Rudy Gay is finally moving on. The star forward decided to opt out of his deal with the Sacramento Kings on Monday, effectively making him an unrestricted free agent and able to sign with any team this summer. The move costs Gay a guaranteed $14.3 million he would have received if he decided to stick it out for one more year with the Kings, but the 30-year old decided to test the NBA free agency waters, instead:
Rudy Gay has officially declined to exercise his $14.3M player option by his 6/10 deadline. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
— Albert Nahmad (@AlbertNahmad) June 12, 2017
The news is a mild surprise given Gay’s 2016-17 NBA season ended in disaster, with the aging star suffering a ruptured Achilles. All reports dealing with Gay’s rehab have been positive, however, with the star forward looking at a return to the court at some point in the summer. With Gay officially becoming a free agent, his focus will focus to his recovery and soon to his new potential team.
Gay Can Play
Rudy Gay could end up being a serious bargain for the right suitor, as the seasoned veteran was averaging over 18 points and six rebounds per game for the Kings before going down with his injury. Gay offers a solid two-way presence that can score, rebound, shoot from outside and also defense. Still only 31 years old in August, Gay could either opt to latch on with a title contender for a discount price or try to re-establish himself as a go-to star with a mid-level team.
Gay’s best bet is the former, as he’s slowly exiting his prime and it’s unlikely he’ll get huge money after such a devastating injury. With most players struggling to return from Achilles injuries, it’s possible Gay may have to wait deep into the summer to get serious offers. Even then, his suitors may be somewhat limited.
While Gay may have to initially prove he can still ball and will play by his new team’s rules (he caused a distraction by wanting out of Sacramento), he has a desired skill-set and has suggested in the past that his main objective is playing for a winning club. Gay’s suitors on the surface level could make for a lengthy list, as any prospective NBA playoff team could use his size, athleticism, scoring and overall versatility.
One recurring Rudy Gay rumor in the past has been his interest in joining up with the Miami Heat. The Heat already have a solid core in Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic and will be looking to make some big moves to get their team back into the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference. Other playoff contenders that could use Gay and could end up being connected to him at some point include the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Clippers, among others.
The Clippers could be the team that realistically sticks out the most. Los Angeles still has work to do just to keep their own team intact, as Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick are all scheduled to enter free agency this summer. If the Clips could retain their core and also provide enough incentive to bring in Gay, they could suddenly take care of the small forward position, which has given them problems for years.