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Trade Candidate: Rudy Gay

Kyle Terada / USA Today Sports Images

Kyle Terada / USA Today Sports Images

Rudy Gay has played in the NBA since the 2006/07 season and posted steady numbers throughout his career. He still tends to leave his coaches and home fans exasperated, wondering why his multi-dimensional skills fail to translate into greater production. So it’s not surprising that Gay is apparently on the trading block for the third time in four years.

Scan the basic numbers and Gay ranks as one of the league’s top small forwards. Virtually any team would be satisfied with a player who averages 18.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals in 35.8 minutes — his career numbers.

Gay averaged a career-high 21.1 points and 3.7 assists last season, as he took a larger offensive role for a Kings team that struggled to find a consistent point guard. The acquisition of Rajon Rondo, the league’s assists leader, has led to a dip in Gay’s numbers (18.0 points, 1.7 assists) but he’s pulling down more rebounds (6.9 compared to 5.9 a year ago) as he switches back and forth between the forward spots.

In terms of ESPN’s Player Efficiency Rating, Gay is having another solid season. He ranks 10th among small forwards at 16.69. That’s down from his career best 19.46 PER last season and the 18.40 he posted in 2013-14 but still well above the league average of 15.0.

Basketball Reference’s Offensive and Defensive Box Plus/Minus ratings provide a different perspective on Gay’s effectiveness. His OBPM is 0.3, while his DBPM is 0.0 — the epitome of average. Gay earned a career-best 2.8 OBPM last season but that figure was twice as high as any of his other seasons. For his career, Gay averages a 0.5 OBPM and a 0.1 DBPM, evidence for his critics that he’s not as good as his basic numbers would suggest.

Gay doesn’t provide much of a 3-point threat, averaging one make per game while shooting 34.3% from long range. He also has a tendency to miss games with nagging injuries — he hasn’t played more than 75 games since the 2009/10 season.

As Kings beat writer Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee recently pointed out, much has changed since the Kings made him virtually untouchable in trade talks last season. He has struggled to fit into coach George Karl‘s system, Jones noted, while the team has concerns about its depth at the two-guard spot.

Any team acquiring Gay would have to view him as its starter through next season, if not 2017/18 as well, because of his contract status. He signed a three-year extension in November 2014 and is making $12.4MM this season. He’s guaranteed approximately $13.33MM next season and holds a player option for $14.26MM for the following season.

Sacramento is seeking a quality young player, or a rotation player with at least one year left on his contract, in any trade involving Gay, according to’s Marc Stein.

In January, Gay was linked in trade rumors to two other Western Conference teams, the Pelicans and Kings. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported that Sacramento refused New Orleans’ offer of shooting guard Eric Gordon and small forward Alonzo Gee.

Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops reported earlier that the Kings wanted to trade Gay for power forward Ryan Anderson, an unrestricted free agent after this season, but the Pelicans wouldn’t bite. The offer involving Gordon, who is also an unrestricted free agent after the season, came prior to the finger fracture he suffered that will keep him out of action for four to six weeks.

While an intriguing possibility for the Pelicans, who are trying to climb back into the playoff race, the potential acquisition of Gay would negatively impact the team’s cap space, as Justin Verrier of recently wrote. It remains to be seen whether the Pelicans will be buyers or sellers in this market, given their current record, and taking Gay’s contract would be a significant commitment.

Grizzlies beat writer Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commerical Appeal recently suggested that the club could improve its current roster and future outlook by reacquiring the player it traded away to the Raptors midway through the 2013/14 season. Tillery opined that Gay would bring scoring, versatility and tough defense to the perennial playoff team. Pure speculation on my part but that proposal would probably have to include one or both of their impending free agent wings, Jeff Green (making $9.45MM in his walk year) and Courtney Lee (5.675MM).

Gay has also been linked in the past to the Bulls and Clippers and, given their current injury issues, it’s not a big stretch to see a match with either of those teams. The Clippers have a hole at small forward and Gay could also play the power forward spot with Blake Griffin on the mend from a broken hand.

The Bulls’ frontcourt depth has taken some hits with the season-ending loss of Joakim Noah, along with Nikola Mirotic‘s appendectomy that will keep him out through the All-Star break. Pairing up Gay with Jimmy Butler would give the Bulls one of the strongest 1-2 punches at the wing spots in the league.

There are some strong arguments for the Kings to retain Gay. They have moved into the playoff picture and may not want to interrupt their chemistry with a big trade. They would also need a wing player or two to justify the trade, since Gay’s backup Omri Casspi has defensive limitations and, as previously pointed out, the Kings could use an upgrade at shooting guard.

As James Ham of recently reported, Gay also has a strong relationship with DeMarcus Cousins and Rondo. He was one of the principal players in recruiting Rondo as a free agent last summer.

Add all the factors together and there’s undoubtedly more trade rumors involving Gay to come this month. It’s unclear, though, whether the Kings will actually shake up their starting lineup and take that big step.

Do you think the Kings will trade Gay before this month’s deadline? Leave a comment to weigh in.

