Rudy Gay

Rudy Gay Talks Health, DeRozan, Spurs’ Expectations

Although he was able to get back on the court last season after tearing his Achilles during the 2016/17 campaign, Rudy Gay never seemed to be fully at 100%. He was nagged by Achilles and heel issues, appearing in just 57 games in his first season for the Spurs.

Having re-signed with San Antonio though, Gay is feeling better as the 2018/19 season approaches, telling Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News that “everything is clicking” and that he feels “athletic again.”

Gay spoke a little more about his health and also touched on several other Spurs-related topics in his conversation with Orsborn, so let’s round up a few highlights from the veteran forward…

On his offseason workouts:

“I’ve been working hard, man. I lost about five pounds. Last year was a little bit of a struggle for me, so I tried to alleviate that by taking the weight off my feet by losing a couple of pounds through working out and eating better. It’s now or never right now for me.”

On how DeMar DeRozan, unhappy about being traded by the Raptors, will fit right in with the Spurs:

“That’s the thing about this whole team – everybody has a chip on his shoulder. His is just more publicized. But, look, I’m healthy (and have something to prove), LaMarcus (Aldridge) always finds someway to have a chip on his shoulder. Jakob (Poeltl) wants to prove he can be a great player. DJ (Dejounte Murray) has a chip on his shoulder because he wants to be known as one of the best at his position.

“I think we have a great mix of guys, a great basketball team. (Spurs GM) R.C. (Buford) put together a great team. It will be fun to watch.”

On his quick decision to re-sign with the Spurs in free agency:

“I always knew I wanted to come back. When I opted out, I felt like I had options. But the best option was to just stay where I was at.”

On modest expectations for the Spurs, who have an over/under of 43.5 wins on the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas:

“Nobody expects us to be good. I don’t know why. … Why were we expected to be so much better last year? Because Kawhi (Leonard) may have come back? He didn’t, and we were still a playoff team, really a couple of wins away from being a third or fourth seed in the West.

“They don’t have many expectations for us. But the Spurs always exceed the expectations. Don’t expect anything less this year.”

Southwest Notes: Ginobili, Gay, A. Davis, Powell

Manu Ginobili will likely play at least one more season, but it won’t be because he’s chasing another title, writes Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News. Ginobili has been to the playoffs in all of his 16 seasons with the Spurs, but that’s no longer a guarantee with Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker both gone. Instead, like fellow elder statesmen Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, Ginobili is motivated by his love for the game.

San Antonio expects Ginobili to make an official announcement soon on social media, but Finger notes that he dropped fewer hints about retirement during 2017/18 than he did in past seasons. He is under contract for one more season at $2.5MM.

Finger cites an old quote from Ginobili, who turned 41 today, that “the outcome isn’t everything.” A desire to keep playing, rather than a quest to add to his legacy, will be the prime motivator if he decides to return to the NBA.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Re-signing Rudy Gay for another season at $10MM was the Spurs‘ best move in free agency, according to Rob Wolkenbrod of Forbes. The addition of DeMar DeRozan should take some of the scoring load off Gay, who ranked second on the team in points per game last season. He also gets another year to prove he’s fully recovered from a 2017 Achilles injury before testing the market again next summer.
  • Pelicans star Anthony Davis chose not to appeal to GM Dell Demps to keep free agent DeMarcus Cousins, tweets Andrew Doak of WWL-TV in New Orleans. An endorsement from Davis would have carried some weight, but he liked the way the team played — and the locker room atmosphere — better without Cousins, Doak adds.
  • Dwight Powell believes a playoff spot is realistic for the Mavericks in light of their offseason moves, relays Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Powell became a big fan of first-round pick Luka Doncic after working out with him during summer league play in Las Vegas. “He’s a great kid and you can tell he knows the game and can shoot,” Powell said. “And he’s bigger than I expected. You hear about some [international] guys saying they are such-and-such a height and they come over and it’s not necessarily the case. But he’s a big boy. He’s going to do well for us. He’s going to have a lot of ability to see the floor for us and take command of the offense when it’s time.”

