Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets

Report: Rudy Gay to opt in with Kings, holding off on extension talks


Rudy Gay is getting paid on a massive, old CBA contract that is set to bring him $19.3 million next season. He had an opt-out where he could leave that money on the table (and become a free agent) for the security of a longer deal, but he was going to take a steep pay cut per year no matter where he inked a new deal.

So Gay has decided to opt-in and stay in Sacramento — where he suddenly played the most efficient basketball of his career — and collect those massive pay checks, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay will exercise his $19.3 million contract option for the 2014-15 season, but has tabled extension talks until later this summer, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Kings want to bring Gay back — they loved how he meshed with DeMarcus Cousins in coach Mike Malone’s system — and if they want until after July 1 they can talk about a four year extension, reports Wojnarowski. It will be for less than his current salary, but four years and better than $50 million at least (maybe more like $60 million) is a given. (If his efficiency numbers regress to the mean that number could fall.)

Gay averaged 20.1 points a game for the Kings, just a couple points above his career average. However, what was stunning was the sudden improvement in his efficiency — he went from a well below average true shooting percentage of 46.8 percent in Toronto to 56.7 percent with the Kings. His PER jumped from 14.7 to 19.6.

The question now is will the Kings be able to keep restricted free agent point guard Isaiah Thomas. The issue is money, with Gay opting in and accounting for the No. 8 pick the Kings have an estimated $68.5 million in salary on the books. That is above a salary cap expected to be just above $63 million and pushing a luxury tax line of $77 million. The Kings want to avoid a tax but if a team comes in and offers Thomas $8 million a year (a possibility) the Kings would have to pay the tax to keep him and round out the roster. And this is still not a roster likely to make the playoffs in the West (maybe they compete for the 7/8 seed). To keep Thomas they need a salary dump.

Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro has some work to do this summer, but keeping Gay helps give him a cornerstone. Those are the hard pieces to get.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.