It is impossible to examine Rudy’s body of work last season, and what he might provide next, without commenting on his bloated contract. I dislike assessing players in this fashion, but Rudy is so expensive that I can’t avoid it. So here goes: I think Rudy can be a valuable contributor on a championship-level team, but he’s paid like he’s a superstar, which he isn’t. As the NBA enters an era where salary cap considerations really matter, Rudy doesn’t produce the Return On Investment (ROI) needed to justify his continued presence on the roster. Rudy will earn just under $18M next season, and the salary cap is expected to be around $59M, so he’s chewing up 30% of our cap by himself.
Feb 22, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Raptors forward Rudy Gay (22) waits to take his next free throw as point guard Kyle Lowry (3) tries to quiet the crowd in the closing minutes against the New York Knicks at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Knicks 100-98. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Since I’ve already started down the path of Things I Don’t Like Writing About by even mentioning salary cap and ROI, let’s keep going. Giving up multiple players to acquire one has always struck me as terribly risky. When that one player eats up an enormous portion of salary cap space, you’re compounding the felony. An NBA team with 10 players it can count on is far better off than one with 8, even if those 8 have higher average PERs that our imaginary 10. Injuries are so crippling to a basketball team, because no major sport uses fewer players (an NBA team can dress as few as 8). Rapture Nation, do you remember Andrea Bargnani’s brilliant start to the ’11-’12 season, and how shattered we were when he went down with a calf injury? I’ll wager Dwane Casey booted himself in the derriere many times for overstressing Andrea, and suffering the consequences.
I’m sorry if I seem all over the place with this post, but Rudy the Raptor makes me a bit crazy. The way he became a Rap (which I don’t blame him for, of course) still sticks in my craw. Giving up Jose Calderon and Ed Davis for a ball-stopper seems as wrong today as it did when the deal went down. And did our squad make the much-anticipated burst for the final playoff berth once Rudy was on board? Um, not exactly. His PER is 15.7; the mythical average player is 15. What was Bryan Colangelo expecting – the second coming of Michael Jordan?
Rudy is a big Small Forward, and makes opposing SFs pay by shooting over them, or driving by them. He’s not the worst defender I’ve ever seen, and will mix it up under the boards. Rudy occasionally appears to be giving less than a full effort, however, some players look like they aren’t trying even when they are, and I believe he’s one of those. There’s no reason to think he’s anything but a popular teammate, and a solid citizen, both of which intangibles are very important when I assess a player. He also stays healthy, another big check-box of mine. I bashed Rudy earlier as a ball-stopper on offense, but it’s possible he will grow to trust the finishing skills of teammates like Jonas Valanciunas and DeMar DeRozan, and pass more. He shows signs of that kind of growth as last season wound down.
But enough of this sunshine. Rudy’s contract is a cap choker, and unless he starts playing like an All-Star, he’s not worth it.
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.