How the Sacramento Kings have handled their off-season — especially letting Isaiah Thomas go to Phoenix at a reasonable salary and replacing him with the lesser Darren Collison — has confused people around the league. It’s hard to see the big picture vision.
Rudy Gay is going to stick around and see what that vision looks like, he opted into the final year of his contract and will make $19.3 million being the outside to DeMarcus Cousin’s inside for Sacramento. But that also makes him an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Whether he sticks around long term with the Kings will depend on what he sees going forward, he told the Sacramento Bee.
“I don’t want to create a big fuss like it was before, but I’m taking my time,” Gay said. “I’m open to doing things, but I really want to see where the organization is going…
“If I was going to opt out, I was definitely going to look at my options on different teams,” Gay said. “But with me opting in, I’m not saying no extension is going to happen. I’m just trying to see where we’re going as a team and how we plan on getting better.”
They are still trying to fit all the pieces together in Sacramento, to see how best the puzzle pieces they have can mesh and trying to add others (they drafted Nik Stauskas to give them shooting Ben McLemore has not yet, and the Kings have scoured the market for an affordable rim protecting four to play next to Cousins but came up empty so far).
Part of fitting it all together for Kings’ coach Mike Malone is using Gay in a variety of ways depending on the matchups.
“I think that’s the luxury you have in a guy like Rudy Gay,” Malone said. “Two, three four, he can play a lot of different positions. He can post up, he can play pick-and-roll, he can isolate and he’s a guy that has a high basketball IQ. He’s going into the season knowing he has to be a willing playmaker.”
Gay had by far his most efficient stretch of basketball ever with the Kings last season (20.1 points a game with a true shooting percentage of .567), turning heads of people around the league who viewed him as a volume shooter. The Kings need him to continue that trend, but the catch is if he does there will be far more suitors for his services next summer and the price to keep him (and difficulty of it) goes up.