Trading Rudy Gay

As of this moment the Sacramento Kings are the only team in the NBA without a point guard available for opening night. If no further moves are made, we will open the doors to our gorgeous new arena and celebrate the long journey with Garrett Temple as our starter. Darren Collison will almost assuredly be serving a moderately long suspension and with no other ball handlers to be found, a journeyman small forward will be bringing the ball up the court. The only other option, iCousins, probably didn't show enough in Summer League to make the roster and certainly shouldn't be in the rotation at this point. LaMar Patterson is described as a "playmaker", but similar to Temple, he's simply a wing that can perform emergency ball-handling duties.

Due to our lack of valuable assets, the most common and sensible solution to our rather desperate point guard need is to trade Rudy Gay and other "pieces" for a player better than Darren Collison or for a stop-gap to fill in while he's out. Rudy certainly has value to a team that needs a solid veteran wing, but one of the main issues with trading Gay is that he's our second best player. Although he under-performed during the chaos of last season, he is still easily a top three talented teammate that Boogie has ever had on the roster. Another concern is promoting a career role player into a full-time starting position. Omri Casspi was great off of the bench last year as a scoring and shooting threat, but we've tried to force bench guys into starters before and it has rarely worked out for the better. We also have Collison coming back in an undetermined number of games, so we cannot sacrifice too many assets for a player who will eventually come off of the bench in fifteen or twenty games.

If we can't find the right deal through a trade, there are still serviceable stop-gap point guards available in free agency. Specifically, three players come to mind that could step in as an emergency starter for the games that Collison is going to miss. Norris Cole, Shane Larkin, and Mario Chalmers are all average bench guards who can start in a pinch. If trading Gay would result in a player that is about equal to their production, then we should simply cut iCousins and LaMar Patterson to sign one of these three players. Somewhat surprising to me, Chalmers was the most productive player last season:

Per Game:
Cole 27 26.6 0.405 0.7 2.3 0.324 0.427 0.439 1.2 1.4 0.8 3.4 3.7 0.8 0.1 1.7 10.8 0.465 0.211 22 12.8 -3.7 -0.5 10.6
Larkin 23 22.4 0.442 0.5 1.4 0.361 0.464 0.481 1.1 1.4 0.776 2.3 4.4 1.2 0.2 1.9 13.3 0.515 0.215 29.3 21 -2.2 -0.1 7.3
Chalmers 29 22.5 0.41 0.8 2.4 0.309 0.461 0.462 3.6 4.3 0.832 2.6 3.8 1.4 0.2 1.8 17.3 0.561 0.336 26.6 16.4 1.5 1.2 10.3

Per 36 Minutes:
Cole 0.405 1 3.1 0.324 0.427 1.6 2 0.8 4.5 5 1.1 0.2 2.3 14.3
Larkin 0.442 0.8 2.2 0.361 0.464 1.7 2.2 0.78 3.7 7 2 0.2 3 11.6
Chalmers 0.41 1.2 3.9 0.309 0.461 5.7 6.9 0.83 4.1 6 2.3 0.3 2.9 16.5

If Chalmers is still recovering and Larkin and Cole get snatched up by other teams, Vlade will be forced to dive into they murky world of the trade market. When fiddling with the ever-addictive trade machine, every fan base has a tough time evaluating current players' trade value. Oftentimes, we overvalue our own guys and underestimate the importance of chemistry on other rosters. For example, Chicago has long been a rumored trade partner for Rudy Gay and there are still trade ideas put out there with Chicago receiving Gay; however the Bulls signings of Rondo and Wade moved Jimmy Butler, their best player, to small forward which means that Gay simply doesn't fit their roster. They also have decent backup wings in McDermmott and Mirotic. Lastly, Rudy Gay under-performed playing with Rondo last season and clearly didn't enjoy the pairing. I don't foresee the front office of Chicago sacrificing assets to acquire a duplicate player who doesn't play well with their brand new point guard.

Determining Need

The first step in forming a fair trade is determining which teams may need the assistance of your asset. I would love to trade Gay to Toronto for Corey Joseph, but the Raptors have no need of Gay's services. Here is a breakdown of every team's starting small forward and power forward as well as their best(ish) back up wing. Theoretically, Rudy can play some small stretch 4 and if a team was deep enough, he could come off of the bench.

