Rudy Gay signs an extension with the Sacramento Kings
While the Sacramento Kings were in the process of finishing off their home win against the defending champions San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, news began to trickle out that they had also come to terms with a contract extension with starting small forward Rudy Gay. The terms of the agreement, as reported first by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, is 3 years and $40 million, an average of just over $13 million a year with a player option for year three, potentially taking the contract through the 2017-2018 season.
It was always going to be an interesting test case to see what King’s management was going to do with Gay, they were hell bent on signing him this summer to usher in their new arena in 2016, and they seemed to have found a solid price to sign him for. It was always a worry that the management group, in their effort to create a winner without tanking, would overpay for Gay, clogging up cap space and flexibility that could potentially help them improve in the years to come.
However, if you can get a proven wing player in the NBA, someone with a little more ability than just a “3 and D” guy, you have a reasonably priced player with whom you might be able to attract another big name with. I won’t go as far to say that Gay is a steal for the Kings, it’s not like you are signing someone of Chandler Parsons age who can and probably will improve into his $15 million per year salary, but just the fact that he is reasonably priced into his role as #2 scorer and locker room leader is much more than can be said when the Kings traded for him almost a year ago.
Gay’s an important player for the Kings
The Kings and Gay have done things which are finally accentuating his ability as a highly athletic wing with well-rounded scoring abilities that top out at B+ level at best. In other words, if he’s your primary scorer, hide your eyes, but if he’s the #2 who sticks to a relative plan off attack of the dribble and work to get your shot as close to the rim as possible, you have the possibility of getting some very solid production.
His numbers since he’s been with the Kings is a clear indication of a better, more efficient version of Rudy Gay (65 games, 21 points per game on 47% shooting, 7 free throws, 57% true shooting and a 21 PER). A key reason being his ability to cut out the long twos that had caused basketball Twitter to sour on him the last few years. He also has brought some heady play making him the pick and roll as ball handler, with his scoring but even more so with his passing, which is essential for a team that does not have one great passer on their roster (except maybe Boogie).
Gay works well with DeMarcus ‘Boogie’ Cousins
The most important thing for long-suffering Kings fans to look at though is the chemistry that Rudy and Boogie seem to have. Once the Kings signed Boogie to his extension last summer, they were more or less tied to finding a team that could work around the big man and get him to reach the pinnacle of his endless talents. What no one foresaw was that Rudy seems to be the guy who has helped unlock the best of Boogie.
Lost among all the Gay bashing (no pun intended) over the last few years is the fact that he is one of the most respected players in the league. So much so that Stephen Curry once said three years ago that he would like to play with Gay above all other players in the league. As shocked as I still am that he uttered those words, watching Gay on the Kings this past year shows some of that, as he has seemed to bring a little more professionalism to the players and how they conduct themselves on the court among each other.
For a team and franchise that has taken an emotional roller coaster of potential relocation and all the side effects that entails, to ink someone like Gay to a smart, reasonable deal has things looking up for the franchise.