The more time passes, the more that fans of the Sacramento Kings wonder what will happen with Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas. During this three-part series I will break down the pros and cons of each player, and ultimately, give you the decision I would make as a Kings front office executive. So let’s get started with Part One, “Why the Sacramento Kings need Rudy Gay.”
Scarcity At The Position: Looking back on the Kings history, Sacramento has never really gathered many high profile small forwards other than Peja Stojakovic and Ron Artest, now known as Metta World Peace. You may ask, why does that matter to this situation with Rudy? Well it means that the position that all three of these players play is scarce in the NBA. Of course you have those few that can play the position, but most cannot contribute at a high level like the three listed. Rudy is unquestionable a top 10 small forward in the league today and with how difficult it is to find talent at that position, letting him go can really be a setback in the growth of this Kings team.
The Leadership: Sacramento has been looking for a veteran player like Rudy Gay. Rudy Gay has shown to have the type of mentality of he is going to show you what you should do, but also showed this season with the Kings that he does not mind being the guy to grab DeMarcus Cousins and try to talk him down. Unlike most players on this young Kings roster, Rudy Gay has had some great hardships that he had to endure during his eight-year career. He had the highs in Memphis as being their teams closer and No. 2 option offensively. He has also suffered the lows of having to sit out of the playoffs each time the Grizzlies made it, and then eventually being traded to Toronto, where he would have his worst statistical output in his career.
Now oin Sacramento, Rudy Gay has re-emerged as this young team’s veteran and once again a potent part of an offense. Through 55 games with the Kings, Rudy was been able to set career highs in his percentage numbers and have a player efficiency rating of 20. The numbers speak for themselves and with Rudy Gay being the guy that looks to show you how things need to be done, being able to point at a stat sheet–which he banned from the Toronto locker room–and show where you are most efficient, helps.
Making A Change: Seeing that this article is a debate of Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas, I believe it’s time for some actual debate. As stated above Rudy Gay came in with a resurgence for this Kings franchise, and now with the chance of having a full offseason with this team, learning the ins and outs of DeMarcus Cousins, while still learning and adding moves to his game. Isaiah Thomas has been on this team for three years now and without a doubt he has been one of the biggest fan favorite players in long time–I mean, next to Jimmer Fredette of course. But for even how fun it has been to see Isaiah Thomas show his value in this league, it has not resulted in wins for Sacramento and seeing that winning is what this new regime wants to bring back to this franchise, is it not time for some change in this franchise?
The Kings have not seen a playoff berth since the 2005-06 season, the fans of Sacramento have been waiting for change and have been waiting for the idea of winning to come back to the city. Their is no guarantee that Rudy Gay will bring this to Sacramento, but the fact is Rudy Gay is borderline All-Star talent. The NBA of today is all about getting as many stars as possible on one team to win a franchise, and although Isaiah Thomas has shown tons of promise the fact is, he has become expendable. Especially with the franchise having such praise for Ray McCallum and the rookie showing he can produce as the starter on the floor.
The Price: Rudy Gay has a player option once the offseason truly begins, and with that Rudy has the decision in his hands to which he can decided whether or not he would like to be with the Sacramento Kings next season. In this scenario we will assume that Rudy decides to stay; with that Rudy Gay will be making $19 million for just one more season with the Sacramento Kings, which will be pushing the Kings even closer to the NBA’s salary cap. This could be a huge problem for the growth of the Sacramento franchise, why? Well with no money to spend, then that means no free agents to bring in and help the growth of the team, and filling voids that the Kings need to address on their roster–defensive players, knock-down shooters, veterans.
A Cash Grab: As it has been stated many times–and many times more to come–Rudy Gay has a player option for $19 million on his contract for one more season with the Kings. The main thing you want to take away from that last sentence was the fact that his contract–if he chooses to opt in–will only be for ONE more season. The skill set of Rudy Gay is most definitely needed on this Kings team, but can you really start building around a player who could just be getting a $19 million cash crab and then be gone the next season? I suppose this “con” is left open for the judgment of you–the fans, the front office, and other analysts–to make their own decision.
There are many risks with the Kings looking to keep Rudy Gay, but the positives and the skill that Rudy brings to this franchise is too high for the team to lose. The scarcity of the position needs to be truly taken into consideration when the Kings front office are making their decision on the small forwards future in a Sacramento uniform. The fact is Gay is already a proven player in this league; he has shown he can win, be a closer, and he can also be efficient. I will be giving my judgement on what I would do during the third part of this three-part series.Vincent Miracle also writes for SacKingsNation.com, a website that provides a fans breaking news, articles, and videos on their Sacramento Kings.