When the Rudy Gay trade happened, we here at the Wages of Wins were quite supportive of the Memphis Grizzlies’ decision to ship out a highly-overpaid, inaccurate scorer, and quite against the Toronto Raptors’ decision to trade away two of the league’s most underrated players in the exchange. Since the trade, only one of the players involved has come out and complained about being traded. Can you guess which one? If you guessed the one who makes the most money, you were correct! Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports:
Rudy Gay says the Memphis Grizzlies’ new ownership didn’t give him a shot to prove he was worth a multi-million dollar investment before it traded him in a three-team deal to the Toronto Raptors in January. “You have to give me a chance to see if I’m worth that,” Gay told Yahoo! Sports.
Should the Grizzlies have given Rudy Gay a chance to prove himself? Let’s take a look at Gay’s career numbers, shall we?
If you head over to The NBA Geek, you can see in full detail how Gay’s boxscore stats affect his Wins Produced, but this is the basic story: Rudy Gay is largely an average small forward with respect to most categories (rebounding, assists, steals, blocks, fouls, and turnovers). The real problem Rudy Gay has is that he’s a scorer who can’t shoot. Yes, he scores more points than an average player. But he also gets more misses than the average player. And when we factor this in, Rudy Gay is not actually helping his team win games. And this isn’t a recent development; our own Dave Berri mentioned this fact in 2010, back when Memphis first decided to give Gay a large contract that he didn’t deserve:
In four seasons, Gay has been below average [average Wins Produced per 48 minutes is 0.100] every time. And he has only produced 10.6 wins. Yes, Gay can score. And this is why Gay was given an $82 million deal this past summer (yes, that is a maximum contract). But Gay doesn’t produce wins because he doesn’t excel at the facets of the game that lead to victories. In other words, other than scoring, he doesn’t do much.
So before Memphis lavished a huge contract on him, Gay wasn’t worth the money. But after he signed the contract, Gay posted two consecutive above-average seasons. While this was an improvement, it still didn’t justify Gay’s contract, a fact that was made clear when the Grizzlies improved while he missed the team’s last 38 games (including playoffs) of the 2010-11 season due to injury:
So what are the lessons we learn from this story?
- The data said before this season started that the Grizzlies could survive without Gay. So paying Gay more than $80 million wasn’t necessary.
- Across the last 15 games, Memphis has now seen more evidence that Gay’s contract was unnecessary. At least, it should be clear that Memphis can find someone else who can “create” shots.
Given all this, Gay thinks that Memphis didn’t give him enough of a chance to prove himself. The truth is that Memphis was far too generous when they signed him to his current deal, and in the three years — three years! — since, Gay has done very little to show that he is worth a contract in the range of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul. Which is why Memphis ended up trading him away. But don’t tell that to Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo. Not content after giving Andrea Bargnani (five years, $50 million) and DeMar DeRozan (four years, $38 million) ridiculous extensions before they hit the open market, Colangelo is apparently ready to offer Gay a similar extension as well. These three players will already take up about 2/3 of the Raptors’ salary cap next season and 70% the season after that. Because of the way extensions work, Gay’s original salary can not be adjusted downwards, and any extended seasons will likely be at or above the final year of his current salary (which is $19.3 million). Which means that, if Colangelo has his way, the Raptors will increase Gay’s already bloated contract even further.
Instead of complaining that Memphis didn’t give him enough of a chance to prove himself, Gay should be happy that Memphis sent him to one of the few NBA franchises where he doesn’t have to prove anything to get a ridiculous contract extension.