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20 thoughts on “Trade Candidate: Rudy Gay

  1. aarongill

    Maybe Lou Williams and young for gay? Gives them more depth or bass instead of young, that way lakers get a wing who can score, kings get more depth

    • Dana Gauruder

      It would probably take more than that to pry Gay away from the Kings, especially from a team within their division.

    • Depth is only good if the players are actually good. Lou Williams is a career sixth man and Nick Young is a streaky shooter who is a chucker and has little value. Williams wouldn’t be enough straight up in a trade for Gay, throwing in Young doesn’t up the value enough to make the trade worthwhile.

    • Why would the lakers trade for Gay? They want to lose, keep their top 3 pick and not surrender it to the Sixers. Swaggy P gaurantees more losses iMO.

  2. kpatcal

    While I agree that Gay is not a great fit for the Kings in the long term and struggles in Karl’s offensive system due to Gay’s panache for isolation offense, but I can’t see the Kings trading him and breaking up the relationship he has with Rondo (Kings need to re-sign him this summer) and Cousins. Getting Ryan Anderson (Sacramento area native) might get Kings fans jazzed moving into their new arena next year (if kings could re-sign him), but the Pelicans don’t seem interested. Kings are not giving him up just to give him up.

    • Dana Gauruder

      Agreed. I believe they’d only move Gay if they got a legit starter at shooting guard or small forward in return.

  3. Chuck Myron

    I think the Kings would have to obtain an immediate talent upgrade in exchange, since they’re within hailing distance of their first playoff appearance in 10 years, and I don’t think a trade partner is out there who would view Gay as enough of a fit to justify giving that sort of return to the Kings.

  4. Steve in Chicago

    Gay for Jennings straight up. Good trade both ways.

    • Dana Gauruder

      The issue with that is Jennings is in his walk year. Kings would get cap room for next season but otherwise, they’d have nothing to show for Gay after the season unless they resigned Jennings.

      • Jennings and KCP possibly.

  5. Whiteside, Winslow, McDaniels > Kings
    Howard > Heat
    Gay, Deng, Birdman > Rockets

    • How do the Kings give up one player in the deal and come back with a good center (not that they need one) and two young promising players (including a former lottery pick after one year). Howard is not worth giving up Whiteside, Winslow and Deng. And Whiteside offers more upside than Howard so again, how does that trade make any sense other unless you are either a delusional Kings fan, delusional Rockets fan or delusional Heat hater?

      • Heat have wanted Howard, that’s not some secret. Deng is an expiring contract. They already seem reluctant to want to deal with Whiteside’s b.s. Fan of none of these teams, its a trade that makes sense financially, and for their wants. Allows the Rockets to go after someone in FA next season as well.

        • Ok but in what world do the Heat give up arguably the best parts of this deal (outside of Gay) and only come away with a injury-prone, expiring contract Howard who is probably going to look for a contract upwards of $15 million a year. I don’t see Howard as a huge upgrade over Whiteside, and not nearly enough to part with Winslow after one year. Plus Miami is trying to contend, getting rid of two rotation players would only hurt the team. If you had Gay going to Miami instead of the Rockets then maybe something could happen there, but parting with Winslow after one year is a crazy idea.

          • Whiteside is a UFA, more than likely he’s not in a Heat uniform next season, and he could be viewed as just a rental in any trade package. The only trade assets the Heat have are Whiteside and Winslow. Deng and Anderson are expiring contracts. Winslow is an okay player. Its likely that Wade resigns at a lesser figure, allowing for the team to address the depth in the offseason. Not much wiggle room this year for anything other than Howard in this trade scenario though. Gay isn’t worth a Whiteside/Winslow to the Heat. Al Horford maybe, but still have to give up something, less since he’s a rental.

  6. Gay to the Bulls for
    Taj to go with cousin to strengthen the defense and tony snell someone that can hit open 3s and is a solid defender
    A point guard like rondo would only make them 2 better
    If salaries don’t match then throw in j Noah and try to get a power foward- center back to even the deal

  7. nba guy

    Spurs,kings trade

    Spurs get rudy gay 2018 2nd round pick

    heres a guy that still has some left in the tank!!! a great offensive scorer a decent defender…what not alot of people know about gay is he is a really underated passer…now i know his contract is a little out of reach for the spurs to make the trade work but if the kings are looking to get young we have a couple of players that will fit what they do!!! And i know gay is a starter in most teams but if he signs with spurs he’d be coming off the bench….

    Kings get kyle anderson,matt bonner,2017 2nd round pick and cash on top to make the trade work!!

    Kyle anderson heres a dude that will give the kings depth and scoring not to mention a great IQ player yes he is slow but he makes up for it with the way he dishs and scores a little worried on the defensive side but he is young and can learn alot under the wing of cousins..

    Matt bonner heres a player that can spread the floor and shoot lights out beyound the arc..a decent rebounder and can come off the bench

    And kings get a draft pick on top cash to make the trade work

    • Miklo916

      Your crazy

  8. Kings: Rudy Gay, Kosta Koufos
    Celtics: David Lee, Jared Sullinger, Jordan Mickey, some combination of draft assets that does not include the Brooklyn pick(s)

    • all PF’s for a SF & C … how’s that help KC … throw in Bradley and/or Turner instead of Mickey & Sullinger and maybe they bite.

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