Aside from the continue development of DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings acquisition of Rudy Gay has been the biggest game-changer in Sacramento rebuilding process. Teams like the Kings don't often get players of Rudy Gay's quality by any means other than the draft, but the Kings took advantage of his struggles in Toronto, a strong relationship between the front offices (Pete and Masai worked together in Denver), and an ownership wanting to make a splash to make the deal. There was no guarantee that the acquisition of Gay would work out or that he'd be better here than he was in Toronto, but the Kings had virtually nothing to lose by trying.
Fortunately, Rudy has fit in extremely well in Sacramento, averaging career-highs in Points (20.2), Field Goal Percentage (.484), Assists (3.1) and Player Efficiency Rating (19.8). Together with DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas, Gay is part of the only trio in the NBA that has three players averaging 20 or more points a game, and when all three have played together, the Kings have done fairly well, with a near .500 record in those games (the record is even better when all three play at least 30 minutes).
As such, Rudy faces a tough choice this summer with regards to his future. For the first time in his professional life, he'll be able to get to choose his destiny, assuming he decides to test the Free Agent waters. At 28 years old, wherever Rudy decides to sign is a place where he would likely spend the prime of his career.
In a recent interview with NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper, Rudy touched on this issue, and his thoughts about staying with the Kings:
"I'm not the age right now where I just have to be on a championship team," he says. "Right now, I'm at the age where I can still make a good team great. Rebuilding, I possibly could do that too. Those are the things I have to weigh. Do I want to be on the rebuilding side? Do I want to make a good team great?"
Wanting to feel a connection where he works and lives? "These people have been so great to me. They've been really great to me, to my family. They've been great. The coaches have all welcomed with me with open arms. Everybody in the organization. Vivek (Ranadive), he's a great owner. I think this team will be good in the future. I do think so. I'm not throwing out the notion that I will be here. They know that they have a chance of me being here."
As a Kings fan who would love to see Rudy stay, that's great to hear, even if he's very non-committal in his other answers regarding his future.
There really are quite a lot of good reasons for Gay to stay in Sacramento as well, despite the team missing the playoffs for the 8th straight season. Sacramento is the only team that can give him a five year deal. Sacramento is the only team that can pay him $19.3 million next season (should he decide to opt in to his final year and become a free agent in 2015 instead). In DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings have a potential star partner for Gay where he doesn't have to be the main guy (which was a big problem in Toronto). Finally, in just two years, the Kings will have the newest and possibly most state-of-the-art arena in the NBA to play in.
The Kings future certainly looks a lot brighter than it has in years past, but part of that is because of Rudy. He says that the Kings have been great to him, but he's been great to the Kings, and I hope that's a relationship that can continue for years to come.