When I wrote about Rudy Gay‘s contract situation two months ago, I described the Raptors forward as both an extension candidate and a trade candidate, depending on how the team thought he fit into its long-term plans. According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, that’s also how GM Masai Ujiri viewed Gay heading into training camp. Stein wrote on Friday that Toronto would have been willing to consider an extension for Gay if the club liked what it saw in camp.
Now, however, Stein suggests that there’s a “strong sense” the Raptors are open to trading anyone on their roster not named Jonas Valanciunas. While there are other potential trade candidates in Toronto, including DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, Gay looks like the most obvious chip. He’s still an 18 or 19 PPG player, and may be on an expiring contract, since he has a player option for 2014/15 that he could turn down in favor of a longer deal.
Gay’s $17.89MM salary will be a deterrent when it comes to finding a trade partner, but if the Raptors were willing to take a big salary back, along with an asset or two, it’s not hard to imagine them finding a taker. Non-tanking teams hoping to earn a playoff spot this season and needing one more piece to get there could show interest in Gay. The Bucks, Wizards, Bobcats, and Cavaliers are among the candidates that come to mind, and that’s just in the East.
So what do you think? Will Ujiri do what he did in Denver with Carmelo Anthony and Nene, striking a deal that ships his highest-paid player out of town? Or will the Raptors play out the season with Gay in the hopes of landing a playoff spot themselves?