Raptors Trade Tree: How Rudy Gay turned into Serge Ibaka

The Raptors have reportedly traded Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy to the Sacramento Kings for Chuck Hayes, Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons and Patrick Patterson.

It wasn’t supposed to be a franchise-altering move. But when, in one of Masai Ujiri’s first moves since taking over the GM job in Toronto, the Raptors dealt Rudy Gay to Sacramento in a massive seven-player deal, everything changed.

Don’t be fooled — that wasn’t Ujiri’s plan. Gay had been acquired less than a year earlier by Ujiri’s predecessor, Bryan Colangelo, in a last-ditch effort to infuse a weak roster with marketable talent. As explained in Tuesday’s trade tree (or, you know, as you surely remember), it didn’t pan out.

By Dec. 8, 2013, the Raptors had won just six of their first 18 games. Acknowledging the fact that Gay was a poor fit alongside DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, Ujiri sent him and the $37 million remaining on his contract to the Kings.

It was, by all common logic, a tank move. The 2014 draft class was a promising one, headlined by Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid. While the Raps were intent on staying competitive post-trade, those looked like tantalizing consolation prizes.

But sometimes you have to get lucky to win, and by unloading a star-level player (or close to it) in Gay and two peripheral pieces for four role players, the Raptors set an unknowing course for the most prosperous period in franchise history.


Sacramento Kings receive: Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray

Toronto Raptors receive: Grievis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Chuck Hayes

Looking at those names, Gay’s stands out like Al Pacino in an Adam Sandler movie. It’s hard to believe that the four players the Raptors got in return would help form one of the NBA’s most effective bench units, let alone have an impact that would continue to be felt today.

Let’s take a look at the repercussions of Ujiri’s Rudy Gay trade, then and now.


After the roster overhaul, the Raptors reeled off 14 wins in their next 20 games and never looked back.

The new-look Raptors improved across the board. As a team, their defensive rating jumped from 22nd in the NBA the prior season to top 10 while their net rating increased from minus-1.93 the season before to 2.89. The team finished first in the Atlantic Division and secured home-court advantage in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.


Individually, virtually every player on the roster benefited. Terrence Ross averaged over 12 points per game and shot 40 per cent from deep after he was inserted into the starting lineup post-trade. DeRozan’s scoring numbers jumped from 18 points per game the previous season to over 22, gaining confidence from being anointed the Raps clear-cut go-to scorer.

Patterson, a dangerous utility weapon, and Vasquez, the ultimate (in Bill Simmons parlance) “irrational confidence guy”, combined to average nearly 20 points per off the bench. Another newcomer, the veteran Hayes, almost instantly became a major voice in the locker room and de facto assistant coach.

It was a dream run that culminated in a franchise-record 48 regular-season wins and the Raps first playoff birth in six seasons. In the wake of the Gay trade, the Raps had found their identity as a team, the fans reclaimed their voice— louder than it had ever been— and DeRozan and Lowry emerged as a bona fide one-two punch worth building a team around.

They lost an intense seven-game series in the first-round vs. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and the Brooklyn Nets. But the message had been sent to the NBA: The Raptors were on the rise.


Of the four players the Raptors received in the trade, only one remains on the roster. We all know how it worked out with Patterson, who has solidified his status as the key reserve for the team and continued to hone his versatile game in the years since the trade. To this day he remains one of Toronto’s most important pieces — and one who will cause the front office to make some difficult decisions when his contract expires at the end of the 2016–17 season.

But let’s see what came of the other three players in the trade:


Vasquez had some great moments in a Raptors uniform. He hit clutch shots and often saw the floor at crunch-time. But after the 2015 playoff collapse to the Washington Wizards, it was clear the Raptors couldn’t — or shouldn’t — rely on numerous one-dimensional score-first guards.

In the same off-season they let Lou Williams walk in free agency, Ujiri traded Vasquez to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2015 draft and the Los Angeles Clippers‘ first-round pick in 2017. With the 46th pick in 2015, the Raptors selected Norman Powell, a player whose rapid progression over the last two seasons — along with that Clips first-round pick — allowed the team to move Ross and a first-rounder to Orlando in exchange for Serge Ibaka earlier this week.


As mentioned, Hayes played a vital role for the Raptors, even if the stat sheet didn’t tell the same story. Behind the scenes, he was a pivotal veteran presence whose experience helped the Raptors achieve goals few thought were ever possible. The Raps didn’t re-sign him when his contract was up in the summer of 2015, and Hayes eventually made his way back to the Houston Rockets, the team where he enjoyed his best seasons before joining the Raps.


John Salmons provided decent minutes for the Raptors, but it’s what the club yielded in return for him via trade that truly stands out. In late June 2014, after the playoff loss to the Nets, Salmons was dealt to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Lou Williams and the rights to a little-known prospect drafted in the first round a year earlier, Lucas Nogueira.

Williams went on to win the Sixth Man of the Year award in his lone season in Toronto before signing with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2015.

As for Nogueira, he bided his time on the Raptors bench and with the Raptors 905 in the D-League before getting an opportunity to play significant minutes behind Jonas Valanciunas this season. Nogueira has responded phenomenally, proving to be a solid backup centre and one of the NBA’s best shot-blockers.

So, to sum it up, the Raptors traded Rudy Gay and, ultimately, got Patrick Patterson, Lou Williams, Norman Powell, Lucas Nogueira and Serge Ibaka in return. Not too shabby.

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