In paying homage to Raptors GM Masai Ujiri’s dumping of Rudy Gay upon the Sacramento Kings (“in one unforeseen swoop, like a liberator arriving in occupied territory, Ujiri has altered the short and long-term trajectory of the franchise”), SportsNet’s Michael Grange carefully notes that the former Nuggets GM (above)is no stranger to blatant acts of highway robbery (ie. extracting an entire starting lineup for Carmelo Anthony). What Grange calls Ujiri’s previous “signature deal”, however, was completed with his counterpart exec, Donnie Walsh, operating with a gun to his head. What, pray tell, was Sacramento’s excuse?
How off-the-radar was the Gay trade? Even 48 hours ago sources close to the Raptors and around the NBA were saying the same thing: moving the Raptors’ $19-million man was proving so difficult and the market for a fading, high-volume shooter who has shown no ability or aptitude for meshing in an offence that didn’t revolve around him that Ujiri had basically given up trying to move him.
When news leaked out Sunday night that Gay and forward Quincy Acy were being sent to Sacramento for a quartet of role players, none of whom come with booby-trapped contracts, reaction around the league was incredulous. “Doesn’t Sacramento watch the games?” said one long-time league executive.
Even late last week sources close to the team were coming to grips with the possibility that Gay would play out his contract in Toronto hampering the team’s progress for this season and next. His presence threatened to hold the Raptors’ future hostage and after five years without the playoffs anything that delayed a proper rebuild was in some corners of the fanbase the equivalent of water torture.