Rudy Gay trade still paying dividends for Raptors

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 20: Kyle Lowry /

Sometimes trades prove to have no impact on either team. Yet there’s a trade Masai Ujiri made which has paid dividends since it was made, and will continue to.

Some years ago, I read an amusing analysis of a baseball trade which lasted for decades. By that I mean the author traced the careers of all those involved in the deal, and those who were traded for those involved, and so on. The otherwise unremarkable trade had an astonishing long tail, as they say in the insurance industry.

While basketball careers are much shorter than baseball ones, I thought it might be fun to examine the alive-ness of one of Masai Ujiri’s most famous and successful trades: moving Rudy Gay and spare parts to Sacramento in December of 2013.

Let’s use our standard trade format.

John Salmons’ time in Toronto was brief and undistinguished. Yet somehow Masai was able to flip him to the Atlanta Hawks for Sweet Lou Williams and the rights to Lucas (Bebe) Nogueira. Despite winning the Sixth Man of the Year award as a Raptor in 2014-15, Lou was allowed to walk to the Lakers. In a league pushing small ball and deep shooting more than ever, Lou will continue to be in work. He’s a Clipper next season.

Bebe remains a Raptor. Will this be the year he pushes Jonas Valanciunas out of the starting center role?

Salmons was waived by Phoenix in February of 2015.

Greivis Vasquez got a lot of minutes as a Raptor, then was moved in June of 2015 to the Milwaukee Bucks for the draft rights to Norman Powell (a lightly-regarded shooting guard out of UCLA) and Milwaukee’s first-round selection in 2017. That turned out to be OG Anunoby. Greivis is gone from the NBA, but the Raptors kids are just getting rolling.

Patrick Patterson was an excellent Raptor for several years, after re-upping with the team following the 2013-14 season. He looks to be on his way to the OKC Thunder, as Masai did not offer him a new contract.

Chuck Hayes is out of the NBA now, having been waived by Houston in 2015. He barely saw the floor in Toronto, his usage being limited to mop-up duty or when Dwane Casey wanted to offer an opposing big man a different defensive look (i.e., smallness). While Chuck was never a star, he gets credit from me for carving out a career. He played nine seasons after being undrafted – there aren’t many who can claim that.

As for the Kings…?

The Kings didn’t improve from the trade, continuing their woeful run of 11 straight seasons outside of the playoffs. Rudy Gay hung unto the ball until this season’s end. He declined the final year of his contract extension, and in a curious move, has been signed by the San Antonio Spurs. Perhaps coach Gregg Popovich can teach Rudy the merits of passing. No one else has been able to.

Aaron Gray’s NBA tenure was all but done before the trade. After warming the bench in Sac-to, he was signed then waived by Detroit. He retired in 2015.

Quincy Acy has bounced around a lot, and is currently filling out the roster of the Brooklyn Nets. Unless he suddenly discovers a 3-point shot, or acquires the rebounding ferocity of Reggie Evans, he won’t be in the bigs much longer.

To summarize, Masai turned Rudy Gay and a couple of bench guys into Norman Powell, OG Anunoby and Lucas Noguiera, plus productive seasons from Lou Williams, Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson. Assuming the youngsters stay with the Raptors, the trade will have “legs” for years to come.

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