DeMar DeRozan Discusses Trade, Ujiri, Raptors

Outside of some cryptic – and not-so-cryptic – social media posts, DeMar DeRozan had been relatively quiet over the last week since word broke that he’d be traded from the Raptors to the Spurs. However, various reports, along with those social media posts, suggested that DeRozan wasn’t thrilled with the deal, which caught him by surprise.

ESPN’s Chris Haynes caught up with the longtime Toronto star to discuss the deal and to address the perception that DeRozan had been told he wouldn’t be traded. The conversation is a good one, and is worth checking out in full for a number of interesting stories and comments from DeRozan, who talked about his place in Raptors history, his expectations for playing under Gregg Popovich, and how friends like Kyle Lowry and Drake reacted to the deal.

Here are a few of the other highlights from DeRozan’s conversation with Haynes:

On Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri saying of the previous iteration of the Raptors, “We kept giving them a chance and giving them a chance. At some point, we have to do something different”:

“I mean, when you say ‘them,’ that’s kind of frustrating. Like, who is ‘them’? You put the blame on just me and (Dwane) Casey? Because obviously we are the only two who had to suffer from the loss that we had in the Cleveland series.

“But it’s only one team that we lost to in the postseason — and that team went to the Finals every single year. With an opportunity approaching itself, my mindset and the rest of my teammates’ mindset was the only guy who was in the way of making that happen (LeBron James) leaves. Now we got a great opportunity to do something that we haven’t been able to do.

“At the end of the day, I gave everything I had to that team. And it showed, it showed in the progress we made as a team and me as an individual. So when you put that out there saying ‘gave them chances’ and ‘I have to do something’… It’s B.S. to me.”

On how he felt he was treated by Ujiri and the organization:

“I felt like I wasn’t treated with what I sacrificed for nine years, with the respect that I thought I deserved. By just giving me the say so of letting me know something’s going on or it’s a chance. That’s all I wanted. That’s all I wanted. I’m not saying, ‘You don’t have to trade me’ or … just let me know something is going on because I sacrificed everything. Just let me know. That’s all I asked. Everybody know I’m the most low-maintenance person in the world. Just let me know, so I can prepare myself for whatever my next chapter is, and I didn’t get that.”

On whether DeRozan had asked the team if he’d be traded:

“I asked, ‘Was I going to be traded? Was there anything going on, if it was a chance I’d be traded?’ And on multiple occasions it was, ‘No, it was nothing.’ If it is, then let the agent know or me know.”

On talking to Spurs forward Rudy Gay shortly after finding out about the trade:

“I was upset. And I called him, like, ‘Man, dude’s just traded me.’ Rudy was like ‘What? To who?’ And I was like ‘To y’all.’ He started laughing. He said ‘Look, I don’t mean to lie, but I got my boy back. You gon’ be aight, man. don’t worry about it.’ I was like, ‘Man, I shouldn’t have called you. I should have waited until it came out and you called me.’ It was cool to be able to call somebody that’s close in my life that’s on the Spurs too. So he made it easy.”

Contract Details: Smart, Gay, Grant, Ilyasova

Marcus Smart‘s new deal with the Celtics will increase in value each season, beginning with an approximate salary of $11.7MM in 2018/19 and ending with a salary of nearly $14.4MM in 2021/22, per Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

The total value of the contract is $51,999,900, $100 shy of the reported value of $52MM, and it is fully guaranteed with no options.

Here are a few more details on contracts signed this summer, courtesy of Pincus:

  • The Spurs agreement with Rudy Gay is worth $10,087,200, the highest allowable salary San Antonio was permitted to pay him via his non-Bird rights (Twitter link).
  • Ersan Ilyasova‘s new deal with the Bucks will pay him an even $7MM over three seasons, with a yet-to-be determined guarantee amount and date on year three.
  • The agreement between Jerami Grant and the Thunder is worth just shy of $27.4MM, with a player option valued at approximately $9.3MM for the 2020/21 season.

Spurs Re-Sign Rudy Gay

JULY 11: The Spurs have officially re-signed Gay, the team announced today in a press release.

JUNE 30: Veteran forward Rudy Gay has committed to re-sign with the Spurs on a one-year, $10MM deal, league sources tell Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Gay winds up with a modest raise after opting out of a contract that would have paid him $8,826,300 next season. Factoring in a 20% raise from his $8,406,000 salary for 2017/18, the Spurs could go as high as $10,087,200 for Gay’s next deal using his Non-Bird rights.

