Aug 5, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay (22) reacts during the first half of a NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets at Visa Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The San Antonio Spurs veteran forward showed he’s still got moves this year
There were plenty of bright spots along the San Antonio Spurs impressive end to the 2019-20 regular season. They ultimately came up short of their goal of making the playoffs but still, there was a lot to like about the Spurs end to the year.
Most of the headlines were centered around the emergence of Derrick White and Dejounte Murray as the teams starting backcourt or the phenomenal performances strung together by Keldon Johnson. But there was one Spurs player who was instrumental to the team’s success down the stretch but didn’t get his due.
When the Spurs needed him most, Rudy Gay was there for them. He’d had an up and down season but when his number was called in close games, he delivered.
Averaging just 25 minutes per game across seven contests, Gay averaged 17.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 45.7 percent from 3-point range. His full arsenal of scoring moves was on display down the stretch as Gay strung vintage performance onto vintage performance as he helped push the Spurs closer to a playoff spot.
While Rudy’s clutch bubble performances didn’t end up getting the San Antonio Spurs into the playoffs, it certainly put him on the radar of contending teams who might be looking for one more veteran to add to their roster for a title push. Here are three contending teams who might be interested in acquiring Rudy Gay’s services before next year’s deadline.
Next: New coach, same problems
Oct 28, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) reacts after a basket with center Al Horford (42) and guard Josh Richardson (0) against the Atlanta Hawks in the fourth quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
The Philadelphia 76ers could ask to make a trade with San Antonio Spurs
The big news out of Philadelphia this summer is the 76ers hiring of Doc Rivers, but no head coaching change is going to magically turn the Sixers from a pretender into a contender. There are serious roster moves that need to be made in Philly.
Consider this, the San Antonio Spurs got more out of Rudy Gay down the stretch than the 76ers got from Al Horford and one of those players is just finishing up the first of a four-year deal that’s set to pay him around $27 million per year over four years. Here’s a hint – it’s not Rudy.
Tobias Harris wasn’t much better. Sure, he put up points but he’s not a great passer, not a great defender, and he was a total dud from behind the arc in the first-round series against Boston. Harris went 2 for 15 from behind the arc in that sweep against the Celtics. You can’t put all the blame for Philly coming up short at his feet but he certainly didn’t come through like the Sixers were hoping he would.
It’s going to be hard for the Sixers to make the moves that they need to make with Horford and Harris on the roster and it’ll be hard to move either one of them if Philly isn’t able to find a willing trade partner and even then they’re likely going to have to attach picks or young prospects as an enticement. But we’re not here to solve Philly’s problems, we’re here to offer a solution.
If the Sixers can move off of Horford, Harris, or both, Gay would serve as an excellent replacement. He’s on a cheaper deal, he’s a proven 3-point shooter, and he’s going to be an unrestricted free agent. He’d give them a similar on the floor impact that they’re getting from Harris and Horford without nearly as large of an impact on their salary cap.
If the marriage between Philadelphia and Gay were to work out, great, re-sign him to another deal when he hits the open market in 2021. If not, the Sixers would be free to let him walk and then search the market for another star to add to the combo of Simmons and Embiid.
Next: Following D'Antoni
Mar 2, 2020; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon (7) drives past San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay (22) in the second half at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Pacers could add Rudy Gay and Mike D’Antoni in one offseason
First and foremost, the Indiana Pacers did not have to fire Nate McMillan. He led them to the playoffs every year despite serious injuries to several key players throughout his tenure. There aren’t many coaches on the market this offseason who will be viewed as an upgrade over McMillan.
One of the few coaches who the Pacers have been linked to that would be a slight upgrade over McMillan would be former Houston Rockets head coach, Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni made it clear to the Rockets that he would not be returning for another season and now everyone is wondering where he might end up. The Pacers look like a logical destination.
Rudy Gay would be a perfect forward in D’Antoni’s spaced out system. He could fill a role similar to what PJ Tucker did on the Rockets, bringing 3-point shooting and some rebounding to a five out lineup.
Gay’s also got the versatility to play with Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, although it’s unclear how much longer the latter might be in the heartland. If they do stick around, Gay is more than capable of playing with either of them.
The Pacers already have a versatile group of forwards in TJ Warren and Doug McDermott but adding another veteran floor spacer like Gay wouldn’t be a bad move and would certainly elevate the ceiling of a team that is very clearly tired of underperforming.
Next: A team looking to return to the Finals
Jan 15, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay (22) is guarded by Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Heat should call San Antonio Spurs about Rudy Gay
Regardless of how their series with the Los Angeles Lakers ends – and I think we all know how it’s going to end – the Miami Heat should give the San Antonio Spurs a call about Rudy Gay.
The Heat’s lack of forward depth has been exposed this postseason. They were able to adapt on the fly, deploying Bam Adebayo for heavy minutes as their center and surrounding him with wings and guards but when Bam went down they were in serious trouble.
Now Gay isn’t a replacement for Adebayo in the event that the latter gets injured again but he’s certainly a more versatile option than Meyers Leonard or Kelly Olynyk. He’d be able to play alongside Adebayo or serve as a small-ball center if Adebayo goes down or simply needs a breather.
Rudy would also fit well with the Heat culture and their plans for the future. He’s a proven veteran, well respected for his work ethic and professionalism, and he’s only under contract until 2021. He’d surely buy into the “hardest-working, best conditioned, most professional, unselfish, toughest, meanest, nastiest team in the NBA” mindset while also not crowding up the Heat’s books in 2021 when they surely plan to go big game hunting.
Who knows, maybe the Spurs would be able to convince the Heat to even take DeMar DeRozan off their hands too.
Rudy Gay has been a great signing for the San Antonio Spurs and the team should be happy to keep him around for another year. But if a contender comes calling and is offering picks of young players in exchange for the veteran the Spurs have to at least consider making a deal.