The Sacramento Kings want Rudy Gay back next season. But first, they have to wait for him to decide on a player option which would net him $19.3 million next season. Either way, the organization made their desire to keep Gay in the fold for the long run very clear on Tuesday.
Via Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, Gay arrived in Sacramento on Tuesday night to meet with the front office:
Gay arrived Tuesday afternoon at Sacramento International Airport, where he was greeted by Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro and coach Michael Malone. Dozens of fans brought signs and chanted “Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!” as Gay posed for photos before leaving in an SUV with Malone and D’Alessandro.
“There’s no pressure here,” D’Alessandro said before Gay arrived. “It’s not a pressure situation. It’s got to work. It’s got to work for him, it’s got to work for us, and we’re looking for a really good, just honest conversation, and hopefully, it turns out the way we expect.”
The Kings have made it clear even if Gay opts out of his contract, they want to negotiate a long-term deal to keep him in Sacramento. Gay has until June 30th to make a decision on his player option. By opting in, he will earn a higher salary next season than he likely will under a new deal. It would be hard to see Gay receiving $19.3 million per season given the new financial landscape of the league since the last collective bargaining agreement.
Opting out will also allow him to secure a long-term contract, and after going from Memphis to Toronto to Sacramento in the last two seasons, stability might be something Gay prefers sooner rather than later. Opting out also means other teams can make him an offer, and despite some apprehension at his inefficiency from the field, a rival GM might extend an offer in order to make a splash if they miss out on more heralded free agents this summer.
Gay has been one of the most roundly criticized players in the league. The combination of a high usage rate and low shooting efficiency draws most of analyst ire around the league. Except the Kings saw a different player in the 55 games he spent in Sacramento last season. Gay shot 48.2 percent from the field, a significant uptick from the 38.8 percent he was sporting in Toronto prior to the trade.
There are other factors which would make it more desirable for Sacramento to finish negotiations with Gay as soon as possible. Their point guard Isaiah Thomas is 25 years old, and coming off a season in which he averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per game. Thomas is a restricted free agent on July 1st, which means the Kings can match any other offer, but they won’t know the overall financial commitment to the team next season until they have Gay’s cap number locked in.
In Gay, Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings would have three relatively young players to build around and move forward with. The first step will be resolving the contract situation with Gay. It appears both sides see a fit in Sacramento, and will work diligently towards a resolution that works for the team and the player.
Will Gay opt-in, or opt-out and renegotiate a long-term deal with Sacramento?
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