Storyline: Rudy Gay Injury

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New Spurs forward Rudy Gay made the trip to Sacramento for the team’s preseason opener tonight. He will not play in the game against his old team, however. Gay, 31, is on the mend after suffering an Achilles tendon tear in a game with Sacramento on Jan. 18, and coach Gregg Popovich is intent handling the Spurs’ new addition with care. “That’s just what I do,” Popovich said. “I’m more conservative. I’m probably going to bring him along more slowly than he’s going to want to.” After nearly nine months of rehab, Gay is champing at the bit to get back on the floor. Doctors have cleared him to play. He still has to convince his new coach. “We’ve already had those conversations in camp,” Gay said. “He’s trying to pull me back and I’m like, ‘No coach, I’m a basketball player. That’s what I’m here for.’

Gay’s health in the season to come will go a long way toward determining whether he can get his career back on track in his 12th season. It has been nearly eight months since that night in January when Gay collapsed during a game against Indiana, his left Achilles tendon in tatters. He opted out of $14 million in Sacramento to ink a two-year, $17 million deal with the Spurs. His first San Antonio training camp begins Sept. 26. Gay says he is ready. He was been cleared for all basketball activities. He has been working out all summer and does not not expect to miss time once practices begin.

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.

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.”

The news couldn’t be any worse for the Sacramento Kings. A 106-102 loss to the Indiana Pacers sent the Kings to their sixth loss in seven tries on the homestand. But an injury to Rudy Gay had the locker room as quiet as it’s ever been. “Somber, very somber,” Garrett Temple said of the team’s mood. “We have a team of good character guys. Guys that have the right mindset and it’s tough to see people get hurt, especially a guy like Rudy. I’m going to be praying for him and hopefully he can bounce back stronger than before.”
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February 24, 2018 | 10:01 pm EST Update