The 31-year-old forward assumed a reduced role in his first year in San Antonio, but was able to bounce back from a torn left Achilles tendon he suffered in Sacramento. Gay managed 57 games for the Spurs, averaging 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per night.

Another year removed from that Achilles injury, Gay could be in for a larger role in San Antonio for the 2018/19 season, particularly if trade candidate Kawhi Leonard doesn’t return. The Spurs’ other key small forward, Kyle Anderson, is also no lock to return, though the team is expected to make an effort to re-sign the restricted free agent.

Having presumably used Gay’s Non-Bird rights to strike a deal with the veteran forward, the Spurs will still have their mid-level exception available.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Spurs, Morey, Gasol

Despite perhaps winning the 2018 NBA Draft with the selection of some pundits’ top-ranked player, Luka Doncic, Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram doesn’t see the Mavericks making the playoffs next season, writing that Dallas will likely end up picking in the NBA Draft Lottery for a second straight summer in 2019.

The projected lineup of Dennis Smith Jr., the aforementioned rookie Doncic, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki and a center-to-be-named-later, while an improvement, is not enough to crack the top eight of Western Conference, in Engel’s opinion, even if that new center is potential free agent DeAndre Jordan or free-agent-to-be DeMarcus Cousins.

Despite the hype surrounding Doncic and his experience playing with professionals overseas, he will still be an NBA rookie next season, and as Mavericks’ president Donnie Nelson puts it, that means “he’s going to get his rear end handed to him.” Add in the fact that Smith Jr. is also still only 20 years old, and you’re left with one of the youngest – albeit most talented – backcourts in the NBA, which is probably not enough in the deep Western Conference.

There’s more from the Southwest Division.

  • With Danny Green choosing to opt in for the 2018/19 season, the Spurs are situated to be near the projected salary cap line of $101MM at the beginning of free agency, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Marks adds that in addition to renouncing free agents Tony Parker and Rudy Gay, the Spurs would also likely need to unload some heftier contracts like those belonging to Green and Pau Gasol in order to create cap room this summer.
  • Per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey said the team wasn’t really close to making a deal to move up in last week’s NBA Draft, but that there was an opportunity to move into the No. 20 to No. 25 range.
  • Pau Gasol is doubtful that the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard can mend their relationship, telling EpDeportes, via Jeff Garcia of Spurs Zone, “I do not know if the situation can be rectified after Kawhi’s request to leave, I do not know if a multi-million dollar offer would fix it, he has not talked to him for a long time, he’s a very reserved player.”

Spurs’ Rudy Gay To Decline Player Option

Spurs forward Rudy Gay will turn down his 2018/19 player option, electing to become a free agent on July 1, reports ESPN’s Chris Haynes. The option would have paid Gay a salary of $8,826,300 for next season.

[RELATED: NBA Player Option Decisions For 2018/19]

Gay, whose 2016/17 campaign ended early due to an Achilles injury, made a speedy recovery and was ready to go for the Spurs in the fall after signing a two-year, $17.2MM deal with the club. However, he was nagged by Achilles and heel problems during the winter, limiting him to 57 regular season games — he never seemed fully like his old self.

“A lot of times, I will-powered through games, will-powered through practices,” Gay told Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News in April. “I didn’t feel like there was anything worse I can go through (than the Achilles tendon injury).”

In that conversation with McDonald earlier in the spring, the veteran reportedly sounded “genuinely torn” over whether or not to pick up his option, but it makes some sense that he’d seek a new deal on the open market. While Gay missed time with health problems and averaged a career-low 21.6 minutes per contest, his per-minute numbers were solid, as he posted 11.5 PPG and 5.1 RPG with a .471/.314/.772 shooting line for the season.

Additionally, Gay may not want to lock himself into another season with the Spurs as long as the team’s roster remains in flux. In addition to Kawhi Leonard‘s reported desire to leave San Antonio, Danny Green and Joffrey Lauvergne also have player-option decisions to make, Tony Parker and Kyle Anderson will be free agents, and Manu Ginobili is believed to be considering retirement.

