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Thunder interested in trading for Rudy Gay, still

No! No! No! Not this guy! (Actually, I think it’s okay.)

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Lowe wrote about the Oklahoma City Thunder today, so it’s a good day, except maybe not, because he reports the Thunder are still looking at trading for Rudy Gay:

They remain interested in bigger wings, including Rudy Gay, sources say, in part because such a player would slide everyone down to their intended spots: Oladipo to the bench, and Andre Roberson back to defending shooting guards.

To be honest, I don’t think this is as bad of an idea as you might. Gay takes a lot of crap, but probably a little too much. His shot selection is a bit improved from what it used to be, his efficiency a healthy few percentage points up, and this season he’s shooting the three-pointer at a 42.4 percent rate. That’ll regress, but teams respect him from out there. When you’re in the ballpark of 20 points a night every year since your rookie year, teams will pay you some mind.

And the Thunder do need Gay. If they were where they’d like to be as a team, then maybe they wouldn’t have to be looking at him, but as things stand they’re low on shot creators and low on respectable three-point shooters. If there was ever someone who could maintain a usage percentage of nearly half his team’s plays on offense over a whole season, Russell Westbrook is it, but maybe you might not want him killing himself over a likely .500 season.

Big wings are generally pretty useful to have, especially guys with one-on-one game on the outside as well as in the post to punish mismatches. I wouldn’t have minded a move for Gay last year, when he’d be strictly third in the pecking order, but with any luck, Russ’ ball-dominance alone can keep the offense from growing stagnant through the kind of Rudy Gay isolations that you’re thinking of when you hear, "Thunder want to trade for Rudy Gay."

I’m not sold on this "moving Victor Oladipo to the bench" thing, or even that much on "moving Andre Roberson to shooting guard." I also don’t know what a trade for Gay might look like, but if it includes Cameron Payne, then I’m out. This is Gay’s age-30 season, he’s probably opting out at the end of the year, and the end-game is, at best, a marginally improved season finish.

I would give up something like Enes Kanter and Semaj Christon (in a three-team trade, probably, unless the Sacramento Kings want another center, which they might because they are the Sacramento Kings) for Gay and somebody like Ben McLemore or Omri Casspi. Gay’s expiring contract, provided he does opt out of his $14 million option at the end of the year, will save the Thunder some stress if they plan to re-sign Roberson. With Kanter on the books and before accounting for Roberson’s potential next contract, the Thunder are already tight up against the luxury tax threshold for next season.

That’s all moot, though. Trading for Rudy Gay is purely a moral dilemma. He’s done three and a half years in basketball hell and my god we’ve gotta save that man.