Free Agent Focus: Rudy Gay


Rudy Gay reportedly opted-in to his player option for next year. Ooooooppps. If he changes his mind between now and June 30, here’s how he would potentially fit with the Pistons. Until then, COME ON, Feldman. Get with it. 


2013-14 Team and All Previous Teams: Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings

Key Stats 2013/14 (Sacramento only): 20.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 48.2 FG%, 31.2 3PT% (on 2.5 attempts/game), 83.6 FT% (on 5.4 attempts/game)

Estimated contract (if he opts out): 4 years, $48-56 million

Matters to No One But Me …

On November 11, 2013, Rudy Gay attempted 37 shots (made 11 of them) in a single basketball game and simultaneously almost ended my relationship with hoop. I was mad at Coach Dwane Casey for idly observing the crime scene without acting to prevent it, mad at myself for caring and appreciative for LeBron’s sister abigal “green light” kiss of death when he said he would score 60 points if he took 37 shots.

Watching Gay play basketball for about five weeks this year with the Raptors is easily the most frustrating sports experience of my life. He took horrible shots, refused to move the ball around the perimeter, looked off Jonas Valanciunas in the post and held the ball too low on drives to the basket causing him to get stripped multiple times a game. He posted up, he took threes, he handled the ball – Gay did all these things poorly and voluminously. It was miserable. Trust me when I say this, it was worse than watching Josh Smith this year. Gay was so bad that the Raptors became better just by trading him and distributing his shots to players already on the roster.

But then Gay started playing well in Sacramento and I became genuinely happy for him, mostly because I was happier with the direction of the Raptors. By all accounts, Gay is a great teammate and person so I didn’t resent his success despite deeply rooted hurt and horrid memories.

Why did Gay get better in Sacramento? I have no idea. I don’t even care to find out. I’m just happy he’s gone and that his success or failure is no longer my concern.

Fits with the Stan Van Gundys because …

Gay is only 27 years old, as athletic as anybody in the league and has averaged 17 or more points-per-game for seven consecutive years in the league. He should be able to play power forward in small lineups and even post-up on either the left or right block with decent success. He likes to bring the ball up the court even though he shouldn’t be trusted with such responsibilities with any sort of regularity. He can do a lot of things but he can’t do any single one of them exceptionally well. Gay is a seven year veteran without an identity or specific skillset that can be leveraged to win games. He’s still a project.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

Here’s the list of players that averaged more than 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 free-throw attempts during the 2013-14 season:

Kevin Durant
LeBron James
Kevin Love
Blake Griffin
Paul George
Carmelo Anthony
Russell Westbrook

And … Gay during his 55-game stretch with the Kings. But Gay is not at the caliber of the others on the list. Not even close. He’s not an explosive or consistent scorer like Durant and Westbrook, plays more iso-ball than Anthony, not the defender that George is and not a world-class distributor like LeBron. The only thing he has in common with all those players? He looks the part of a star basketball player. He’s tall, long, chiseled and nobody looks better grabbing a one-handed rebound than Gay.

The Grizzlies made the Western Conference Finals in 2013 after replacing Gay with Tayshaun Prince, the Raptors were 6-12 with Gay and 42-22 without him this year and Sacramento didn’t get any closer to the playoffs after trading for him in early December. Is there any reason to expect different results with the Pistons or any other team next year?

Free Agent is …

… seeking a long-term contract. Gay can opt-out of his one year, $19 million player option this year in hopes of earning a long-term deal in free agency. Gay is the perfect early 2000s players that would get overpaid by Isiah Thomas, Billy King, Mark Cuban, Bryan Colangelo or Otis Smith. He looks so good when he plays basketball. Who can resist? Unfortunately for Gay, those general managers are gone or in the case of Cuban, changed their player acquisition philosophies. Oh wait, King is still around and has infinite resources. Never mind whatever I was about to say.

Best known for …

Pushing Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy to the verge of tears during the most riveting segment of “Open Gym” this year. As Gray says at the 13:00 minute mark: “You have to laugh so you don’t cry.”