Dec 1, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings power forward Chuck Hayes (42) shoots the ball against the Golden State Warriors during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Sacramento Kings 115-113. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Does the Gay trade mean Raps are tanking?

Unsurprisingly, the 7-player trade between the Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings has generated a blizzard of commentary. The tone of much of the opinion seems to treat this move by General Manager Masai Ujiri as the first in a series which will result in a Raps’ roster stripped bare of all or most of its best talent. Reaching such a conclusion is a surprise, and one I don’t agree with.

Dec 3, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings small forward John Salmons (5) drives in against Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Derek Fisher (6) during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Sacramento Kings 97-95. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Masai may have a teardown in mind, but the Gay trade is not proof of it. If the deal had returned promising youngsters and draft picks, then I would be of a different view, but the four new Raptors are all respectable NBA players. I’ve carried on a number of times about the threadbare nature of the Raps bench (in fact I had a post ready to go on the topic, which I’ll have to rewrite – thanks for nothing, Masai). None of our new guys is likely to grab a starting role, yet I’d be comfortable seeing any of them coming off the pine.

Adding Vasquez immediately improves our point guard situation [D.J. Augustin was waived last night; further proof that management believes we're solid now at the spot. I would have tossed Dwight Buycks off the Good Ship Raptor, but I've no problem with dumping D.J.]. I expect him to get a serious shot at the backup spot, nudging aside Buycks and Julyan Stone. Patterson, Salmons and Hayes will get some burn, perhaps as early as tonight.

The Raps defeated the Lakers in their first game without Rudy, and the offense looked sound. There was a lot of unselfish ball movement on display. We can’t expect huge games from Amir Johnson every night, but Landry Fields had no points in 30+ minutes, so it evens out.

I don’t expect any deals for some time, as Dwane Casey tries to figure out how he can best utilize his improved second unit. As of this moment, the Raps are not playing for ping-pong balls.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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Tags: Dwane Casey Rudy Gay Sacramento Kings Toronto Raptors

  • cd hall

    Good read but I disagree,the Raps are playing for ping pong balls. We just have not seen the end result yet! Give MU another ten days and lets talk again.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi cd:
      I may be dead wrong; that’s the risk I run. My point was that the deal, by itself, was not proof of any long term teardown plan. I think you’re right about the timing of Masai’s next move. It will happen quickly if it happens at all.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • AM

    I agree, the Gay trade was not part of a teardown. It was something that was simply needed but at the same time just gave them some financial flexibility. Like Ujiri said in the press conference, sometimes you just have to make a change.

    I’ll only be able to tell if he’s going for the ping-pong balls if another trade happens. At the the beginning of the season the only move I saw a must for Ujiri was Gay. They now have quite a few nice pieces for trades in the future but I wouldn’t be surprised if the there’s nothing until sometime closer to the deadline. At that point you’ll really get an idea where the team is going and make changes if needed.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi AM:
      You nailed it. The financial flexibility gained by this trade is important, but so are the raft of players. A few may stay, and others may be moved on. It’s the timing that’s key – we now have a few months to assess how well this team jells before the trade deadline. We’re not in panic mode.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • Dinos Charitopoulos

    Right now nobody knows if the trade was the start of the “T” procedure or not. If it stays at this one trade, it happend for helping the team play better, not worse. But there is a big IF…we have to wait and see…

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Dinos:
      Sorry for slow reply. Your comment just showed up, which is troubling.
      You are quite right, as seems to be your pattern. The Gay trade may be the start of the tank, but it’s not certain, despite the number of columnists who view the Raps-as-tankers to be a fait accompli.
      Why can’t the Gay deal be viewed as an acknowledgement that he wasn’t working for our team, and nothing more?
      Thanks for dropping by.