(u) = untradeable

Team Starters Bench Wing Team Starters Bench Wing
Atl Bazemore (u), Millsap Seflosha Mia Winslow, Bosh (?) Josh Richardson
Bkn Hollis-Jefferson, Scola Sean Kilpatrick Mil Antetokounmpo, Parker M Teletovic (u)
Bos Crowder, Johnson Brown (u) Min Wiggins, Dieng Shabazz Muhammad
Cha MKG, Marvin Williams (u) Lamb NOP Hill (u), AD Pondexter
Chi Butler, Mirotic McDermott NYK Anthony (u), Porzingis Lance Thomas (u)
Cle James (u), Love Dunleavy Okc Roberson, Illyasova Singler
Dal Barnes (u), Nowitzki Justin Anderson Orl Gordon/Ibaka Hezonja, Fournier (u)
Den Gallinari, Faried Chandler/Barton Phi Henderson (u), Simmons Saric (u)
Det Morris, Harris Stanley Johnson Phx Tucker, Len Dudley (u)
GSW Durant (u), Green Iguodala Por Turner (u), Farouq Aminu Harkless (u)/Crabbe (u)
Hou Ariza, Anderson (u) Brewer SAS Leonard, Aldridge Kyle Anderson
Ind George, Young CJ Miles Tor Carroll, Patterson Ross
LAC Mbah a Moute, Griffin Wes Johnson (u) Ut Hayward, Favors Joe Johnson
LAL Deng, Randle Ingram Was Porter, Morris Oubre
Mem Chandler (u), Zbo Vince Carter

The majority of organizations are pretty set at starting small forward. It probably would have been wiser to deal Gay before Free Agency as there were many more teams with a wing need. Right now, the following teams could have some use for Rudy Gay on their roster:

Team Starters Bench Wing
Cha MKG, Marvin Williams (u) Lamb
Den Gallinari, Faried Chandler/Barton
Hou Ariza, Anderson (u) Brewer
LAC Mbah a Moute, Griffin Wes Johnson (u)
Min Wiggins, Dieng Shabazz Muhammad
NOP Hill (u), AD Pondexter
OKC Roberson, Illyasova Singler
Phx Tucker, Len Dudley (u)
Wash Porter, Morris Oubre

Although we trimmed off the majority of the league, there are still a few teams that could use the Rudini. Charlotte is looking to win now and may be trying to move on from the injury-prone Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Denver tried to add Dwayne Wade in the offseason and they seem to be aggressive in the trade market. Michael Malone and Rudy Gay also had a great relationship, so their front office could try and swing a trade for him. Houston is always looking to change things up and they may cut bait with Beverley for the right offer. Harden handles the ball most of the time and they could slide Eric Gordon into the starting lineup as another offensive threat. The Clippers have needed a quality small forward for several years now. Minnesota should really be playing Wiggins at shooting guard and a solid wing could help them make that move. Thibs also loves his veterans, so there could be some desire from his standpoint as well. The Pelicans have several role players in Solomon Hill, Quincy Pondexter, and Dante Cunningham to utilize at small forward, but not a single one of those guys is a starter in the NBA. The Thunder have Kyle Singler, enough said. Phoenix has a plethora of guards and P.J. Tucker and Jared Dudley don’t make an impressive wing duo. Washington hasn’t been in love with Otto Porter and their massive extension of Bradley Beal signals that they want to take another step within the league.

Spare Guards

Of course, the entire goal of this exercise is to trade for a point guard. Here is every teams' full complement of ball handlers:

