Debating the pros and cons of the Celtics pursuing a trade for Rudy Gay

The Rudy Gay to the Boston Celtics rumors have been going on for years, mainly since 2013. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, Gay has recently informed the Sacramento Kings that he is planning on opting out of his contract after this season, and is unlikely to return. It comes as no surprise that the Gay-to-Boston trade rumors have once again surfaced. It is safe to assume that Gay can be had for the right price. However, does that make trading for Gay a smart move for the Boston Celtics?

To be honest, I have never been the biggest fan of Rudy Gay. To sum up Gay as a player, he is a shoot-first, "tweener" forward who focuses almost solely on offense. The main question to consider when discussing trades for ANY player is this: Do they help get you closer to a championship? When Wojnarowski’s story first broke, and I once again began picturing Rudy Gay in Celtic green, my initial answer was no. This is probably the popular feeling among Celtics fans. However, after some critical thinking, it may not be such a bad idea after all.


Does Rudy Gay get you closer to a championship? In order to answer this question in the affirmative, Gay would have to add something to the Celtics that is currently lacking. What are our weaknesses? First off, three-point shooting! Gay is a career 34.4% three-point shooter, which puts him just about average by league standards. Therefore, his addition might be an upgrade, but I highly doubt it is a downgrade. There is always the possibility that he can do this!

Our second weakness, rebounding! If Gay was on the Celtics last year, he would have been our second-leading rebounder behind Jared Sullinger, and just ahead of Amir Johnson. Again, Gay’s addition might not be a huge upgrade to our rebounding numbers, but his presence is not going to hurt in that regards.

Where his impact would most likely be felt is on the offensive end of the court. Gay’s presence on the roster gives the Celtics a clear number two scorer. His ability to score out of isolation plays could help take some of the burden off of Isaiah Thomas, while also allowing Al Horford to be the third option, a role that might make Horford more effective.

Gay’s presence would also allow Brad Stevens to be more creative with small-ball lineups. At 6’8”, Gay is tall enough to play either forward position, and he adds a little more offensive versatility than Jae Crowder does. Now, Stevens would get the chance to play either Gay or Crowder at power forward, with the other at small forward, which could create offensive mismatches while also strengthening the power forward position (the position most likely in question heading into the season).


Does Rudy Gay get you closer to a championship? There are many ways to answer this question in the negative. First, Gay has never been a winner. He has only won one playoff series in his career (2011 with the Memphis Grizzlies) and has only been to the playoffs twice (2011 and 2012, both with the Grizzlies). The Raptors traded for him in the middle of the 2012 season, in hopes of Gay pushing their team into playoff contention. Instead, Toronto bottomed out, finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference. Since arriving in Sacramento, the team has made no real improvements, and has not gotten anywhere close to the playoffs. Could Gay’s bad luck end in Boston? Maybe! However, his track record does not suggest that he has the most positive impact on his teams.

It is also fair to question whether or not Gay would fit with the team chemistry in Boston. The Celtics' success last year was based in large part on their pass-first mentality. Gay has never shown to have this mindset, and could feel rather out of place on our unselfish roster.

Another point to mention is how Gay’s presence on this year’s roster affects future Celtics teams. If Boston trades for Gay, his minutes would definitely cut into rookie Jaylen Brown’s playing time. If Gay does not get you closer to a championship this year, would it not be counterproductive to have him eat the minutes of a player like Brown, who is expected to be a large part of the Celtics’ future?
These are all fair questions to ask.

Lastly, we should examine how much it would take to obtain Rudy Gay from the Sacramento Kings. The Nets’ picks are basically untouchable, as are Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, our two best young prospects. For salaries to match up, Amir Johnson would have to be included. Terry Rozier might be the centerpiece of a potential deal, as the Kings’ have been looking for a young point guard to base their future on. Is Rozier someone we are okay with letting go, when the return is a one-year rental that gets us no closer to a championship? There is also the possibility that a package centered around Johnson and Rozier is not enough, and the Kings would ask for draft pick compensation as well. For the right price, a more competitive roster does not hurt. Luckily, determining that price is what Danny Ainge is best at.


It would seem that Rudy Gay’s presence on the Boston Celtics’ roster would not pole-vault them over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Would he make them more competitive? Even after weighing the pros and cons, I believe he would. In conclusion, I think Gay’s future might be best as a Jamal Crawford-type bench player. Gay is a really good scorer, averaging over 18 points per game for his career. The Celtics do not have a proven bench scorer on the roster this year, a major critique of losing Evan Turner, and Gay would give them just that. While his playing time would definitely cut into Jaylen Brown’s, if Ainge can swing a trade without giving up a core rotation player or strong future asset, Gay's addition could pay off in big ways.

Photograph by Jose Luis Villegas