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.
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.
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.”
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.