will be able to match up on the defensive end with many players who have given headaches to the Raptors over the years. Considering Toronto's other options at the position -- Landry Fields, Alan Anderson and Mickael Pietrus -- Gay will be a breath of fresh air to Raptor fans.Buy low/sell high:
Calderon's contract expires at the end of the season, at which time the Raptors risked losing him for nothing. While his locker-room presence and unselfishness will be missed, trading him and utilizing his value was the right move. Davis can be viewed as the perfect "sell high" candidate. As a starter, he's averaging almost 13 points and 8 rebounds per game. His activity on both ends of the floor was a nice change of pace from the one-dimensional Andrea Bargnani. However, his lack of strength and offensive polish might limit him to a fringe starter or bench big man for the rest of his career. Considering the power forward position is deep with talent, the loss of Davis may not be devastating.
On the other side, Gay is having his worst year as a pro. His scoring (17.2 points per game) is at its lowest since his rookie year, despite the fact that he ranks near the top of the league in shot attempts. Gay is shooting abysmally. But he's clearly a "buy low" candidate as his numbers should even out to his career norm. Simply put, he shouldn't be this bad all year long.Defensive upgrade:
Jose Calderon has long been the weak link in the Raptors' defensive system. His porous perimeter defence allows constant penetration from opposing point guards. Calderon's departure could mean a defensive upgrade as Lowry now takes on the bulk of the minutes. Lowry's defense has also been questionable with his constant risk taking. But his instincts are far superior and the natural ability is there to be groomed. The burning question is whether Lowry's injury-prone body can hold up to the 35-plus minutes he could play each game.ConsRedundant skill sets:
Gay is an inefficient scorer and a volume shooter. While that's a negative by itself, it's magnified by the fact that the Raptors already have two players with those weaknesses, Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan. All three rely on being force-fed the ball constantly, and none are capable of consistently creating for others or working effectively off the ball. If a follow-up move isn't made, ridding the Raptors of this inefficient triumvirate, this trade could easily blow up in GM Bryan Colangelo's face.Cost and loss of player control:
The Raptors dealt a controllable and affordable asset for a short-term expensive risk. Ed Davis is under contract through the 2013-14 season, after which he becomes a restricted free agent, giving his team the right to match any offer made to him that off-season. Considering the market, he probably would have been offered a reasonable contract and remained a Raptor for a long time. Gay, on the other hand, is owed almost $18 million US in 2013-14 and more than $19 million in '14-'15. He's expensive short term and will command a sizable extension at the end of his contract.Aimless direction:
Again, what's the direction of this team? Landry Fields was signed to a three-year, $18- million contract to be the starting small forward, only to now be benched in favour of Gay. In a supposed rebuilding mode, Colangelo has now dealt a guaranteed lottery pick for Lowry (26 years old) and a former lottery pick in Davis for Gay (27 years old). Now the team must rely on Bargnani -- whether he garners a signficant return in a trade or manages to regain his form on the court. The likelihood of either scenario panning out is dim.
Final grade: C-
While Gay is the best small forward the Raptors have seen since Vince Carter, he's not going to take the team to another level. His low-efficiency scoring and ball-dominating game is duplicated throughout the roster.
This trade comes on the heels of a season-ending injury to Rajon Rondo, which greatly diminishes the Boston Celtics' chance at the playoffs. The potential vacant playoff spot may have spurred Colangelo to make a big splash with an impact player. Will the Raptors make the playoffs? Probably not. But follow-up trades could determine whether Gay is the right long-term fit for the Raptors.
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