San Antonio Spurs: Rudy Gay still carries strong value in the trade market

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 03: Rudy Gay #22 of the San Antonio Spurs attempts a free throw against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second quarter at Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 03, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 03: Rudy Gay #22 of the San Antonio Spurs attempts a free throw against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second quarter at Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 03, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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The San Antonio Spurs can still get good value for Rudy Gay in a trade

If there is one word that could tie the 2020 free agent and draft classes together it would be “underwhelming.” Most teams, including the San Antonio Spurs, will be eyeing the star loaded draft and free agent groups of 2021 rather than focus on the players who can enter the league or switch teams over the next few months.

As Brian Windhorst noted earlier this week, there probably won’t be a lot of action in free agency this summer. The biggest names on the market all have player options that they can pick up and while the NBA’s financial future is so uncertain it’s definitely in the player’s interest to capitalize on what they have and lock up another high paying year while they can.

This could lead to a heavy trade market this fall as teams try to reposition themselves for the future or reload for a deep playoff run in 2021. The San Antonio Spurs are one of the teams that people suspect could be involved in the action in the coming months.

Most of the speculation around trades the Spurs might make is centered around DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. It makes sense, they’re the team’s two biggest names and both of them have an awkward fit with where the team seems to be going in the next few years.

In the bubble, the Spurs proved they could find success without Aldridge, and DeRozan’s positional overlap with several other young key talents could mean the end of his time in the Alamo City. Deserved as the speculation is, there is another player on San Antonio’s roster whose future with the team is equally uncertain.

Rudy Gay could be a valuable trade chip for the San Antonio Spurs this fall

Coming off of an impressive 2019-20 season with the Spurs, Rudy Gay underperformed for much of the season. This could’ve been what led the Spurs to shop him around near the trade deadline, but apparently the difference between the Spurs asking price and Gay’s on-court performance up until that point led to a lack of interest from teams around the league.

Jabari Young reported at the time that teams thought Gay had something left in the tank, but they weren’t willing to pony up what the Spurs wanted in order to acquire the 34-year-old veteran.

“If they get a nice asset back, I think they would do something with Rudy Gay, but I think their asking price is too high,” said the league executive.

“Rudy still has something in his tank,” said an NBA scout, who added teams are not dying to help the Spurs as the franchise had dominated the league throughout Gregg Popovich’s tenure as head coach.

They may have been asking for too much a few months ago but Rudy’s strong performance in the bubble might have changed some team’s minds. With their season on the line and injuries ravaging their roster, Rudy was there for the Spurs when they needed him most.

Over his seven-game stretch in Orlando, Gay looked much more like the player who was a key contributor for the Spurs last year, not the man who looked like he was on his last legs.  Playing just under 25 minutes per game in that span, Gay averaged 17.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 46.8 percent from the field while also hitting 45.7 percent of his looks from behind the arc.

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On his best nights, Rudy is still a versatile forward who can give you points from all over the court. He’s lost a step on defense but that was never the attraction of his game, Gay’s been a dangerous scorer since he came into the league and his play in Orlando showed that he can still contribute in a limited role.

Now, as Gay approaches the final year of his contract with the Spurs, you can see his successor waiting on the bench. In the final game of the regular season, we finally got to see what Luka Samanic could do. His 16 point performance was just enough to get Spurs fans excited about what he might have in store for us next year. He could be in a prime position to take over the role of a floor-spacing forward in the San Antonio rotation.

If San Antonio has confidence in Samanic’s ability to extend that level of play into next season they might look to move Rudy soon. As mentioned earlier, he’s approaching unrestricted free agency and is far outside the age range of the key players on the Spurs roster. He’s also widely respected around the league and can be counted down to knock down open three’s. He’d be a great acquisition for any team with title aspirations that could use a little more depth in their frontcourt.

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There’s no harm in the San Antonio Spurs decide not to trade Rudy Gay there’s no harm in that either. They could use his veteran wisdom in the locker room and we all know how strapped they are for 3-point shooting. Either way, include Gay with DeRozan and Aldridge as names to watch as the trade rumors heat up.

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