Revisiting the trade that changed the Raptors forever

Rudy Gay
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The Toronto Raptors traded Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy, and Aaron Gray to the Sacramento Kings for Patrick Patterson, John Salmons, Chuck Hayes, and Greivis Vasquez on Dec. 8, 2013. The deal that was made a decade ago changed the franchise forever.

On paper, it doesn’t look like a franchise-changing trade. But if you look at the deal, you’ll see how much it changed the Raptors forever. Yes, Sacramento got the best player in the trade, but Toronto got four players who fit better with the team than Gay, Acy, and Gray.

watch around the 29-minute mark

Why is this trade so important in the history of the Toronto Raptors?

Before the trade, the Raptors were 6–12. After the trade, they were 42-22. Toronto finished the 2013–14 season third in the Eastern Conference with a record of 48–34. They made the playoffs that season. But the Raptors were eliminated in the first round by the Brooklyn Nets. Despite losing in the first round, this showed that the future was bright for Toronto.

Since the 2013–14 season, the Raptors have gone to the playoffs seven years in a row. This includes five straight second-round appearances, two conference final appearances, and a trip to the NBA Finals, where they won the championship. Toronto also broke their franchise record in wins in almost every season during that time.

The 2014 playoffs were the first time Toronto had been in the playoffs since 2008. Before the Gay trade, Toronto only made it to the playoffs five times in their franchise history. And they only went beyond the first round once.

Fun fact

Vasquez, who was in this deal, was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks at the 2015 NBA draft for a 2015 second-round pick, which became Norman Powell, and a 2017 first-round pick, which became O.G. Anunoby.

Powell was a key player on the 2019 championship team, while Anunoby remains a big part of the Raptors’ future. Powell was eventually traded at the 2021 NBA trade deadline to the Portland Trail Blazers for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood. Trent is the sixth man on the current Raptors team, while Hood was waived in the 2021 offseason.

What was the original goal for making the Rudy Gay trade?

So, it’s clear that the trade was a big win for Toronto. But you know what’s funny? Masai Ujiri only made the trade to tank the season. After the 6-12 start, the Raptors decided to blow up the team. There were reports that everyone on the roster was available except for Jonas Valanciunas.

The goal after making that trade was to tank for the chance to draft Andrew Wiggins. At that time, Wiggins was viewed as a franchise-changing player. The 2014 draft class included Wiggins, Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Aaron Gordon, Zach LaVine, Clint Capela, T.J. Warren, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, etc. So, it was a good idea to tank that year.

The time when Lowry was almost a New York Knick

The Raptors tried to trade Kyle Lowry to the New York Knicks so they could embrace the rebuild. The proposed trade was Lowry to the Knicks for Metta World Peace, Raymond Felton, and a future first-round pick. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert were also discussed, but New York didn’t want to give up either of those players.

The trade was pretty much done, but the owner of the Knick James Dolan vetoed it due to the fear of giving up too much. He has a history with Ujiri. Ujiri was the general manager of the Denver Nuggets when they made the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2011. He also made the Andrea Bargnani trade in the summer of 2013.

New York gave up a lot to make those two trades. So, it was understandable why Dolan didn’t accept the trade at the time. Once the Knicks trade didn’t happen, the Raptors were talking to other teams about a potential Lowry trade until the Raptors started to win.

And when they started to win more games, the front office decided to run with this team for the rest of the season and beyond, making a few adjustments. Lowry was a big reason why the Raptors were competing in the playoffs every year for seven years straight. That’s why many fans consider Lowry to be the greatest Raptor of all time.

The Rudy Gay deal is arguably one of the greatest trades in franchise history. The trade was supposed to be the start of a rebuild. Instead, it was the start of a championship run. And because of this trade, Raptor fans should be celebrating the tenth anniversary of this deal today.

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