July 01, 2010
Signing Rudy Gay(notes), at age 23, to a deal that will pay him $80 million over five years? It's so bad on so many levels, and good enough on just enough levels, that I think we've about evened out, here.
Listen, there are a lot of holes in Rudy's game. He doesn't get to the line nearly as much as he should for someone with his gifts, and his hops. His defense, until last season, was absolutely terrible. It's merely adequate now, if that. He's a good enough shooter to draw defenses, though he makes fewer than one 3-pointer per game, not that great a dribbler, and a good finisher if nobody's around.
This isn't me killing him. He's a 23-year-old who has averaged around 18 points and five rebounds for every 36 minutes he's played over his career, numbers right in line with his career averages, and ... I tried. I really did.
I can't fake it. If Gay continues at his current pace of growth, this is a bad deal.
It's certainly understandable for a team like the Grizzlies to overpay to keep their own. It's definitely understandable when Adrian Wojnarowski tells you that the Grizz were freaked out at the possibility of a front-loaded contract offer from another team — something that could set Memphis' payroll afire — and quickly made a move to lock up their guy with an evened-out big deal. It's understandable when you look at Gay's age, and body. He looks like star.
But it's just not in him. Players along Gay's ilk usually improved by leaps and bounds by his age, or by 23 years of age. Rudy has more or less flatlined, if I'm honest, since his second year. And really, if you watched the guy, he only seemed to be interested and enthused last season, in that contract year.
And what did he do last season? Just under 20 points per game, but he managed to turn the ball over more than he assisted (a career-long average, it should be pointed out), he doesn't shoot the ball exceedingly well from any area, his rebounding is terrible, and he's likely to relent back to a poor defender once he takes to playing in a non-contract year.
Tom Haberstroh pointed out earlier Thursday that only one other active player (Juwan Howard(notes)) has scored as many points through his fourth year as Gay has while having an Offensive Rating (104) as low as Gay's. Now, think what you want about extended stats, but the guys you usually see piling up top Offensive Ratings are the ones making the sort of money that Gay will be making. These are your go-to, primo guys; and Gay (an inefficient offensive player) just doesn't add up.
I don't know what else to tell you. He's just not the star, or potential star, that you think he is. Or that the Grizz are paying him as, I should say, because a lot of you know what's up with Rudy Gay.
So I guess this is on Rudy Gay. We've known for over half a decade now that this guy has enough in him talent-wise to do great things. Franchise-level work, which is convenient, because he's being paid like a franchise-level player right now.
It's up to him to improve himself as a pro, to that level. Because the player that's due to sign this contract extension next week is clearly not worth it.