“I think it’s pretty obvious what situation is going on here. At this point in my career, I think I want some kind of consistency and we don’t have that here, at all.”
-Rudy Gay, Sactown Royalty
Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay made his feelings very clear this past summer in an interview with Sactown Royalty. It’s no secret that the Kings organization is in chaos. Most people prefer to focus on DeMarcus Cousins, arguably the most dominant center in the NBA today, and his issues with the team, as he is the franchise player. However, Rudy Gay is a very important piece to this Sacramento team, as well. He’s generally known as a much more level-headed player, solid leader, and great locker room guy. So that’s why this statement is so important.
The love affair between Rudy Gay and the Sacramento Kings is over. (Sorry Sacramento fans…?)
Averaging 18.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game through 24 games played so far this a season, Gay is easily the Kings’ second best player behind Cousins. In his fourth season with the team, Gay has been an important cornerstone of the franchise since being traded to Sacramento from the Toronto Raptors in 2013. In November of 2014, he signed a three-year, $40 million contract extension with the Kings, with a player option for the fourth year. He has lived up to that price tag by delivering with his production. However, this past summer, Gay made it clear to the Kings organization that he would not be returning to Sacramento after the 2016-2017 season concluded.
Yep. The Kings are going to be losing this guy:
Rudy Gay 30 Pts Highlights | Heat vs Kings | November 1, 2016 | 2016-17 … https://t.co/sVAiNr613n
— , (@IMohammed92) November 2, 2016
So what happens now? Sacramento seems intent on forcing him to stay around, maybe hoping he will change his mind about bolting next summer if new head coach Dave Joerger can propel his squad into the playoffs for the first time since 2006 (to be clear, that’s a 10-year playoff drought, second longest playoff drought in the NBA behind the Minnesota Timberwolves). Gay himself seems to have accepted the inevitable that he’s stuck in Sacramento, and he’ll basically just have to put up or shut up.
Rudy Gay Says "I Have No Choice" About Playing For Kings, Once Called Sacramento "Basketball Hell" – https://t.co/rsM6aqMGie
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) October 21, 2016
“I wake up every day and get ready to play the next game. I’m with the Sacramento Kings. I prepare as if I’m going to be with the Sacramento Kings. I have no choice but to work for the Sacramento Kings. All the speculation is BS. Really, it’s out of my control. I’ll come here and be with my teammates and act as if I’ll be here all year.”
-Rudy Gay, per ESPN.com
We feel for you, Rudy. We really do. But what if… maybe… possibly… there was a way out? What if all the trade rumors weren’t baloney? What if you get that desired trade and could be released from your personal suffering if the Kings do get the right offer?
What are the best options as far as where Gay could be traded to and end up next? Let’s use our imaginations for a moment and explore five trade possibilities.
- Rudy Gay is a Baltimore native, so it would basically be like coming home. After not even getting a phone call with Kevin Durant this past summer, Rudy Gay would be a nice small forward consolation prize as far as hometown heroes go.
- The Wizards need another veteran wing. Washington aimed to get younger and more athletic this past summer, but part of their struggles may have been because they got a little too young, and didn’t go after players with enough experience. Even though Gay is 30, he’s still producing at a very efficient rate, and the Wizards are already on the upswing. Gay can only make the situation better. He can be a great veteran mentor to guys like Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Otto Porter, Jr.
- With the Wizards on a nice roll through the month of December, guys that had no value a month and a half ago are now proving that they could be valuable trade pieces, which would help facilitate a move to acquire Gay from the Kings.
- Just like the problems with a potential DeMarcus Cousins to DC trade, the Wizards simply don’t have enough assets to make a decent trade without giving up key pieces of their team. Sure they wouldn’t need to necessarily give up as much as they would for Boogie, but some trade would likely, at the very least, have to involve Porter and a draft pick.
- If a trade did happen, it could hurt team chemistry. As mentioned above, the Wizards have been on the upswing lately, and losing a key piece like Otto Porter, Jr., for instance, can hurt this squad’s development, if not immediately, then in the long run. Like mentioned earlier, Gay is 30, and longevity becomes an issue after a certain point. Meanwhile, guys like Porter and Oubre are still very young and hopefully have long careers ahead of them.
- The Wizards probably need to be more focused on bolstering their bench, rather than losing key starters and important pieces that have been playing well. A Rudy Gay signing just wouldn’t make sense right now when there are other issues to fix.
- The Celtics are almost there. They’ve got quality and depth. They’re hanging with the best of the best. They’ve got a great young coach in Brad Stevens that a lot of other coaches and players admire and respect. What are they missing? A few pieces that will help them contend and push them over the hump. One of those pieces is a consistent quality swingman, a role that Rudy Gay helps to fill perfectly. Moving Jae Crowder to the bench would help immensely.
