New Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri has hit the ground running and is now ready to get rid of his second albatross contract in two weeks, reportedly shopping Rudy Gay to the Detroit Pistons.
Gay, whom the Raptors grabbed at midseason from the Memphis Grizzlies for Jose Calderon, Ed Davis and a second-round pick, still has two years left on his deal, meaning he would count $19 million against the books of any team that got ahold of him during next summer's free-agency bonanza.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Toronto is targeting two moderately productive players on expiring contracts in the trade:
My man @WindhorstESPN reporting that Pistons have offered expiring deals of Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva to Toronto for Rudy Gay— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 3, 2013
Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun reports that the Raptors have rebuffed such overtures, citing that they aren't prepared to trade Gay for nothing.
As I speculated earlier, told Raptors immediately said good job, good effort to low-ball Gay offer from Det No plans to move him for nothing— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) July 3, 2013
After getting rid of Andrea Bargnani's $23 million over the next two seasons in exchange for Quentin Richardson's expiring contract and the more tradable contracts of Steve Novak and Marcus Camby, the Raptors have put themselves in a position where they will have just $18 million on the books next summer.
However, that doesn't include next year's draft picks and player options they'll obviously pick up (Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross, Amir Johnson).
Villanueva and Stuckey aren't exactly going to send them to the playoffs, but as one-year rentals they aren't players who will turn fans against the team.
That said, it doesn't appear Toronto is interested in engaging in the type of tanking that would come with dealing Gay for just a pair of expiring contracts.
The Pistons' interest in him is obvious, as they have a clear need at the small forward position. How much they value Gay will depend upon if they're willing to up their offer to meet Ujiri's demands, whatever they are.
He may be a volume-shooting chucker with a low field-goal percentage, but he might be the player they need on the wing to take on part of the scoring load.
Regardless of how this trade would impact either team, it's obvious that while Ujiri isn't wasting any time cleaning up the mess that Bryan Colangelo left behind, he's not going to allow the Raptors to be taken advantage of.