Still, Gay is no lock to get a raise on his $8.8MM+ player-option salary. The mid-level exception for 2018/19 figures to be worth a little less than that, so in order to top that salary, Gay would probably have to either negotiate a new deal with San Antonio or find a team with cap room willing to make him a sizable offer.

If Gay ultimately settles for a lesser salary for next season, it would be the second consecutive summer that he has taken a pay cut. In 2017, he declined his $14MM+ option with the Kings before signing that new deal with the Spurs that paid him approximately $8.4MM in 2017/18.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: NBA Africa Game, Global Camp, Upshaw

Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan and Sixers center Joel Embiid will headline the rosters in this summer’s NBA Africa Game, the league announced today. The event, which will take place on Saturday, August 4 in Pretoria, South Africa, will feature a Team Africa vs. Team World format, with Cameroon native Embiid heading Team Africa and DeRozan representing Team World.

Joining Embiid on Team Africa will be fellow NBAers Al-Farouq Aminu, Bismack Biyombo, Cheick Diallo, Evan Fournier, Serge Ibaka, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Pascal Siakam. DeRozan’s teamates on Team World will include Harrison Barnes, Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Gay, Khris Middleton, and Hassan Whiteside.

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the basketball world:

  • A total of 40 draft-eligible prospects from outside the United States will take part in the NBA Global Camp 2018 in Treviso, Italy from June 2-5, the NBA announced on Wednesday. While Luka Doncic won’t attend the pre-draft showcase, there will be plenty of prospects worth watching, including Cedevita forward Dzanan Musa, who is the No. 19 prospect on Jonathan Givony’s big board at ESPN.com.
  • The mother of Zeke Upshaw, the G League player who passed away earlier this year after collapsing during a Grand Rapids Drive game, has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the NBA and the Pistons of negligence. The suit alleges that the defendants failed to provide the Drive with the “the resources, policies, and procedures reasonably necessary” to prevent or handle Upshaw’s collapse. Noah Trister of The Associated Press has the full story and more details.
  • Now that two-way contracts have been in effect for nearly a full year, Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days explores what sort of changes we may see to the rules surrounding those contracts in the future.

Southwest Notes: Gay, Powell, Mavs, Capela, Rondo

Spurs forward Rudy Gay has a player option decision to make this offseason, but he tells Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype that he’s not thinking about that decision yet, using this time instead to watch the NBA postseason and prepare for a vacation. Still, Gay doesn’t sound like a player eager to leave San Antonio after his first year with the Spurs.

“It’s like no other organization in the league,” Gay said of the Spurs. “They are definitely family-oriented – there’s a family atmosphere and family is everything. On the court, it’s very different. It’s the epitome of team basketball. Everyone is playing for each other, and it’s always been that way.”

Gay’s option salary ($8.8MM) is worth about the same amount as the mid-level exception will be worth in 2018/19. So, while he could probably increase his total guarantee by declining his Spurs option and signing a multiyear deal, it’s not clear if he’d be able to exceed that 2018/19 salary on a new contract.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • The Mavericks‘ decision to sign Dwight Powell to a four-year, $37MM+ contract in the summer of 2016 looked a year ago like a misstep, but Powell enjoyed a career year for the team in 2017/18, as Dwain Price of Mavs.com observes. “That contract has been more than fulfilled, and it’s not just the player that you see evolving before your very eyes,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “It’s the leadership in that locker room, and he is a very, very special young man that has taken the next step up.”
  • While the Mavericks know they can’t “skip steps” and rush their rebuilding process, they also hope that rebuild isn’t still in its “early stages,” says head coach Rick Carlisle (link via Price at Mavs.com). According to Carlisle, Dallas will be looking to integrate its 2018 lottery pick into the rotation during his rookie year, as the team did with Dennis Smith Jr. this past season.
  • In his latest mailbag for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton takes a closer look at Clint Capela‘s continued improvement, exploring whether the Rockets center has a chance to develop into an All-Star. Re-signing Capela as a restricted free agent will be a top priority for Houston this offseason.
  • Nick Friedell of ESPN.com explores the ways Rajon Rondo has showed veteran leadership for the Pelicans this season, not just on the court but off it as well. Rondo will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: San Antonio Spurs

The fate of the Spurs is in the hands of Kawhi Leonard and it’s hard to get a clear read on his current relationship with the franchise. With Leonard, a savvy veteran core, and a world-class coaching staff, the Spurs are capable of competing in the West. Without him, however, the forecast in San Antonio is considerably more bleak, and that impacts everything, including the club’s pending free agency decisions.