Team Ball Handlers Team Ball Handlers
Atl Schroder, Jack (u) Mia Dragic, Johnson (u), Weber
Bkn Lin (u), Vasquez (u), Mil MCW, Dellavedova (u), Ennis
Bos Thomas, Bradley, Smart, Rozier. D Jackson (u) Min Rubio, Dunn (u), LaVine, Jones
Cha Walker, Sessions (u), Gutierrez NOP Holiday, Evans, Frazier (u)
Chi Rondo (u), Grant, Canaan (u), Dinwiddie NYK Rose, Jennings (u),
Cle LeBron James (u), Kyrie, Mo Williams OKC Westbrook, Payne, Oladipo
Dal D Williams (u), Devin Harris, JJ Berea, S. Curry (u) Orl Payton, Watson, Augustin (u)
Den Nelson, Mudiay, Murray (u) Phi Bayless (u), Rodriguez (u), Marshall
Det R Jackson, Ish Smith (u), L. Brown, Ray Mac (u) Phx Bledsoe, Knight, Barbosa, (u) Ulis (u)
GSW Curry, Livingston, McCaw (u) Por Lillard, McCollum, Napier
Hou Beverley, Harden, Prigioni (u) SAS Parker, Mills, Murray (u)
Ind Teague, Stuckey, Joe Young, Aaron Brooks (u) Tor Lowry, Joseph, Wright
LAC Paul, Rivers (u), Felton (u) Ut Hill, Exum, Mack, Neto
LAL Russell, Calderon (cannot be traded w/ another player), Was Wall, Burke
Mem Conley (u), Wade Baldwin (u), Harrison (u)

Again, we can eliminate a vast majority of trade possibilities because of every teams' need for multiple guards who can bring the ball up the court. The following teams could get away with trading a ball handler and still have a solid roster:

Bos Thomas, Bradley, Smart, Rozier. D Jackson (u)
Cle LeBron James (u), Kyrie, Mo Williams
Dal D Williams (u), Devin Harris, JJ Berea, S. Curry (u)
Den Nelson, Mudiay, Murray (u)
Hou Beverley, Harden, Prigioni (u)
Mil MCW, Dellavedova (u), Ennis
Min Rubio, Dunn (u), LaVine, Jones
NOP Holiday, Evans, Frazier (u)
Phx Bledsoe, Knight, Barbosa, (u) Ulis (u)
Ut Hill, Exum, Mack, Neto

From the list above, there are about 14 players who could be targeted in a Rudy Gay trade. In respect to Rudy Gay's value, here's where I have them ranked:

Lower Value About the Same Higher Value
Rozier Pat Beverly Ricky Rubio
Mo Williams Tyreke Evans Brandon Knight
Devin Harris Eric Bledsoe
JJ Berea Marcus Smart
Jameer nelson
Michael Carter-Williams
Shelvin Mack
Raul Neto

Straight Swaps

As we start to put everything together it becomes obvious that the majority of teams that may need help at the small forward position do not have a guard that they can send back to make the trade palatable for both organizations. Only Minnesota, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, and Phoenix have a small forward need and possibly a guard to spare. Of those teams, Minnesota wouldn't do a straight swap as Rubio is more valuable than Gay, the Thunder don't have the salaries to make a trade work, and Michael Carter-Williams isn't as productive as Rudy. There are two theoretical straight swaps that can work salary-wise:

Trade 1:

Sac: Knight

Phx: Rudy Gay, Ben McLemore

Although the trade works in the trade machine and Phoenix needs an upgrade at the wing, I don't believe Phoenix will make this trade. Knight is a young player on a long term contract and the Suns are in rebuilding mode. The Suns would be foolish to give up a solid guard for a one year rental of a veteran. I think they can probably get more value for Knight than Gay. I'm also located in Phoenix and there are zero reports of the Suns being interested in Gay.

Trade 2:

Sac: Tyreke Evans

NOP: Rudy Gay

The Pelicans don't and shouldn't have interest in Rudy Gay as he doesn't fit their timeline. They want young players that they can add to their core who will grow with Anthony Davis. A young wing would really be an asset to them, but Rudy isn't young and he's on an expiring contract as he's likely to opt out after the season. I don't foresee the Pelicans making this deal.

Three Team Deals

Because of the lack of straight swaps available, we will have to rely on a three team trade to make salaries and needs work. Essentially, the task evolves into finding a team that needs a veteran wing and can also send another piece to one of the teams that can spare a guard. This is the reason trading Rudy has become such a difficult task. Here is a simplified chart to compare what assets can go where:

Team Starters Bench Wing Team Ball Handlers
Cha MKG, Marvin Williams (u) Lamb Bos Thomas, Bradley, Smart, Rozier. D Jackson (u)
Den Gallinari, Faried Chandler/Barton Cle LeBron James (u), Kyrie, Mo Williams
Hou Ariza, Anderson (u) Brewer Dal D Williams (u), Devin Harris, JJ Berea, S. Curry (u)
LAC Mbah a Moute, Griffin Wes Johnson (u) Den Nelson, Mudiay, Murray (u)
Min Wiggins, Dieng Shabazz Muhammad Hou Beverley, Harden, Prigioni (u)
NOP Hill (u), AD Pondexter Mil MCW, Dellavedova (u), Ennis
OKC Roberson, Illyasova Singler Min Rubio, Dunn (u), LaVine, Jones
Phx Tucker, Len Dudley (u) NOP Holiday, Evans, Frazier (u)
Was Porter, Morris Oubre Phx Bledsoe, Knight, Barbosa, (u) Ulis (u)
Ut Hill, Exum, Mack, Neto

Using this chart as a model I was able to come up with two different trades that look pretty fair for both teams.

Trade 1:

Hou: Gay, McLemore

Sac: Ariza, Beverley

Why Houston does the deal: The Houston Rockets are seemingly going all in on a roster that fits Mike D'Antoni's playing style (image a front office that makes sure its coach fits its star!) Rudy Gay would be a perfect fit under D'Antoni as he can score in transition and can play either forward spot. Rudy is also an above average three point shooter which is always attractive to an offensive-minded team. Ben McLemore is a project and his value is based on his potential alone. D'Antoni could simply use McLemore as a three point threat and attacker in transition off of the bench. Pat Beverley has been injury prone throughout his career and doesn't pair all that well with Harden. The Rockets could move Eric Gordon into the starting lineup and Harden would handle the ball as he usually does.

Why Sacramento does the deal: Defense! Defense! Defense! The Kings would get a player in Beverley who is an injury risk, but he can easily fill in as the starter when Collison is out. He is also a defensive nuisance and I'm certain at some point we would run a lineup of Beverley, Afflalo, Barnes, WCS, and Boogie to really irritate some teams. Ariza could start as a wing defender and we could keep Casspi on the bench as our go to instant offense. We would get a pretty good return for an expiring contract and a young project. We may need to include some sort of other compensation as well as we would win that trade in my book.

Trade 2:

Was: Rudy Gay

NOP: Otto Porter, Trey Burke

Sac: Tyreke Evans, Dante Cunningham

Why Washington does the deal: Washington is going to let Otto Porter become a restricted free agent this summer and he's never lived up to his expectations. He's a nice two-way player, but doesn't fit all that well with Beal and Wall. Rudy Gay is another scorer in the lineup and can play Small Forward or Power Forward.

Why New Orleans does the deal: New Orleans still needs a wing. Solomon Hill and Quincy Pondexter are not long term solutions for a young team. Otto Porter is a guy who can grow with the team. They would have the rights to match a contract offer for him in free agency if they were pleased with his performance. Burke gives them an average backup point guard for Holiday. They also clear out the logjam at guard with Holiday, Hield, and Evans.

Why Sacramento does the deal: The Kings need a ball handler and Tyreke is best with the ball in his hands. He can run either guard spot and can even play Small Forward in a pinch. Tyreke is long and rangy and would provide Joerger with another solid defensive player. When Collison returns, the Kings could slide Darren to off-guard as he plays well without the ball in his hands or we could bring Collison off of the bench in a super sub role. We wouldn't lose much spacing if we started them together as Tyreke shot a shocking 39% from three point range last season while taking three shots per game (although he's shot a miserable 29% form beyond the arc for his career). If Evans could keep up those shooting percentages we would be starting a good group of shooters with Collison (40% from three), Evans (39% from three), Casspi (41% from three), and Boogie (33% from three). This move doesn't get us a long term asset in exchange for Gay, but I'm not certain a trade exists where we get a pick or young prospect in return.

The Best Solution

The best solution is often the most simple one. The Kings should be checking in with Mario Chalmers' health on a regular basis to see if he will be ready to go on opening night. If not, pursuing Norris Cole or Shane Larkin wouldn't be the worst plan of action in the world. Vlade should certainly be working the phones to try and improve the roster talent, but with Rudy's expiring contract and the lack of desperate teams for his services, we may not find a fair trade before the season begins. I hope to see the Kings sign a stop-gap point guard in free agency, cut Patterson, and try to swing Gay for future assets at the trade deadline when Vlade realizes this team isn't headed anywhere fast.

Feel free to use the spreadsheets above as a Rudy Gay trade primer and let the community know what deals you came up with in the trade machine!

(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)