One of the most polarizing figures in the NBA, Rudy Gay, will remain with the Sacramento Kings through to the summer of 2015 after he elected to opt in to the final year of his contract.
Entering his 9th year in the NBA, Gay has had a successful career but has been unfortunate to see his style of basketball fall out of favour with many franchise front offices.
Gay is a volume shooter, meaning his offensive game primarily consists of taking a large quantity of jump shots while not necessarily connecting on these shots at an efficient rate.
This is illustrated by the fact that Gay has never taken less than 15.0 shots per game since his 2nd year in the NBA and while his efficiency wasn’t too bad through his first 6 years, averaging over 45% from the field, his field goal percentage began to dip last season.
This drop off in efficiency, a metric that has begun to carry more and more weight around the league, saw Gay traded away from Memphis, the team that drafted him, to Toronto, where he endured another season and a half of rocky times.
However, since being traded to Sacramento last December, Gay’s game has been revitalised. During his 55 games with Sacramento he averaged a career high 48% from the field while equalling his career high scoring average from his second season with 20.1 points per game.
This news does, however, have repercussions for the Kings and their off-season options. While Gay is a good player, he’s not worth $19.3 million a year and will be receiving more than $5 million more than their franchise cornerstone DeMarcus Cousins.
This chunk of cap space that Gay is taking up may affect the Kings’ ability to re-sign their up and coming point guard Isaiah Thomas, who becomes a restricted free agent this summer. If a team comes in and offers Thomas a contract the Kings can’t match, they face losing him unless they’re willing to free up cap space through trades.
If the Kings can somehow keep a hold of Thomas, they’ll have a solid core of Cousins, Gay and Thomas around which they can build and hopefully push on with.
The Kings have not been to the play-offs in 8 seasons now and they finally have the talent to reach that point. However, in the talent packed Western Conference it will take all of these players to be on the top of their game to get there. Rudy Gay will have to keep up his resurgence should he hope to help the Kings finally return to relevance.