TORONTO -- It's Rudy Gay day at the Air Canada Centre.
Gay expressed excitement to be in a new situation, looked at as a leader and reunited with his friend Kyle Lowry. President and general manager Bryan Colangelo talked of Gay making Toronto a better, more talented team regardless of criticism of the trade due to his numbers on the season or the number of dollars remaining on his contract.
Below are selected quotes from Gay and Colangelo, as well as comments from head coach Dwane Casey and shooting guard DeMar DeRozan following Friday's shootaround:
First of all I just want to say thanks to everybody that came out today. When I heard about the trade, it was a whirlwind. I'd been in Memphis for six and a half years. When I first heard about it, the first thing I did was call Kyle Lowry. He's like a brother to me. He said, if you come here, we can do some big things. From then on I was comfortable with the whole situation. I just want to come here and try to be the hard-working veteran that this team I think needs. Obviously with losing Jose [Calderon] and Ed Davis, Jose was a vet, a class act and did a lot for this city. I'm just going to try to do half the things he did for this city. And on the court, try to do everything I know I can do. I just want to say thank you and let's go Raps.
Did you know Colangelo had tried to get you over the years?
No, no. Obviously I've had a couple of big games here, so ... [laughs]. Other than that, it's just good to be wanted. To start over in an organization where they reached out and tried to get me. I feel like I've been drafted again. I get on him because he didn't draft me, but this is almost like another drafting, almost.
Did trade rumors affect you?
I'd like to sit here and say no, it didn't wear on me, but of course it does. It's my livelihood, this is basketball, it's what I do for a living. Professionally, I tried to go out there and be the best professional I could be, but it is a lot of relief that comes from being here, talking to BC, talking to coach Casey, them reassuring me that I'm going to be comfortable here. It means a lot to me.
Did you bring a coat?
Oh ... yeah. I only have one though, so you're going to see that a lot.
What makes a good leader? Are you that guy?
It's just, what it takes to be a good leader, I think it's not just showing on the court. Off the court. Staying in front of the team and more than anything accepting when you're wrong. I think good leaders accept when they're wrong and listen to their teammates and take constructive criticism. I can take it as well as I can dish it out. I think that's what makes a good leader.
Does knowing Kyle help you adjust to Casey's system?
I don't know if it helps at all, knowing Kyle [laughs]. No, it's going to help us, me and Kyle are like brothers. Just as much as I want to see him succeed, he wants to see me succeed. To have someone in your corner like that, along with coach [Johnny] Davis, people I've been around before, it's going to be a quick transition.
Ready for that responsibility?
I was born ready.
Tiger blood. Nah, just kidding. Like I said before, I've been in situations, I've seen the other end of it. I'm coming from a winning team and I've seen the other end and I've been a part of it. I know how to win. I think that helps.
On relationship with Kyle:
I played him junior year in high school. He's from Philly, I'm from Maryland, it's like an hour-and-a-half away ... I played him, actually before that, eighth grade, in AAU. I was looking at him like, ‘Man, this kid, he is fast.' And he was looking at me like, ‘This kid is tall.'
AAU circuit, playing in the same conference in college, getting drafted to the same team, it's like, whenever you go into a situation you're looking for that one familiar face and that's always been Kyle. So, he's my best friend by default.
Do you have another level to reach?
Definitely. I think I can do it here. I think I have a lot more to give. Being in a system in Memphis, I wouldn't say it limits me, because we won a lot of games and that's what it's about, I think I definitely played into a system, a different system.
Opening comments at the presser:
Obviously we feel like Rudy immediately raises the talent level of our team. We feel like we're on our way, we have been building slowly, which is always the case, this certainly accelerates that process. That's something that we talked about early this year. It wasn't going to happen overnight, but if you look at the pieces that we had in place at the beginning of the year, as much as we're going to miss the leadership and professionalism and contributions of someone like Jose Calderon, the reality is that that contract was a valuable asset and it was intended to be used in that fashion.
On Gay being judged based on his salary:
You know, its amazing how much conversation there is and discussion about value of players and, now that analytics has taken such a front and center position in the world of sports and basketball in particular, everybody wants to be judged based on a dollar made for a dollar of output and its just not like that. Players get signed to deals with all sorts of circumstances and analytics is only one aspect of it. And rather than judge him even just by what he's doing today or this season, I really think you need to look at a body of work and maybe even go back to the point where he passed on an extension. He ended up signing a new deal when he became a restricted free agent. Memphis felt they could not lose that asset when they signed him to, obviously, a significant deal.
Once that deal [was] signed, he's a basketball player. I don't care what number is attached to him. I have to worry about that in more of a broad scope, looking at managing a roster, a salary cap, a tax level -- those things. We do use, extensively analytics. We do talk about an on-court evaluation. We do talk about a win share and what a player brings to the table. But at the end of the day I am also charged in terms of finding the top-level talent, the star-level talent. Here we have acquired a player and his number, whatever that number is, fits within our budget and our plan and I feel very comfortable going forward.
I do think it's a shame that so much focus and emphasis is put on what a player makes. I heard it on the radio today talking about a hockey player. Why worry about that? Let the team worry about that. And we will just let the players go out and play basketball or hockey in the case of what I heard today.
