Depending on who you believe, it appears the Kings are making Rudy Gay available in trade talks. Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Kings and Pelicans have discussed a deal centered on Gay, but neither side is close to coming to an agreement. Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops also mentioned discussions between the Kings and Pelicans early last week.
James Ham's sources are hearing a little differently on Gay, but it doesn't sound as if he's "off" the table should the right deal come along:
Sources have downplayed Gay's availabilty, telling CSNCalifornia.com that describing him as "on the block" is an inaccurate depiction. The Kings, as all teams this time of year, are willing to listen on many fronts if they feel it makes the team better. But Gay is not actively being shopped.
The NBA's trade deadline is exactly one month away on Feb. 18th at 3 p.m. ET. This is a Kings team that still has some glaring holes but is also seeking to build some chemistry and momentum to push for a playoff spot. So why does it or doesn't it make sense that the Kings would be dangling Rudy Gay, one of their best players, in trade talks?
Why It Makes Sense
- Rudy Gay is the best trade asset the Kings have (since they're not going to trade DeMarcus Cousins). If the Kings want to make a real meaningful trade midseason, there aren't many options left available to them. The trade with Philadelphia this summer pretty much means the Kings can't trade first round picks, and I don't think they're willing to trade the promising Willie Cauley-Stein. That leaves Rudy Gay as potentially the most attractive asset for teams, as he's still one of the best offensive forwards in the league and his image has rehabilitated some during his time in Sacramento where he saw increased efficiency.
- The Kings already have a potential replacement for Rudy Gay. The emergence of Omri Casspi this season could be a reason the Kings feel Rudy is a bit expendable. Casspi is averaging 12.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and shooting 51.9% from the field to go with 47.3% from three. Trading Gay would thrust Casspi forward into a more important role.
- Rudy Gay's strengths are a bit redundant on this Kings team. Rudy Gay is a good and sometimes great offensive player. However this is a Kings team that already has a ton of offense. Trading Rudy for someone who can help in a significant area of need (like defense) might improve the team as a whole, even if the Kings end up giving up the better player in the deal.
Why It Doesn't Make Sense
- The Rajon Rondo factor. We don't know yet how important Rajon Rondo is to the Kings future plans, but given that he's one of Rudy Gay's best friends (and a likely factor in Rondo's coming to the Kings in the first place), it might not be conducive to trade Gay if keeping Rondo is an objective.
- Team Chemistry. It takes a while to get used to Karl's system and trading Rudy Gay would be a big shock to the team chemistry that has already developed given that Gay is a big part of the system. For a team in as fragile a position as they are while chasing the playoffs, it might not be worth the risk.
- He's still the team's second best player. For all the talk about trading Gay, there's still the fact that he's a very good player. While he hasn't scored as much this year as he has in the past, he's shooting better from the field than he was last season, he's rebounding at a career rate and he's also turning the ball over less than ever. He's also one of the few players on the team aside from DeMarcus Cousins that can reliably create his own shot. That's a valuable skill, and it even led to the team's late victory just last week against the Jazz.
Who knows what the Kings will do over the next month. I suspect a big factor will be just how this team performs leading up to the deadline. If the team starts playing better and making up ground on the way back to .500, major changes might not be necessary. On the other hand, should the team falter and slip, I could see a makeover coming.