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Morning Conversation: On Rudy Gay, and where the Kings go from here

Rudy Gay’s injury changes so much for the Sacramento Kings.

Kimani Okearah

Welcome to ‘Morning Conversation’, a semi-regular, not-so-original thingamajig that I’m going to try and put together every non-gameday weekday morning, time and life permitting. There are aspects of the Sacramento Kings worth discussing that rarely get discussed, but may not warrant a full-blown post. As a Kings fan living outside of Sacramento, I’m pretty isolated. Nobody in Boston wants to hear about my fleeting Kings thoughts, but maybe you do?

What now?

I don’t know where you’d rank Rudy Gay’s now torn Achilles in the pantheon of depressing Kings moments, but it’s right up there with everything else thats happened over the last decade plus. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, and it goes without saying, but we’re all pulling for as good a recovery as possible for Rudy.

I don’t think it’s in poor taste to address the ramifications of said Achilles-tear, as Rudy Gay’s Sacramento exit has been as big a part of Gay’s Sacramento narrative over the last year as anything else. I’ve said this before, but it’s a testament to how professional Rudy Gay is that you can have a year-long understanding that he is opting out of his contract this summer, and that he would prefer to be traded, and yet fans still show so much love to him because he’s been such a model citizen here.

I actually think both the Kings and Gay can be commended for how they’ve handled what could have been a truly uncomfortable situation this season. It could have been a distraction, but it really wasn’t. Some will criticize Vlade Divac for not dealing Gay sooner, I haven’t yet determined if I think that is a fair criticism, because waiting until the deadline to make your move is a common NBA practice. I can see where those people are coming from, though.

The script flipped last night. Before the Achilles tear, Gay was on track to be dealt by the trade deadline next month. Post-Achilles tear, a trade is off the table, and the Kings could find themselves in a situation where Rudy Gay actually opts in to his $14.2 million contract for next season, leaving both the Kings and Gay kind of stuck right where they are right now, a place where neither party really wants to to be.

I’m sure we’ll debate how the King should play this long-term over the coming months, but what about this season? What now?

If I had my druthers, I’d use those 34 minutes of playing time Gay’s injury opened up and hand them directly to Omri Casspi. Of course, Casspi is dealing with a minor calf injury right now, but when he returns, that position should be his to lose.

Knowing Dave Joerger, however, it’s more likely we’ll see a lot of Matt Barnes for the time being. Joerger has been playing Barnes heavy minutes all season, I don’t expect that to change with Gay out.

My ultimate hope is that the Kings drop the 8th seed charade, and start playing some of the kids. I’m not saying that they should punt on the 8th seed altogether, if they can get there with youth, god bless them. The remaining expiring contracts should be traded as soon as a reasonable offer presents itself, outside of Omri Casspi, because one of the many positive results of giving him Gay’s minutes is that it could increase his near-nothing trade value. If he can bring a decent return back at the deadline, the Kings should explore that, although Casspi has expressed his loyalty to Sacramento in the past, so if he plays and plays well, there is always the chance that he could re-sign this summer.

I’d like to see more Malachi Richardson. If they can move Anthony Tolliver or Kosta Koufos by the deadline, I’d like to see if Willie Cauley-Stein sinks or swims in an increased role. Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis should start their NBA introduction as some point as well. It’s time.

This Rudy Gay injury flat out sucks, but the Kings have no choice but to deal with it. What would you do?

PS. If anyone has any name suggests for this series, I’m all ears. I understand how painfully boring and generic ‘morning conversation’ is, and I know a lot of you are infinitely more creative than me. I’ll even toss a $10 Chipotle gift card your way if I end up using it! I saw all of your great suggestions in Tuesday’s post, and I’ll go through them all this weekend and hopefully have something flashier by next week. Thanks again.