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Rudy Gay, Kings, and Jay Z; The game ends

Nate Washburn

Rudy Gay, Kings, and Jay Z; The game ends

In a move that should not have surprised anyone, Rudy Gay has informed the Sacramento Kings that he will follow through with his original intention to opt-out of the final year of his three-year deal with the club. He will forgo the $14.2 million he would have earned during the 2017-18 season and test the free-agent market this summer.

Was this the smart move?

Honestly yes, and for all parties involved.

During his first eleven NBA seasons, Rudy has made it to the post-season just once. He has earned plenty of money, but the tag of “great player who never won anything” has haunted him for years and he would like to taste winning before he calls it a career. At age 31 entering the 2017-18 season, Gay should have another 2-3 very productive seasons, assuming his Achilles heals as expected. He can easily be the third man in a triple-threat offense and help push a club into contention.

He can’t do that in Sacramento within his career timetable, and thus his future in the Capital City had to come to an end.

As for the Kings, this move helps them too. First it Frees up nearly $15 million in cap space that the team can spend on players that will fit the teams rebuild plans – high-character veterans that can still play, but are willing to mentor the younger players without letting their egos get in the way. And second, try and land a young max player on the free-agent market that can produce now and grow with the other young core on the squad.

Having Gay on the team next season would have likely stunted the growth of players like Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Buddy Hield by essentially forcing them to defer their offensive games to the veteran – much like DeMarcus Cousins did last season. With no clear top dog, everyone should be able to share the load and that builds team chemistry and trust.

With two top 10 picks in the 2017 NBA draft, the Kings will be able to stockpile even more young talent for the future. And that should be their objective. Don’t try to win today as they will just get repeatedly crushed by the Golden State Warriors (e.g. Clippers and Blazers), but rather build for 2-3 years down the road when the Warriors fade and the next generation of Western Conference powerhouses are ready to claim the throne.

Rudy was a great guy to have in Sacramento for the past few years, but it was time for both parties to move on. Gay, and his new representation, Rock Nation will try and land him a new deal with a winning team, while Kings fans will remember his crazy-ass dunks and game-winners and add them to an already loaded team scrapbook

Another chapter closes…

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