The Toronto Raptors could have had Rudy Gay in 2006, but instead drafted Andrea Bargnani with the No. 1 pick overall in the NBA draft.
With Bargnani injured for much of this year and Toronto's lack of scoring from the wing a season-long problem, the Raptors have brought Gay into the fold for some desperately required offensive support.
A deal that had been percolating for several weeks finally became reality Wednesday night when the Memphis Grizzlies agreed to send their leading scorer north to Canada.
Toronto also receives Hamed Haddadi, the Grizzlies' reserve centre, as part of the deal.
The price was steep though, as the Raptors gave up fan-favourite point guard Jose Calderon along with power forward Ed Davis, Toronto's first-round draft pick (13th overall) in 2010 who was finally coming into his own this season.
The Raptors also gave up their second-round pick in this year's college draft to the Grizzlies, along with cash considerations.
The Raptors, who will likely miss the NBA playoffs for the fifth consecutive year this season, lost 93-92 on Wednesday night in Atlanta against the Hawks and Calderon left Philips Arena before the game with tears in his eyes when he learned of the trade, not yet knowing where he was headed.
"It's hard," Calderon told reporters in Atlanta. "It's been my home for eight years. I did everything possible for this team."
It was later announced that the Grizzlies had flipped the 31-year-old Spaniard to the Detroit Pistons for forwards Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince.
"This is the type of deal we have been looking for to take our team another step forwards," said Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo in a team statement. "Rudy Gay is a dynamic wing that elevates our talent level significantly."
Calderon, who had wrestled the starting point guard position back off newcomer Kyle Lowry, leaves Toronto having played the second most games in franchise history with 525. He is also the career leader in assists with 3,770, more than twice his nearest rival, Alvin Williams.
Raptors acquire Rudy Gay from Grizzlies for Calderon and Davis
The Globe and Mail | Jan 31