Rudy Gay Era Begins in Toronto

by January 31, 2013

by Tracy Weissenberg / @basketballista

Ed Davis and Jose Calderon hugged their teammates goodbye, packed up their lockers, and left the arena before Wednesday’s contest against the Hawks.

Minutes before the deal was finalized to send Davis and Calderon to Memphis in exchange for Rudy Gay and Hamed Haddadi, I spoke with Raptors fourth-year guard DeMar DeRozan.

On what Gay could bring to the Raptors, DeRozan answered, “Everything. In my eyes, I always looked at Rudy as an All-Star 3 in this League and he’s definitely been one of my favorite players since UConn.”

Memphis sent Calderon to Detroit as part of the three-team deal in exchange for Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye. Calderon, who played all of his seven-plus seasons for the Raptors, has been consistent and consistently underrated throughout his career.

Since entering the League in 2005, Calderon is one of three players to average at least 10 points and 7 assists, while shooting 48 percent from the field. The others are Steve Nash and LeBron James. Rajon Rondo, who entered the League in 2006, has also maintained those averages.

The Pistons currently rank 25th in assists, with just over 20 per game. Calderon can surely impact the offense, especially when he’ll be feeding passes to young talented bigs Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. He is also a free agent after this season.

Asked if he viewed Calderon as underrated throughout his career, DeRozan said, “Yeah, that was my point guard since I’ve been in the League. He’s definitely underrated, he does a lot of things. I credit a lot of my success to him ’cause the way he gives me the ball, the way he finds me, and the trust that he has in me is definitely big.”

Toronto currently sits at 11th in the East, one spot below Detroit. Gay, in his seventh season, was just beginning to experience the satisfaction of being part of a repeat Playoff contender in Memphis. Both DeRozan and Gay are averaging just over 17 points. Gay has yet to be named to an All-Star team, and DeRozan has yet to experience the Playoffs.

If Gay and DeRozan’s talents can align in Toronto, the Raptors can run their offense through the two dynamic and athletic wings. For a team that hasn’t made the Playoffs since 2008, the addition of an established scorer in Rudy Gay should help sure up some of the offensive gaps, especially with Andrea Bargnani’s absence due to injury.

On the team’s direction, DeRozan said, “We have a lot of talent. We show spurts of how good we are, beating top teams. We just have to put it together consistently and we’ll be fine.”