Given the franchise’s track record of stability, I’d posit that Leonard returns at full health next season and this entire debacle gets chalked up to a superstar-level player lacking faith in an organization’s medical staff mandated to prod him back into action as soon as reasonably possible.

While much of the disappointment around the team this year can be traced back to this one isolated case of melodrama, that shouldn’t veil the fact that the Spurs – who’ve been ancient for over a decade now – are looking older than ever. Is a major shakeup right around the bend? That may be the case with or without Leonard eventually, but in 2018/19 at least, we can expect something along the lines of the status quo.

Kyle Anderson, SF, 24 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $6MM deal in 2014
Like any good Spurs prospect, Anderson slowly marinated in winning culture for three years before taking a leap in the final year of his rookie contract. The versatile forward thrived in the minutes made available by the injury to Leonard and could draw interest as a capable, multifaceted young asset on the open market this summer. San Antonio has some flexibility to match a raise if Anderson’s camp goes out and gets one — the Spurs may have no other choice if they end up needing to consider a full roster reboot anyway.

Davis Bertans, PF, 25 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $2MM deal in 2016
Although he didn’t play major minutes on a consistent basis for the Spurs in 2017/18, Bertans established himself as a player who could contribute when given an opportunity. The stretch four isn’t likely to command a significant price tag as a restricted free agent, so San Antonio could probably lock him in as an affordable, yet capable rotation piece in an effort to add depth to an aging frontcourt.

Bryn Forbes, SG, 24 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $2MM deal in 2016
With much of San Antonio’s rotation planted firmly in their late-30s, competent young players that can be locked in to affordable deals are a special commodity. In Forbes, the club has a combo guard capable of instant offense off the bench. The MSU product could generate interest from other teams looking to add fresh legs and a potent long ball, but the Spurs should have enough financial flexibility to match anything within reason.

Rudy Gay, PF, 31 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $17MM deal in 2017
An Achilles injury forced Gay into signing a short-term “prove-it” deal with the Spurs last summer and the combo forward appears to have done just that. Still, while Gay performed admirably in a reduced role with his new franchise, it’s hard to imagine he’d garner much interest on the open market given his age and relatively underwhelming portfolio as a big investment. Gay looked solid as a supplementary player for the Spurs in 2017/18 and seems to be content. Given that there won’t be a long line of teams interested in overpaying for the 31-year-old in 2018, accepting the $9MM player option for next season may be Gay’s best bet.

Danny Green, SG, 31 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $40MM deal in 2015
While Green’s calling card has become ever more important in today’s NBA, there’s no denying that the three-point specialist benefited from perfect timing the last time he hit free agency. Green could conceivably turn down his 2018/19 player option worth $10MM next season in the hopes of landing a modest raise on a lucrative short-term deal like J.J. Redick did last summer, but the former bit player could also play things safe and continue to enjoy his last haul.

Joffrey Lauvergne, C, 26 (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $3MM deal in 2017
Lauvergne has seen his role decrease as he’s bounced from destination to destination over the last three seasons, but he remains a vaguely intriguing reserve asset despite the fact that he’ll turn 27 before next season. This summer, the big man’s best option to stick around in the league long-term might be to accept his 2018/19 player option and battle his way into a bigger role in San Antonio’s frontcourt. If he does that, he could open more opportunities for himself.

Tony Parker, PG, 36 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $56MM deal in 2014
The Spurs have consistently paid their veteran point guard eight-digit salaries for the past decade and while his place in the upper echelon of franchise history is secure, the organization doesn’t face any pressure to sign him to a bloated lifetime achievement contract as he enters the twilight of his career. Parker handled a demotion to the second unit professionally this year and has previously said that he’d like to play 20 seasons. That said, if indications that the team’s culture is going south are true, there may not be much of a point to keeping the band together.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.