- The Celtics actually have decent pieces to offer the Sacramento Kings without sacrificing too much of their depth, as well as the ability to sign a player of Gay’s caliber under their cap space after moving said pieces. They’ve also got the benefit of a pretty healthy amount of draft picks: the 2017 first round pick of the Brooklyn Nets; three 2017 second round picks from the Timberwolves, Clippers, and Cavaliers; a 2018 first round pick, also from the Nets; and possibly two 2019 first round picks from the Clippers and Grizzlies, as well as their own first round picks, all because Danny Ainge is probably a magician.
- Rudy Gay is very good, but he isn’t a superstar, which is what Boston really needs to compete in the East. He is also a great source on the offensive end, but he isn’t exactly known for his exceptional defensive prowess. The Celtics can score. Offense is not a problem. Their issues tend to come on the defensive end, especially inside the paint. So making a trade for a player that is more defensive minded would make a lot of sense. The Celtics should probably use all those assets to go after a player that is either more valuable on the defensive end, or is more of a two-way player.
Just awful defense by Rudy Gay https://t.co/XqSMMbuHYd
— Andrew Kuo (@earlboykins) January 6, 2016
- This just makes sense. Russell Westbrook may be the leading scorer and primary offensive option, and he has been impressively willing his team towards success, but there’s clearly a Kevin Durant-sized hole in the roster. Rudy Gay offers an option to take some of that scoring load off the shoulders of Westbrook, while not necessarily needing the ball to be effective on the offensive end. Also, let’s just imagine how much Westbrook’s assist numbers would go up if he started kicking out to Rudy Gay on drives.
- When Westbrook isn’t on the floor, the offense stalls. The Thunder, to put it quite simply, just need scoring, and Gay can offer that. He can be a reliable primary offensive option when playing with the second unit, and he’s another effective wing shooter that is capable of creating his own shot.
- The Thunder are a very young team, and adding Gay’s veteran leadership can only help this young team.
- Sometimes Gay does get a little bit shot-happy in tight, late game situations. We’ve already seen how that doesn’t really work well, when Westbrook tends to be the one who needs to take the shot that puts the game away. He has gotten much better this year, but it is still something to keep in mind.
- Like with the Wizards, the Thunder simply don’t have enough assets to make a decent trade for Gay right now. Reports initially surfaced that OKC was planning to move Cameron Payne in an effort to get Gay, but then Payne broke his foot and the potential deal was sabotaged. The Thunder are apparently still interested, but they simply don’t have enough to off the Kings right now to make it happen.
Me waiting on Rudy Gay to get traded to the OklahomaCityThunder like pic.twitter.com/rqRVPnSq8D
— Garrett_____O_____22 (@Garrettoffy) December 30, 2016
- Who is Miami’s consistent primary offensive offensive option? The Heat lost Dwyane Wade over the summer, so who fills that void? In comes Rudy Gay, with his scoring and offensive mojo. Dragic (if he’s still in Miami after a Rudy Gay trade – more on that later) gets another wing option to distribute to and help boost the offense. Dragic currently leads the team in scoring, but having Rudy Gay as another option would help immensely.
- Rudy Gay has gone on record saying how much he loves Miami. Ending up there might make him pretty happy. This probably has nothing to do with anybody benefiting from a trade except Gay himself, but it’s still a thing.
- Who do the Heat lose in a trade? Most likely Goran Dragic, which is a loss that they cannot afford to take. Trading Dragic for Gay does not help the Heat, and could actually place them in a worse situation.
- It would be very easy to make a direct trade here. They’ve got a guy in Brandon Knight, whose contract is almost equivalent to Rudy Gay’s contract. It’s a fairly easy trade, and Gay has more of a productive upside than Brandon Knight. If the Suns want to add a reliable scorer, this is their chance, and the Kings basically get a starter-quality guard that can somewhat replace the scoring they are losing from Gay.
- Despite previously expressing an early interest in Brandon Knight, Sacramento doesn’t seem interested anymore. But then, nobody ever really seems to know what Vlade Divac is thinking.
- The Suns already have a quality young starter at small forward in T.J. Warren. So which player gets benched? I don’t think any Suns fans or players want to see Warrens’s minutes drop.
- The Suns have a lot more issues to fix than just finding another scorer. The Phoenix organization is a mess that is going nowhere very slowly. Tossing Rudy Gay into yet another chaotic situation isn’t going to help anybody.
If a trade were to happen before the end of the season, where does Gay end up? Based on the above observations, the best bets would probably be either the Celtics or the Thunder. Those two teams serve to benefit the most from the addition of Gay, and they seem to have the best potential to work out a deal. That is, if the Kings don’t just decide to hold on to Rudy Gay for the rest of the season and make full use of his scoring abilities before letting him walk next summer.
Sorry Rudy. Guess you’ll just “have no choice but to work for the Sacramento Kings” for now.