How the deal will impact Kyle Lowry:
I think you gotta look at just the transaction itself. By virtue of Jose going away, Kyle is immediately kind of pushed to the forefront as far as that starting guard position, that lead guard. So it's going to naturally kind of take effect that his role has immediately changed. Having some familiarity on the court with Rudy and maybe a connection and some chemistry there, that will have to develop, not only with Rudy but with everybody. I think there's a chance that you'll start to see, not necessarily by design, but just by virtue of the different skillset, a team play a little bit faster with Kyle out there and Rudy as a runner. He's a great athlete and we've got another dynamic wing to play.
We'll also -- we've taken advantage of some of the skill level of some of our players like Alan Anderson and Landry Fields and what they can bring to the four position when you play small -- let's call it an unorthodox lineup. But Rudy at 6'9 is capable of playing that small-four too. I can envision some very athletic lineups out there. Terrence Ross, DeMar, Rudy -- you can put all three together if you want to and that's a faster team than what we've been able to put on the court in recent days.
Again, I don't want to predetermine what's going to happen. I'd like to say that we're going to get out there and -- beginning hopefully tonight if we can get him in uniform -- that the team continues to play better basketball. Because we've been very competitive most of the year. We've let a lot of games slip through our fingers. Hopefully we can kind of turn the corner on some of those conclusions.
How does Gay fit with DeRozan?
It's an interesting question. I think they're both great scorers, they're athletic, they're dynamic in their approach to the game. I think one clearly is a two and one clearly is a three, but again they're both versatile. One can slide to three and one can slide to four. The fact that they're both scorers -- and I don't think people give Rudy as much credit as he should get with his ability to shoot the ball -- I think we're going to be OK.
We had a chance to acquire another dynamic wing at one point this summer and we didn't feel he was a good enough fit next to DeMar because of some of the things that were present in his skillset, but this one we feel like the two can go out and play together. And also Rudy and Terrence Ross are a nice fit.
But we're going to let that play out on the court, not on some sort of calculator. We're just going to let it play out before we predetermine something analytically. But we will look at everything as this team comes together. We'll look at the new dynamic that's present and we'll see how it progresses.
More trade calls since this went down?
It just happened two nights ago and yes I've already received at least one phone call as a quote-unquote "follow up scenario," perceived follow-up scenario if you will. There was even a team that called in the thick of the final throes of the deal that presented themselves as another available team to jump in, but anytime the next domino falls now there's new circumstances throughout the league.
But in particular with our team, yeah, I can say that we have some new circumstances and we can look to be a little bit more aggressive in other areas. Because two nights ago when I was having these discussions we didn't have Rudy Gay under contract, so yeah, our picture has changed somewhat. But we really do want to see, if possible, how this is all going to come together with the current personnel right now.
What he got from talking to Gay:
"He's a pro. He understands the situation: excited about getting to Toronto. He loves the city. He and his fiancée are excited about coming to Toronto. That's good to know and good to hear. I told him in what areas we need him, offensively and defensively. That's where we need to get better, on the defensive end."
How the team will adjust to him, will he start him:
"We'll see. That's a decision we're going to talk about and see where he is and how much he can pick up, which will be [OK] because he's a very intelligent basketball player. Again, we want to make sure we keep our rhythm. DeMar's got a good rhythm going offensively. Defensively is the area where we want to get better. That's the area where we need to keep going."
Can he take defensive attention from DeRozan?
"Yes, I would probably say. It depends on the other team's defensive philosophy, who they want to put on him and how many defenders they have. I do see that. DeMar and Rudy are a lot alike as far as their games are concerned. The fortunate thing is we run a lot of similar actions for our twos and threes as they do in Memphis. That should be a pretty good transition offensively."
On playing Gay at four:
"We got Andrea coming back, it's going to be tougher. Our small lineup has been very productive and I like our small lineup. We'll see, I think the game dictates that if we need points, we need speed on the floor. But going against a team like tonight [the Clippers] with two bruising interior players, unless they go with Lamar [Odom] at the four, we'll probably keep two bigs on the floor at the same time. And then with Andrea and Jonas coming back, we'll probably keep two bigs on the floor quite a bit. But we're not throwing the small lineup out because it's been quite effective."
Opening comments at the presser:
I'm going to be very brief because Rudy's broke my heart so many times over the years being in the same conference (as him) in Dallas. Faced him a lot, know what he can do offensively and defensively, he's a unique talent as far as being able to score the basketball, but his versatility is going to be huge for us especially down the stretch of games, gives us another option to go to in closing games. We're excited, not only is Rudy a class basketball player, he's a class person.
What it'll be like to play with Gay:
"I think it will stop me from getting doubled and getting beat up so much. I'm a good friend of Rudy. I'm excited about the whole situation. I think it's going to work out well. I think a lot of people are going to be happy. It should be fun."
What Gay will bring to the team:
"He's been in the league a long time. He's been on a playoff team. In my opinion, I always thought Rudy was an All-Star small forward. He was always one of my favorite players through college and even in the pros. He brings so much. It's Rudy Gay. There's not too much [to talk] about. He can help us out. He helps me out a lot, and vice versa."