Rudy Gay is an often maligned and often criticized player in this age of analytics. The Grizzlies dumped him on the Raptors as they turned their front office more toward analytics — and also to free up possessions for Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. They got better. The Raptors traded him to the Kings the following year to free up possessions for Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. They won the Atlantic Division and returned to the Playoffs unexpectedly.
Gay is just a player out of time and out of touch, it seems. A proficient, high-usage mid-range jump shooter in an age where the mid-range jumper is devalued.
Yet, this past year with the Kings, Gay found his place and found a bit of renaissance. He became startlingly efficient and and seemed to turn that narrative on its head.
He will have a full year to keep things going as Gay informed the Kings he will opt-in to the final year of his contract and give Sacramento a full year of his services before both the Kings and Gay decide their futures.
It seemed inevitable that Gay would decline his option and stay in his contract. It is almost certain that he will not be able to make the $19.3 million he is owed next year on the open market. There just is not a lot of faith that he can be a star player or even a secondary player quite yet.
But last year in his short half-season stint with the Kings, he turned in a solid performance.
After spending his career shooting 45.1 percent, he shot 48.2 percent from the floor in 55 games with the Kings. That would be a career high for the eight-year veteran. He posted a 19.6 PER with the Kings compared to a 14.7 PER with the Raptors. His field goal percentage with Toronto was a career-worst 38.8 percent.
Sacramento breathed some much-needed life into Gay’s career. He became efficient and helped his team. Sacramento seemed to be a better team with him helping guide young players like DeMarcus Cousins from the perimeter.
Sacramento has many more issues to address this summer. Biggest of which is Isaiah Thomas’ impending free agency and the use of the No. 8 overall pick in this year’s Draft. It is imperative the Kings continue to build with quality young players to restock their disappointing bench and supporting cast.
The jury is still out on Ben McLemore. And the jury remains out on Rudy Gay. Can he continue at this torrid pace after nearly an entire career of being miscast and playing above his role?
The Kings are about to find out.