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This may not surprise anyone, but the trade rumors swirling around Rudy Gay affected him. He said in his Toronto press conference today that he's relieved that it's behind him, and who could blame him?
James Herbert has a great live report of Rudy Gay’s Raptors presser up on the main SB Nation NBA site right now.
One thing that stuck out to me from Gay’s press conference was this little part:
Did trade rumors affect you?
I’d like to sit here and say no, it didn’t wear on me, but of course it does. It’s my livelihood, this is basketball, it’s what I do for a living. Professionally, I tried to go out there and be the best professional I could be, but it is a lot of relief that comes from being here, talking to BC, talking to coach Casey, them reassuring me that I’m going to be comfortable here. It means a lot to me.
As fans who watched everything play out since the Grizzlies’ red-hot November start, this probably isn’t surprising. Gay looked out of sorts at times, and played pretty well at others, but overall it just seemed like something was… off.
It was attributed to the death of his grandmother, and there’s no doubt that that’s weighted heavily on Rudy’s mind as he’s played since the Christmas holiday when he missed a game against the 76ers because he was travelling to see his family. But still, his demeanor has been weird, to say the least.
That said, Gay handled the rumors as a professional, and was always forthright and honest in interviews, and while he never said it didn’t bother him, he did what he had to do and just talked about playing the game. There’s no way to paint him as a complainer through all of this — the rumors swirling around the team just wouldn’t go away, and eventually he had to know that something was going to happen.
It’s good to see that Gay is being welcomed warmly in Toronto, and that he feels he’s in a good spot — with his friend, former Griz point guard Kyle Lowry, who got shipped out after losing the starting spot to Mike Conley way back when — and in a place where he can contribute. One can only hope his peace of mind returns and that good things are in his future.
Oh, and watch out for that mascot: