NBA trade rumors: Rudy Gay for Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva?

USA TODAY Sports

Should the Pistons send two expiring contracts to Toronto for Rudy Gay? It might make more sense than you think.

The Pistons were instrumental in helping the Toronto Raptors acquire Rudy Gay at the trade deadline last season, sending Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to the Memphis Grizzlies in a three-team deal that brought Jose Calderon to Detroit. Several months later, Joe Dumars is at it again -- this time attempting to acquire Gay for himself.

Following multiple reports earlier Tuesday that Detroit was interested in Toronto's small forward, ESPN's Brian Windhorst broke the news that Detroit's interest has extended beyond talk to an actual offer:

The Pistons have offered the Raptors the expiring contracts of Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva in an attempt to acquire Gay, league sources told ESPN.com.

Stuckey and Villanueva are both scheduled to make $8.5 million this season and Gay has two years and $37 million left on his contract. Gay averaged 19.5 points on 43 percent shooting in 33 games after a midseason trade sent him to Toronto.

Gay is a somewhat talented player who's unfortunately paid like a superstar. Then again, the same will soon be said about Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith, two free agents who have already met with the Pistons.

But while Iggy and Smith will soon sign four-year contracts worth at least $56 million, Gay only has two years left on his contract. And considering how valuable expiring contracts are in the NBA, it's certainly feasible he could play just a single season in Detroit before being flipped again, were this trade to go down. Even if he stayed both years, he's still off the books by the time Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond are due extensions.

More analysis from DBB's The Boourns, lifted from the comments of a previous post:

He’s certainly overpaid but I’d rather overpay Gay for 2 years than overpay Iggy or Smith for 4 years. Rudy is still only 26 years old and will be 28 when his contract expires. While he’s overpaid, he’s forced turnovers with 1.4 steals per game for his career, blocks shots at an average rate with just under a block a game for his career, and is an average rebounder with 6 per game for his career. If he could shoot closer to the averages he had in 2010-11 (47%/40%/80%), he’d absolutely be closer to the value of his contract than Josh Smith or Iggy ever would be.

I'm not convinced Gay will ever reach his 2010-11 level efficiency -- that was a career season, and part of his decline has been attributed to a shoulder injury suffered in 2011. And Tom Ziller, an SB Nation colleague whose basketball opinion I trust as much as anyone, has convincingly eviscerated the myth of Gay's "star power" on numerous occasions.

But the question that Dumars must answer isn't, "Is Gay a legitimate NBA superstar?" but simply, "Is Gay better than Stuckey + Chucky?" And I think he is.

I've long wanted Tom Gores to amnesty Villanueva, and high on my summer wish list was seeing Stuckey traded or waived. So in essence we're talking about two players that I'd prefer never played another minute for the Pistons vs. a 26-year-old athletic wing who fills a position of need. Yes, Gay is flawed -- as are all players on the block. But when compared to the crazy, longterm and potentially crippling contracts being handed out in free agency, he still seems like a surprisingly measured risk.

A trade for Gay is an admission that nobody in this year's free agent class is worth mortgaging the future to sign, which is hardly a controversial opinion. It may make the most sense for the Pistons to pull the trigger on the trade, see how the current roster develops and evaluate their options a year from now.

Of course, if Dumars pulls the trigger and immediately gives Gay an extension -- as Toronto was rumored to be considering before Masai Ujiri's arrival as GM -- disregard everything I just said and PANIC. But if Dumars rolls the dice on a short-term gamble, I'm more intrigued than scared by the potential trade.

Now your thoughts.

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