The Toronto Raptors are currently in the midst of a rebuilding project, and it was believed they found their scoring superstar in Rudy Gay earlier this year.
But sources have told the National Post Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri has talked about trading the 27-year-old swingman and career 18-points per game scorer.
The Raptors acquired Gay and the $37 million left on his contract from the Memphis Grizzlies in a three-team trade in January, however that was the last major move by then GM Bryan Colangelo.
Plucked from Denver after winning the NBA Executive of the Year award, the Nigerian-born Ujiri has shown the stomach to make plenty of big moves. He moved No. 1 pick Andre Bargnani to the New York Knicks in July, clearing $23 million in cap space. Ujiri was also at the helm of the Nuggets when they traded Carmelo Anthony to New York, holding out for a number of players that kept the team in contention despite the superstar’s departure.
Gay can opt-out of his contract next summer, even though he’s scheduled to make $19.3 million in the 2014-15 season. Ujiri could sell Gay as a possible expiring contract if he believes it is Gay’s intention to opt-out.
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In 33 games in Toronto, Gay has averaged 19.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists. During his eight-year career Gay has shot 45 percent from the floor, a slight drawback for a player who is supposed to be the focal point of the Raptors offense.
The Raptors last made the playoffs in 2008, and while young players in shooting guard DeMar DeRozan and center Jonas Valanciunas have shown promise, the franchise is likely in line to miss the playoffs once again.
Ujiri could also have his eyes on the 2014 draft class, one loaded with stars like Kansas’s Andrew Wiggins, Duke’s Jabari Parker, and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart. Gay could fetch one or two draft picks, upping Toronto’s chances of landing a top selection.
Another idea could involve tanking. An anonymous NBA general manager told ESPN The Magazine that his club is actively tanking the season to increase their chances of getting a top draft pick next June. Moving Gay could be a sign the Raptors have already given up on this season before its even started, and are instead looking to the future.
The Raptors open the season on Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics at the Air Canada Centre.