Despite suffering an Achilles tendon tear midway through this season, Rudy Gay has decided to opt out of his contract with the Sacramento Kings and become a Free Agent per a report from Marc Spears of ESPN. Gay was set to make $14.2 million as a King next season, but chose to bet on himself. Rudy had until an unknown future date to officially make the decision.
This move frees up a big chunk of cap space for the Kings but it also costs them their best current player, likely for nothing. The Kings were almost certainly set to trade Gay this year but never were able to due to Rudy’s unfortunate injury shortly before the trade deadline.
Gay played some of the best basketball of his career in Sacramento after playing some of his worst in Toronto. He signed an extension with the Kings after a promising start under coach Michael Malone, only for the Kings to fire Malone a few weeks later. Gay played the good soldier however but it became clear he wanted to look elsewhere after that, even going as far as to tell the Kings this past summer that he was planning on opting out. The situation changed once he got injured however, with nobody sure if Gay was willing to turn down guaranteed money.
There is some risk to this for Rudy. While he will be one of the more talented players available on the open market, he’ll also have to deal with advanced scrutiny because of the injury. This particular injury is one of the hardest to recover from, and it essentially ended Kobe Bryant’s career. Wes Matthews however, suffered that injury and still got a max contract offer from both the Mavericks and the Kings.
While it seems almost certain that Rudy Gay will not return to the Kings, the Kings themselves have expressed a willingness to bring Rudy back. At the end of season press conference, both Vlade Divac and Dave Joerger said they would like to see Rudy back, and according to ESPN, Rudy is willing to listen to offers from any team, including the Kings.
Should Rudy leave to go elsewhere however, the Kings will once again have a gaping hole at Small Forward. Gay was really the only Small Forward left on the roster after the trade deadline sent Matt Barnes and Omri Casspi elsewhere. The Kings will definitely be considering that situation when going into the draft and during Free Agency.
If Rudy Gay truly has played his last game in a Kings uniform, he will be missed. Hopefully he’s able to come back healthy and find the success that has eluded him thus far in his career.