Report: Raptors have talked about trading Rudy Gay, being patient

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When the Toronto Raptors traded for Rudy Gay last year, some saw it as a bold and smart move for a franchise that needs a star. Others saw it as the last desperate gasp of Bryan Colangelo.

What we know is it wasn’t Masai Ujiri ‘s move, and he is the current general manager of the Raptors.

In a fantastic story on Ujiri in the National Post that looks at where he came from and how that and his basketball background influence where he might take the Raptors (you should read the entire thing), comes the tidbit Ujiri may move Gay

Sources say he has talked about moving Rudy Gay, but he has been patient. He dealt Andrea Bargnani, built a bench that may double as a self-destruct button, and prepared.

Gay will make $17.8 million this season and has a player option for next season ($19.3 million) — at age 27 he is expected to opt out, become a free agent and seek the security of a longer deal. The Raptors can offer five years, other teams four.

It’s unlikely the Raptors will offer anything near that high, and if Ujiri doesn’t want him or if he doesn’t think he can keep him, he may have to pull the trigger.

The other part of that equation is how the Raptors fair to start the season — the dynamic is different if they are in a playoff position or close to one than it does if the team is out of it and it’s time to go for lottery Ping-Pong balls.

How you feel about Gay likely says a lot about how you feel about the advanced stats movement in basketball. He is kind of the fault line. Gay’s fans will talk about the athletic guy who can create his own shot, make plays for others and has a career 18 points a game average. His detractors don’t think he’s terrible, they think he’s above average but a volume scorer — he’s averaged 15.3 shots a game to get those 18 points — who is not efficient.

Ujiri isn’t from the Daryl Morey school, but he does listen to his stats guys and he isn’t afraid to trade big names.

I have a feeling either Gay or DeMar DeRozan will get moved this season, just something for you to keep an eye on.

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell wins throwback Dunk Contest with Vince Carter tribute

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LOS ANGELES — The 2018 Dunk Contest went retro.

And it worked.

The throwbacks started with Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr. going quick-change to pay tribute to his father, the 1984 winner of the Dunk Contest.

Nance later had the best dunk of the night, but it wasn’t enough in the face of Utah’s Donovan Mitchell‘s strong and consistent night highlight by his throwback dunk — donning a Vince Carter Toronto dinosaur jersey and doing VC’s famed 360 dunk — which got Mitchell the 48 points he needed to hold-off Nance and win the contest. It was over.

“Growing up I was a big dunker,” Mitchell said. “I wasn’t really much of a basketball player. I just dunked and played defense, and I watched a lot of Vince’s videos. I’ve been seeing what he’s been doing all year at his age, which is incredible.

“So I figured, you know, at my size if I was able to get it, it would be a great dunk and a way to finish it, you know. And actually, funny story is I haven’t made that dunk in like half a year. I tried it in practice the past two days and tried it this morning, didn’t make it. Tried it last night, didn’t make it… But to be able to make it was why I was so excited.”

Earlier in the night, Mitchell had done another tribute worn a Darrell Griffith jersey — Utah’s Dr. Dunkenstien, who went to Louisville like Mitchell — for an off-the-side-of-the-backboard jumping over Kevin Hart dunk.

“You know, just knowing your history, I think, is the biggest thing,” Mitchell said of the throwbacks. “Just understanding where this game originated, I guess the OGs of the game, I guess you would call it. But just understanding. Even if it’s just dunking. Whether it’s dunking in the NBA in general, Darrell Griffith, we went to the same school in college. I know Darrell very well. Both got drafted by the Jazz, and he was an incredible player. To be able to pay homage to him meant a lot to me.”

For my money, Nance had the dunk of the night, his first in the Finals, a double off-the-backboard throwdown that you had to see on replay to get (it wasn’t as evident in the building what he had done until it was re-shown on the big screen).

It was a fun contest all night long.

Mitchell (the leader in the Rookie of the Year race) started it off brilliantly — he brought out a second backboard, and did a self-alley-oop off one to the other.

Larry Nance Jr. did his tribute to his father with his first dunk, and on his second one came from behind the backboard, going around the world, and threw it down hard. That got him into the Finals.

Oladipo missed all three of his dunks in the first round, which almost doomed his night. He, however, did a dunk wearing the Black Panther mask for his second dunk, which impressed.

Mitchell said he wanted to beat Dennis Smith Jr. because the Mavericks’ point guard had beaten him in dunk contests for years. Smith had one monster dunk, when he went between the legs and threw it down hard and got the full 50. It just wasn’t enough to get Smith to the Finals.

Nance started off the final round by bringing out his father again to throw an alley-oop to a windmill. Mitchell responded with a self-alley-oop to a windmill that was flat-out wicked. That got Mitchell a 50-46 lead after one round of the Finals.

Then Mitchell went to Vince Carter and “it was over.”

Larry Nance Jr. throws alley-oop to himself, throws alley-oop to himself (video)

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LOS ANGELES — Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. immediately motioned for the replay to be shown of this dunk. It was necessary to properly appreciate it.

Best dunk of the night.

Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest, though.

Larry Nance Jr. plays tribute to father — rock-the-cradle dunk in Suns uniform

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LOS ANGELES — Back in 1984, high-flying Larry Nance Sr. won the first NBA All-Star Dunk Contest with this set of dunks — most famously a rock-the-cradle move.

Larry Nance Jr. came into the 2018 Dunk Contest and went nostalgic — all the way back to the Suns’ throwback uniform and the same dunk.

That and a good second dunk got him into the Dunk Contest finals. In that round, Nance Sr. threw an alley-oop to his son for the windmill.

Donovan Mitchell throws alley-oop to himself – off second backboard (video)

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LOS ANGELES – Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell set a high standard with the first slam of the 2018 dunk contest.

Very creative. Very well-executed.

Looks like all that preparation paid off.