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DeMar DeRozan And Rudy Gay Have Unfinished Business In San Antonio

DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay Have Unfinished Business in San Antonio

Ex-Raptors teammates, DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay, now reunited in San Antonio, will be a serious threat in a stacked Western Conference next season.

Four-and-a-half years ago, Raptors President Masai Ujiri decided to trade Small Forward Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings for a return that is now forgotten about.

Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons, and Chuck Hayes were all manageable role players under Head Coach Dwane Casey during their time in Toronto.

However, none of them elevated and adjusted their games as they grew older in the way that Gay has since leaving Toronto. Most believe Ujiri made the deal in order to rid Gay’s $38 Million on the books at the time. However, after acquiring Patterson and Hayes, the Raptors only saved $12 Million the following season.

After Gay, Lowry’s son's godfather had been separated from the point guard for the second time (Memphis, Toronto), DeRozan was quick to point out how the NBA is a business.

Following the trade, DeRozan was quick to stress how “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, who understood this concept five years ago, has only now gone through this for the first time, and it is still taking time for the 28-year-old to understand that it’s “part of the game and part of the business.”

Front Office’s around the league are willing to separate a city’s fans from some of their favorite players in order to put the Franchise in a better position to win, or so they think.

When the Raptors acquired Gay for Jose Calderon, someone that had invested the first seven-and-a-half seasons of their NBA career in Toronto, a destination that most players wouldn’t want to play for, there was a common belief that the Raptors would do anything in their power to try and retain the newly acquired Gay for as long as possible.

However, after playing just 51 games in a Raptors uniform, Ujiri’s staff traded away Gay.

After Toronto acquired Gay, the small forward scored two more points per game, grabbed more rebounds, and had more assists than when he was a Memphis Grizzly.

The following season, for a short period of time (18 games) Gay shot a career-low 38% from the field, and Ujiri quickly shipped him to Sacramento.

What happened next?

Gay played 55 more games that season, shot a ridiculous 48% from the floor, averaged more points, and more assists per game as a King.

When Toronto acquired Gay, Lowry was quick to mention how the UConn alum had the skills to be an All-Star caliber player for at least 5-6 seasons in Toronto. Gay didn’t even play one full season north of the border.

Instead, he decided to shine over his next two full seasons in Sacramento for a failing team that didn’t deserve his talent.

Over the course of two seasons, Gay played 34 minutes a night and somehow managed to participate in 138/164 of his team's games. Over the two seasons Gay spent in California, he constantly scored at least 18 points a night on over 45% shooting, averaged more than six rebounds, and during the 2014-15 season, averaged four assists.

An injury-riddled 2016-17 season saw Gay, who was able to string together 19 points a game on a nightly basis, ended up succumbing to a ruptured Achilles that ended his season after 30 games.

Nearly two years later, after a modest 2017-18 season in which Gay averaged 12 points and five rebounds on 47% shooting in his first year under Gregg Popovich, he will be reunited with DeRozan in San Antonio.

As I mentioned earlier, the return brought in for Gay is all but forgotten about. Nearly five years later, all signs are pointing towards the same narrative playing out with DeRozan. Acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green is a far better return on paper than Patterson and Vazquez was four-and-a-half years ago. Despite that, the chances of Leonard re-signing in Toronto are slim, and the likelihood of DeRozan’s success elevating in San Antonio is apparent.

This past weekend, DeRozan and Gay played aside each other for the first time since 2013. The two played for M.H.P. in the Drew League on Sunday and looked like they’d never stopped playing with each other since Gay’s departure from Toronto five seasons ago.

Before the game even started, before the two realized just how much chemistry they had retained despite not being teammates in quite some time, DeRozan and Gay took a video of themselves shouting out the Spurs’ loyal fans.

Additionally, during an exclusive SportsCenter interview, DeRozan was quick to admit that during his post-trade craze, he immediately phoned his “close friend” and former teammate in Rudy Gay, and the two shared laughs and excitement regarding their impending reunitement in San Antonio.

Had Gay not spent a large portion of his prime in Sacramento, and instead under Popovich, there is a reason to believe he would have a championship ring by now (2013-2014).

In Leonard’s absence last season, Gay was able to as a reserve, play a huge role in propelling San Antonio into the seventh seed in the Western Conference (47-35).

Gay now has two reigning All-NBA Second Teamers (DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge) on his side. The Spurs should be able to win more than 50 games in an increasingly competitive Western Conference.

Over 675 games with the Raptors, DeRozan averaged 20 points a game on nearly 50% shooting a night. We saw the USC alum improve and accomplish unmatched feats north of the border under Raptors Head Coaches Jay Triano and Dwane Casey. After seeing what Gay was able to accomplish since departing Toronto in his late-20’s, who’s to say that DeRozan can’t do much of the same, especially under a better coach.

More than five years ago, Gay’s first points as a Raptor came from a half-court lob from DeRozan. This time around, I wouldn��t be surprised to see DeRozan’s first points come off a pass from Gay.