Rudy Gay is a very talented player, but the Toronto Raptors are looking for something they won't find in the 26-year-old. That said, the team is reportedly interested in acquiring the Memphis Grizzlies swingman, per ESPN.
It is easy to look at numbers and be made to believe that because Gay has averaged 17.9 points per game in his career, he's an elite scorer. He's obviously athletic, he has a great frame and one of the smoothest looking jump shots in the NBA, but Gay is not a No. 1 option.
He's not the type of player that takes over games. To put it bluntly, he's not a star.
The Raptors need a player whose presence changes the entire dynamics of their team. They already have unique talents on their roster that are missing the "it" factor.
Look no further than the gifted DeMar DeRozan and the oft-injured, but incredibly skilled and soft Andrea Bargnani. Both men were lottery picks—Bargnani was the top pick overall in 2006—but neither man has established themselves as a true leader.
As talented as Gay is, he's better suited as a second option on a really strong team. He has always been more of a complementary player than a lead guy, yet his salary would suggest that he's a go-to man.
The lack of stars and leaders would make Gay take a role he isn't suited for by default.
Think about it, if Gay were worth the $16.4 million he's guaranteed this season—and the nearly $38 million he's guaranteed over the next two years—would the Grizzlies be shopping him?
He is having one of his worst seasons as a pro scoring 17.2 points per game—which is his lowest scoring output since his rookie season—and he's shooting career-lows from the field and three-point range.
In Gay's six-plus years in the NBA, his Grizzlies have made the playoffs just twice. Their most successful postseason was in the 2010-2011 season, but Gay missed all of the playoffs with a shoulder injury.
He played in the 2011-2012 playoffs and the team was ousted in the first round. Am I blaming Gay for the team's less impressive playoff run?
No, but it does prove he's not the difference maker the Raptors covet.
Toronto needs a player who changes the culture of a team that has had very little success. There is no reason to believe Gay would represent change.
Committing to such a rich salary would also make it difficult to pay a free agent to play a significant role over the next two years. The team is seemingly building around young, international bigs and DeRozan.
Adding Gay to this mix—even if it is only at the expense of parting with Jose Calderon and Ed Davis—wouldn't make the Raptors a contender in the East.
This team's only hope is to build through the draft and to continue to scout internationally. Toronto is seemingly a tough sell to many American stars, so trading for a marquee player isn't a bad idea.
However, overpaying someone for the sake of making a splash is.
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