Both Kings fans and the Sacramento front office let out a sigh of relief when Rudy Gay opted into his player option this summer and would be staying for at least another year. Gay had been a big success in his first year in Sacramento after coming over in a trade from Toronto. He averaged career-highs in points, field goal percentage and assists all while finally solving the seemingly endless hole at the Small Forward position.
The only thing that isn't great about Rudy so far has been his price. That aforementioned player option was worth a whopping $19.3 million, and it put the Kings in a tricky cap situation for this year and may have contributed to the team not re-signing Isaiah Thomas (although I do not think this was the main issue on that front).
Any extension for Rudy Gay is not going to be nearly as high as his current salary. Still, there's plenty of reason to believe that he'll still get a sizeable amount, and possibly be overpaid once again.
First let's take a look at some of the contracts other prominent wing players around the league received this summer:
- Lance Stephenson - 3 years, $27.4 million
- LeBron James - 2 years, $42.2 million
- Chandler Parsons - 3 years, $46.1 million
- Trevor Ariza - 4 years, $32 million
- Luol Deng - 2 years, $19.9 million
- Dwyane Wade - 2 years, $31.25 million
- Carmelo Anthony - 5 years, $124 million
- Gordon Hayward - 4 years, $62.9 million
Obviously Rudy isn't going to get LeBron or Melo money, but he's probably looking at something more than what Luol Deng received in Miami. Now Deng is a solid defensive player and Gay is not, but Gay is also younger and far more productive on offense.
One thing that could tamper down the price on Gay is the fact that he's still got a bit of a stigma about him in the league. There's a feeling he's a guy who is really talented but doesn't really contribute to winners. Now personally I think that's a little overblown considering he was part of the Memphis Grizzlies as they became good, but it's still a widely held perspective and it won't go away until he starts playing for a winner. Look at Monta Ellis, who had similar things said about him. He ended up signing for a lot less money than he was asking for initially (3 years, $25 million).
Signing an extension is a two-way process and both the Kings and Rudy would have to come to an agreement. For Rudy, the benefit is long term security but at the cost of potential freedom if he doesn't like his situation (i.e. if the Kings continue to suck). For the Kings, the benefit is also long term security, although that comes with the cost of possibly overpaying and locking in an asset that might not be as good as it was this year (see Thornton, Marcus for a recent example).
I don't doubt that the Kings are working very hard to get Rudy locked into an extension before the season begins, but if it doesn't happen don't worry. It doesn't mean Rudy is gone, it just means we'll have to try again next summer, with almost $25 million in cap space to fall back on if he does leave.