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Lewenberg: Raptors send Gay to Kings, get four in return

Josh Lewenberg, TSN.ca
12/8/2013 11:52:01 PM
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LOS ANGELES - Rudy Gay's short-lived Raptors career came to an abrupt end just over 10 months after it began.

Masai Ujiri and the Raptors pulled the trigger on a seven-player deal that will send Gay to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for four players, Yahoo Sports first reported Sunday evening.

In a deal that could save them as much as $14.5 million next season, the Raptors acquire guards Greivis Vasquez and John Salmons along with forwards Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes in exchange for Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy.

Neither team can comment on the trade directly until after it's made official on Monday.

"It's never a good time to lose one of your starting players but it's a situation we all have to roll with and go with," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said moments before facing Kobe Bryant and the Lakers with only 11 players in uniform.

After coming to Toronto in a three-team trade from Memphis on Jan. 30, Gay fell out of favour this season, averaging 19.4 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting just 39 per cent from the field. Gay can opt out and become a free agent at the end of the year but the Raptors believed he wouldn't walk away from the $19.3 million he's owed, the primary motive for Ujiri.

Of the four players coming to Toronto, only Hayes' contract is fully guaranteed past this season. Salmons' is partially guaranteed for next season - the Raptors would only owe him $1 million if he's waived before June 30 - while Vasquez and Salmons would become free agents this summer if Toronto pulls their qualifying offers.

The Raptors went 18-18 after acquiring Gay last season - the sixth best record in the Eastern Conference during that span - but the team, like Gay himself, have gotten off to a disappointing start in 2013-14. Only two players in the league (Vince Carter and Kemba Walker) are shooting worse than Gay (minimum 200 field goal attempts) while the Raptors have won just six of their first 18 games, dropping their last five.

Looking to address redundancy at the wing positions - with Gay and the similar DeMar DeRozan accounting for the bulk of Toronto's shots - Ujiri opted to hold onto the younger DeRozan, who is having a career season.

"It's just part of the game," said DeRozan after learning about the trade. "You think about it but you try to do the best that you can on the court so it doesn't get to the point to where you start questioning whether one or the other will be here."

"It's crazy just to see a friend like that go, but once you've been through it a couple of times you kind of understand it's part of the game and part of the business," DeRozan said, citing last year's trade that brought Gay to Toronto and sent Ed Davis - one of his best friends - to Memphis.

Gay was informed of the trade earlier in the day and did not travel with the team to Staples Center. Most of his teammates were informed of the deal after arriving at the arena, including Gray and Acy.

Coming off a career year in New Orleans, where he averaged 13.9 points and 9.0 assists, Vasquez fills a need for the Raptors at the point guard position and also makes Kyle Lowry expendable in a subsequent trade. The 26-year-old Venezuelan excels in the pick-and-roll, a weak point for Casey's Raptors and could help aid the continued development of Jonas Valanciunas.

Hayes and Patterson are both capable frontcourt players that can be used situationally off the bench in Toronto. Patterson, 24, is averaging 6.9 points and 5.8 rebounds in 17 games with the Kings this season. Selected with the 14th overall pick in 2010 by Houston, Patterson can stretch the floor while Hayes, 30, provides the toughness, rebounding and veteran leadership Casey has been looking for.

Landry Fields started in Gay's place against the Lakers Sunday. He and sophomore Terrence Ross figure to see an increase in playing time without Gay - who was playing over 35 minutes a night - in the lineup.

"We're losing three great guys in my opinion," Fields said. "So it's tough but at the end of the day it's part of the business. You don't get used to it but you have to shake it off."

Acy, 23, had played in 36 games with the Raptors over the past two season - averaging 3.8 points and 2.6 rebounds - after Toronto selected him with the 37th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. Gray, who turned 27 on Saturday has been used sparingly in two-plus years with the team.

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