December 9, 2013, the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors executed a seven-player deal that sent John Salmons, Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes to Toronto in exchange for Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy.
The thought process for the Kings was to add another high-level talent with DeMarcus Cousins and hope that a little more than a half season in, Sacramento would work in persuading Gay to stay as a King. It worked, as Gay avoided another change all while the Kings changed dramatically right in front of him.
Right now, the Kings are in a desperate search to find a shooting guard that can contribute consistently to the 2016-17 team. That has been a position that has been surprisingly hard to fill for the Kings for a few seasons.
Before this issue, the Kings had the same problem at the small forward spot. The last time they had a solid and consistent small forward was Ron Artest nearly a decade ago.
Andres Nocioni, Dominic McGuire, Desmond Mason, Omri Casspi the first time here, Donte Greene, Francisco Garcia, James Johnson, Tyler Honeycutt, Derrick Williams, John Salmons, Travis Outlaw and Luc Mbah A Moute all tried to secure the small forward position in that time between Artest and Gay.
Gay arrived and immediately he became the answer at small forward. There was a time when fans chanted “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy” throughout the building while Gay was at the foul line.
His numbers have been good in Sacramento – averaging 19.3 points, six rebounds and 2.8 assists per game while shooting a career-best 49.5% from the floor. He could add to his game by becoming a more productive three-point shooter.
This year, he is healthy again and his explosiveness is back. He likely won’t be a King much longer as he expressed his desire to become a free agent next summer. He is 30 years old, he wants to win and he hasn’t done enough of that in Sacramento.
Gay is 84-132 in games that he has played with the Kings. That is a winning percentage of 38.9%. The Kings are (10-26) when Rudy doesn’t play, which is a 27.7% clip. Neither number is very good but even in just three short seasons, Gay has been through a lot.
He has been coached by Mike Malone, Ty Corbin, George Karl, and Dave Joerger in just three years. He has also played with 42 different teammates. He has played with names like: DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Rajon Rondo, Sim Bhullar, Royce White and David Stockton. He has played with two Miller’s: Quincy and Andre. He has been a part of all the changes Sacramento has been through, yet can’t get this team out of it’s decade-long funk.
We usually say, “Wait three years to evaluate draft picks and trades.” Well, we have made it to the three-year mark and certainly the Raptors have been better than the Kings.
The Raptors got better and a lot of that honestly is due to the growth of their guards DeRozan and Lowry. For the Kings, they got the best player in the deal and he is still on the team. Gay would not have come to Sacramento as a free agent, but the Kings landed him in the trade and made him feel welcomed.
We may not see Gay in Sacramento for much longer, but I can tell you I really have enjoyed watching him play. I feel like I am in the minority with this, but I also feel like he will be appreciated more when he is gone.