Two days ago, Rudy Gay tweeted this statement:
And while Rudy was most likely not speaking about his time in Memphis(or maybe he was, the writing was not only on the wall but all over the internet), he was correct in his assumptions. Rudy Gay was one of the highest paid players in the NBA this year, and has been since he signed the five year, $80 Million deal with Memphis in 2010.
The deal included the stipulation that Rudy Gay’s contract would increase by 10.5% each year, meaning that the Grizzlies were on schedule to pay Gay close to $17 Million in 2014, and $19 Million in 2015. While Gay has slowly become one of the faces of the franchise, he was simply not earning that type of money. To give you a comparison to other players:
Rudy Gay is currently ranked 27th among all Small Forwards in the NBA(yes, just small forwards) in PER, with a 14.39. (This is hugely ironic by the way, as John Hollinger, the man pretty much responsible for trading Gay, invented that stat.) The two players who surround Rudy Gay are Kwahi Leonard of the Spurs (26th, 14.43) and Dorell Wright of the Sixers (28th, 14.12).
While Rudy is set to make right around $15 Million this year, Dorell Wright will make $4.1 Million this year, and Kwahi Leonard will make $1.8 Million. Not really getting any bang for your buck are you?
Rudy was averaging career lows in free throw percentage and field goal percentage(his field goal percentage is down from 45% to 40%, making almost a shot less per game) and thus his scoring is down as well. Gay also doesn’t fit in the Grizzlies scheme in the way that your highest paid player should. With him not shooting well and pounding the ball, teams could sag into Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, preventing the Grizzlies from being able to play any inside-out or pick and roll with any efficiency. Also, with O.J. Mayo gone, Tony Allen was the other scoring option if Gay couldn’t get open and the ball couldn’t get down low. Needless to say, it was time for a time to rebuild this offense.
While Zach Randolph’s name has been thrown around in trade rumors as well, the Grizzlies seemed to have built themselves for long term. They grab an expiring contract in Tayshaun Prince(who could actually help them on the defensive side of the ball, another area where Gay was lacking), and a young player in Ed Davis who isn’t well known now, but will be soon now that his energy and solid defense has moved south of the border. Austin Daye has also been looking for a new place to prove himself, and after the Grizzlies trade last week, there are room for role players on that bench. They also have alot more cap space to work with in 2014.
Don’t feel bad for Rudy Gay though. He gets a new home in Toronto that is going to feature him as their star, and will most likely turn to him when making certain decisions. He also teams up with Kyle Lowry, whom is well known to be one of Gay’s closest friends in the NBA. A starting five of Lowry, Derozan, Gay, Terrence Ross and Amir Johnson is a much better starting five than they started the day with.
The Raptors can rebuild their offense to play off of Gay(possibly in the way you see the Celtics do with Paul Pierce at times), and become extremely athletic. Don’t be surprised if the Raptors make a small push here in the second half, and make sure to circle February 20th on your calendar. The Raptors and their new superstar head to Memphis.