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Sunday night NBA Grades: Rudy Gay traded to Kings, Kobe returns for Lakers

Dec 9, 2013, 12:29 AM EDT

Toronto Raptors v Houston Rockets Getty Images

Kobe Bryant returned, Rudy Gay was traded, and the Knicks were crushed. Grading a busy Sunday of NBA action:

source:  Toronto Raptors: What the Toronto Raptors have not had in recent years is a GM with a plan and financial flexibility. With this and previous trades you get a sense that GM Masai Ujiri has a plan. First, get the big contracts for guys you don’t want to build around off the roster — goodbye Andrea Bargnani and now Rudy Gay. This trade saves them $13 million in obligations next summer. It also removes the Gay/DeMar DeRozan roster duplication. If they want they can bet on DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas and whoever they can get in the draft (clearly the target) as a start for a rebuild. More than that, the Raptors can buy out John Salmons for $1 million after this season, Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson are on rookie deals, and Chuck Hayes is solid and makes $5.9 million next season. Flexibility. Plus Vasquez on the roster means they can shop Kyle Lowry hard. Can the Raptors recruit a superstar up to the north as an anchor? Maybe not. But they have picks the next couple years to chase one and the flexibility to put a good team around him. — Kurt Helin

source:  Sacramento Kings: If you judge your trade winner based on who got the best player then the Kings “won” Sunday’s trade — Rudy Gay is a quality wing. Sure, he’s a volume scorer (read: not efficient) but he puts up points and is a shot creator the Kings could use. Aaron Gray is a solid big in the middle. Kings fans will not miss John Salmons in the least, plus now they get more Isaiah Thomas. That said, after watching Gay fire up jumpers rather than feed an open Jonas Valanciunas in the paint all season, not sure if he is really a great fit with DeMarcus Cousins. Still, this is a nice move for a rebuilding Kings team. Bottom line: if Gay opts out of the $19.3 million he is due next season it is a good trade for Sacramento (it’s possible if he thinks he can get the security of four years and say $35 million). If he stays for another season it’s not bad financially (and the team likely is still lottery bound), and they could possibly move him next season. — KH

source:  Kobe Bryant: Bryant played 28 minutes in his season debut, but was in facilitator mode from the start and appeared understandably rusty offensively, which was to be somewhat expected after an eight-month absence. Bryant finished 2-of-9 from the field with nine points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and eight turnovers — a fine start for a player finding his way back into the rhythm of regular season game action after so much time missed.

source:  New York Knicks: It isn’t easy to lose by 41 points at home, but the Knicks got the job done proving yet again that tip-off times of 12 noon just aren’t their style. After briefly turning the corner by following up a nine-game losing streak by winning consecutive games by 30-plus points, New York fell behind by 25 points in the first quarter on Sunday, essentially ensuring defeat less than 12 minutes into Sunday’s contest.

  1. antistratfordian - Dec 9, 2013 at 12:40 AM

    Kobe looks like he’s been on that Rob Kardashian diet.

  2. asimonetti88 - Dec 9, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    Can we give Mike D’Antoni a D for keeping Xavier on the bench for the stretch run and only playing him 14 minutes despite him being the best player offensively on the team tonight? I understand he’s trying to rebuild the rotations with Kobe coming back, but sometimes you ride the hot hand.

    • sdlakerfan - Dec 9, 2013 at 11:51 AM

      Agree completely…why don’t they play this Xavier? Leading scorer for the Lakers in 14 mins. Also, C+ for Kobe was extremely generous. 8 Turnovers in 25 mins is more than a whole team should average – not one guy. Rusty is one thing…stupid forced passes is another. Gasol was pathetic and rightfully didn’t play the 4th qtr. They kept mentioning a bad ankle as an excuse for missing wide open 8 – 12 footers. If Gasol and Kobe don’t play they win this game. Been watching the Lakers for over 45 yrs and don’t remember ever being so frustrated with a coach’s rotations. They are so fun to watch when Gasol and Kobe aren’t in there. Hopefully Kobe will turn it around. I think Gasol is toast though – glad they didn’t extend him even though i love the guy as a person.

  3. bucrightoff - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    A little love for Amir Johnson? 32 points (14-17) and 10 boards ain’t too shabby.

  4. davidly - Dec 9, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    Oklahoma City Thunder
    : They smacked my Pacers around as if it was as easy as a private stroll in a public park, getting it done from both ends of the floor and for 48 minutes. It was especially brutal in the first half when they held Indiana to 37 points, but for visiting Indiana the beat-down didn’t end there; they won all four quarters, playing solidly right through garbage time to the end. Sure, Westbrook and Durant were dominant–a combined 25 of 40 for well-more than half of their team’s points–but don’t let those numbers fool you: this was a rock solid team effort.

  5. csbanter - Dec 9, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    The NBA should close shop in Canada. The Grizzlies (in Memphis) have done well. The Raptors is a spot where overrated players go to get Paid cha-ching. Gay is that type of player. Please do us a favor Adam Silver shut it down up North and award some other deserving U.S. city an NBA team.

    • Kurt Helin - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:14 PM

      People in the US vastly underestimate how big and passionate the Raptors fan are in Toronto.

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