Wed. Aug 21st, 2019

Philadelphia 76ers: Rudy Gay is more than a Plan-B in free agency – Section 215

Philadelphia 76ers: Rudy Gay is more than a Plan-B in free agency  Section 215

Regardless of what happens in free agency with Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, the Philadelphia 76ers should make a play at signing combo-forward Rudy …

Regardless of what happens in free agency with Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, the Philadelphia 76ers should make a play at signing combo-forward Rudy Gay.

It’s here; it’s almost finally here. After weeks of waiting through a fairly bland NBA Finals and an even less uneventful NBA Draft, free agency is mere hours away, and the very fate of the Philadelphia 76ers franchise moving forward rests in the hands of Elton Brand.

With two of the team’s starting forwards set the test the open market and both of the key reserves (James Ennis and Mike Scott) also in-line for new deals, there are almost infinite potential possibilities of frontcourt players who could suit up for the Sixers next season.

Obviously, the goal has and should be to retain both Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler for the next four-to-five years, allowing the team to run back the starting forward tandem from their 2019 playoff run, but what if either forward decides to test the open market and take their talents elsewhere?

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Like it or not, the 76ers have to be ready for such a scenario, and need to have players on their board who can fill either spot should they need to.

My favorite of such combo forwards is none other than San Antonio Spurs swingman Rudy Gay.

Now you’d be excused if you’re not familiar with Gay’s work, as he’s played for arguably four of the least popular teams in the NBA over his career in the Memphis Grizzlies, the Toronto Raptors, the Sacramento Kings, and most recently the San Antonio Spurs, but that doesn’t mean Gay is a bad player.

Not by a long shot.

Measuring in at 6-foot-8, 230 pounds, Gay is a 3-and-D wing in every sense of the word, but one whose offensive output isn’t solely relegated to shots beyond the arc or in the paint.

Gay is a former offensive first option who’s diversified his skill set and transformed into a legitimately talented outside shooter under the watchful eye of Gregg Popovich. Often tasked with filling a Robert Covington-esque role in San Antonio’s system, Gay knocked down a career-high 40.2 percent of his shots from 3 last season.

Furthermore, Gay is one of only 13 small forwards in the NBA who had both a positive offensive and defensive RPM, and one of only 25 small forwards in the league with a positive overall Real Plus-Minus. Though he’s not the dominant forward he once was when he averaged about 20 points a game from 2007-15, Gay can still dominate as a fourth or fifth offensive option on a team that needs both a passive and active participant on the wings.

While retaining star players has to be the 76ers’ priority going into the 2019-20 season, adding a capable player like Gay who knows his role and can execute it at a high level is also valuable, especially at half the price of a max contract (Gay made $10 million last season).

Sure, Gay’s about to turn 33 and has only appeared in 19 playoff games over 13 NBA seasons, but in a lot of ways, that hunger to make one final push for a championship trophy is the exact energy the Sixers should be targeting in free agency.

Who knows, maybe he’d even be willing to sign for the mid-level option if Butler and Harris re-up; a move that would allow the team to sign him regardless of their cap situation.

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Ultimately, if the Spurs decide to look elsewhere in free agency, instead targeting a player like Bojan Bogdanovic, the Philadelphia 76ers shouldn’t hesitate to bring Rudy Gay into the fray, regardless of what Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris decide to do – he’s just too good to pass up.