Toronto Raptors Considering Shutting Down Rudy Gay for Rest of Season

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2013

Rudy Gay has been battling back problems ever since back spasms kept him out of an early March game against the Milwaukee Bucks, and now it seems as if the Toronto Raptors could be looking at shutting him down for the season.

Gay missed Saturday night's game against the New York Knicks, fueling suspicion that he could be done for the season:

Dwane Casey said today Raptors will consider shutting Rudy Gay down for the year: "That's something that will be talked about ..."

— cathalkelly (@cathalkelly) March 23, 2013

The Raptors traded for Gay back in the end of January in hopes of finding the missing piece of their offense. It's worked at times, and we've even seen the team click like crazy, putting points on the board dozens at a time.

Toronto's time with Gay started off as well as it could have hoped, as the team won six of its first eight games. However, the Raptors are 9-12 overall with Gay in the lineup, and they've won just two of their past 11 with Gay.

He's averaging 20 points, six rebounds and three assists per game for the Raptors, but that all comes while shooting just 40.2 percent from the floor and just over 25 percent from the three-point line.

Part of Toronto's decision with Rudy Gay seems steeped in what, exactly, its plans are with the team over the course of the next few seasons.

Gay is capable of producing at a certain level in the NBA.

It just seems obvious that he's not in a position to be a team's No. 1 scoring option. It gives him too much free rein, leading to a bevy of bad shots at the worst possible times.

Toronto traded for Gay in what seemed like a trial period for the forward, and the trial hasn't worked out so far.

There's a chance the Raptors won't keep him past this season, as Gay's contract runs through the end of the 2014 season with a player option for the 2015 season.

However, as recently as a few weeks back, news came out that the Raptors were planning on offering Gay a contract extension, and Gay seems enthused by the team (via Marc J. Spears, Yahoo! Sports): "I love the city. I think the team has a lot of potential. The organization is great. [Colangelo] is here and he is watching every step trying to make this team better."

So, the pros to shutting Gay down are all out there. 

With the fact that Gay seems excited to be with Toronto and Toronto seemingly ready to call him its franchise player, his health becomes a legitimate concern, as there's very little left to gain as the season goes along.

The only problem for the Raptors is that shutting Gay down and essentially tanking doesn't really help them much.

Sure, it gives them a slightly better chance at winning the draft lottery from an outside pick, but they've traded their 2013 draft pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and any pick outside of the top three will be shipped south.

Toronto could up its chances of landing one of the top three picks, but those chances aren't likely to go up more than a few percent.

So, it seems as if Toronto's decision is going to be based on how it weighs the importance of making its fans happy, potentially showing them a winning club down the stretch and the importance of Gay's complete health.