Much like Carlos Boozer, Rudy Gay stands to make a lot of money this year because of someone else.
It doesn't really matter that the chances of a LeBron James or Dwyane Wade departure seem to fluctuate like the tide; whether these icons move or not, they are
setting the table for those players who might be the headliners in any other offseason.
Rudy Gay is a bit of a value enigma for this coming summer. He is an extremely talented scorer, who has blossomed on a slowly up-and-coming team.
His 20 points per game are probably made more impressive by his young age (23), and many feel his defensive limitations might be improved with experience. Either way, he has a number of teams that won't feel too bad about making him "Plan B" in their free agency plans.
But what is Rudy Gay's true ceiling?
This is where many GMs begin to balk a little bit. Small forwards who can put up close to 20 points, six rebounds, and a pair of assists per game are actually one of the easier commodities to find.
Some, like Luol Deng, Shawn Marion, and Corey Maggette, were paid once upon a time to carry teams as a franchise leader, only to disappoint as merely second-tier players. Others, like Caron Butler and Richard Jefferson, have always been correctly perceived as supporting pieces.
Yet, for every question raised by an Andre Iguodala or Danny Granger, you find a Paul Pierce, Carmelo Anthony, or Joe Johnson who has definitively proved a small forward can lead a team to success—as long as an adequate supporting cast is also provided.
So where does Rudy Gay fit?
No one knows the answer yet, but as usual,
there will be a lot of teams lining up with a lot of dollars to find out. Gay's chances to cash in before the Collective Bargaining Agreement cashes out are also heightened by the fact that a number of hyperventilating franchises may need him as either a consolation prize or co-star.
With most of the biggest names in free agency out of the way (archived here) , we now begin a destination tour for the less hyped, but still important, free agents of 2010.
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