Apr 24, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George receives the Most Improved Player Award from injured player Danny Granger before playing against the Atlanta Hawks during game two of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Atlanta 113-98. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
“Your best player has to be your best player” – tiresome cliche, often mouthed by clueless colour commentators
“…unless he’s your most expensive player whose production can be replaced by kids.” – caveat I just invented
It’s early January 2014, and the Toronto Raptors have a .500 record. The team has been a pleasant surprise to this point in the season, particularly so because of the fine play of their youngsters. Terrence Ross is hitting enough 3-balls to be averaging over 10 PPG [points per game], as is Landry Fields, whose return to health has been a welcome bonus. Quincy Acy is helping out defensively on the wing, and so is Dwight Buycks in limited views. Through all this, Rudy Gay has pushed his scoring to over 20 PPG, and DeMar DeRozan has been solid. The only fly in this happy ointment? There aren’t enough minutes for 6 wing players, all of whom are contributing. (Is this scenario wildly optimistic, to the point of absurdity? I don’t believe so; I’m merely assuming the Raps’ young players will be better this season than last.)
In Indiana, Danny Granger has been pushed out of the spotlight by ongoing injuries and the emergence of Paul George, and has asked for a fresh start somewhere else. Ian Mahinmi is a tall, wide-bodied Frenchman with 5 years’ service in the NBA, who’s a rebounder and paint protector. The Raps are vulnerable to opponents who throw the ball to the low block, and have no “insurance” should Jonas Valanciunas be lost for an extended period. Trading the Pacers’ Mahinmi and Granger to the Raps for Rudy has almost no financial impact on either team. But it might be that rare deal that helps both sides on the court.
Raps do this deal because: All of a sudden, the team doesn’t need Rudy all that much. Danny can replace most of the points we’re giving up, and if he doesn’t work out, that’s a shame, but the kids will happily take his minutes. When Danny’s contract expires after the season, he can walk, and we’ve got nearly $15M in cap space. Ian is a relatively inexpensive ($4M) veteran big man who will always have value.
Pacers do this deal because: They are another team, like Chicago, with legitimate high hopes of competing for a Conference, or even a League, championship. Rudy is best as a complementary scorer; he’s too unreliable to be depended upon as your primary offensive option. Indiana has all kinds of scorers (George, David West, Luis Scola, Roy Hibbert) so Rudy would be able to step in and contribute immediately without being the Savior. A happy Rudy is a better Pacer than an unhappy Danny.
Verdict: Unlike the Charlotte trade I proposed, the announcement of this deal would bring a large smile to my face. We’d be out from under the last year of Rudy’s massive contract, and we’d have Rudy-lite and another big man to finish the season with. But remember – it’s all predicated on our kids proving themselves. I don’t advocate doing this deal today!
What do you think, Rapture Nation? Does this deal make sense? Let us know in the Comments.
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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