Storyline: Rudy Gay Free Agency

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Forward Rudy Gay has informed the Kings he still plans to opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer, according to league sources who would not speak on the record. Gay, an 11-year veteran looking to return to a playoff team, would be owed $14,263,566 in the last year of a three-year contract and has until June 10 to officially opt out of his deal.

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3 weeks ago via ESPN

The 11-year NBA veteran averaged 18.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in 30 games with the Kings last season before suffering a season-ending complete tear of his left Achilles tendon on Jan. 18 against the Indiana Pacers. Montgomery said that Gay is “ahead of schedule” as he has passed the initial rehabilitation stage, was cleared medically to begin weightlifting and is expected to be back on the court by mid-June.

Losing Gay would magnify the Kings’ hole at small forward they never could adequately fill after Gay went down with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon Jan. 18. Divac and Joerger spoke highly of Gay’s character Thursday. “His personality, when we talk about who’s going to fit on this team, he’s exactly what we’re looking for,” Divac said. The Kings would have to prove to Gay that the team is what he’s looking for, too. The Kings are in the midst of a massive youth movement, the kind of situation veterans longing to return to the postseason tend to avoid.

Gay informed the Kings before the start of the season he intended to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent. Gay said those plans could change due to the injury. He’s on course to be ready for next season but said he’ll decide what to do after an evaluation of his health and his agent’s assessment of the market. “I’m looking at where I feel most comfortable, where I can showcase my talents and win,” Gay said. “Wherever I think I can do that at, that’s the best place for me.”

When Gay was injured, he and DeMarcus Cousins were were the top players in Sacramento’s quest to end a 10-year playoff drought. Gay was lost after 40 games, and Cousins was traded to New Orleans at the All-Star break. Now the Kings’ front office is focused on the draft and the future. “It’s different, but I’ve been around the league for a long time,” Gay said. “Also I’ve been around trades, I’ve been traded, I understand how this league is.”

Gay won’t be the most popular King when opening night rolls around. After quietly asking to be moved during the offseason, Gay made it clear last week that he will opt out of his contract next summer, although he did leave a small window to return to Sacramento. “Personally, I made the decision to opt out,” Gay said. “Whether I sign here, whether I play the rest of the season, whether I even start here, it’s really not up to me. But wherever I am, I’m going to play to the best of my ability and try and do what I can.”

Rudy Gay to opt out and likely not return

Forward Rudy Gay has informed Sacramento Kings management that he plans to use his 2017 player option to become an unrestricted free agent and considers himself unlikely to negotiate a new deal to return to the franchise, league sources told The Vertical. Gay’s pledge to the Kings’ ownership and front office that he’s strongly leaning against re-signing with Sacramento is a declaration that could increase pressure on the organization to trade Gay sooner rather than later.

So far, Sacramento has shown no inclination to move Gay without a substantial package in return, league sources told The Vertical. Several teams have engaged the Kings in trade talks, but teams say those conversations have yet to find traction. Some teams have been unclear with what exactly Sacramento wants in return, and others say the asking price is too unreasonable. Nevertheless, Sacramento hasn’t ruled out trading Gay, but the team wants to compete for the playoffs, and team officials believe there are few, if any, deals available that could offer them short-term value on Gay, sources said.

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive is determined to hold on to Gay, whom he considers a vital talent with All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins as the Kings move into a new arena this season. Ranadive has told associates that he believes he can change Gay’s mind this year and persuade him to stay, league sources said. Gay’s lack of faith in ownership’s ability to create a sustainable, winning environment has strongly influenced his decision-making process, league sources told The Vertical.
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