The Kings and Rudy Gay made it official at a press conference Wednesday, formally announcing a three-year contract extension estimated to be worth $40 million.
The contract also comes with a player option for 2017-18.
Gay, along with another All-Star caliber player in DeMarcus Cousins, serve as bookends of the turnaround that owner Vivek Ranadive hopes to complete in California’s capital city.
"The first thing I did (when he bought the team) was call Petey (Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro) and said, ‘Get us Rudy Gay,'" said Ranadive.
D’Alessandro delivered by orchestrating a deal with Toronto last December, granting the owner his wish.
In addition to the experience with the Kings, Gay and Cousins also toiled on Team USA, winning FIBA Gold in Spain this offseason. And now Gay invokes the term “brothers” to describe their bond.
Gay, 28, now in his ninth NBA season is a unique offensive talent boasting a career scoring average of 18.3 points per game. And this season the 6-foot-8 small forward is averaging a career-high 21.8 points per game.
“High level player that wants to be here with us…this is a different Sacramento team,” said D’Alessandro.
There is early evidence to support the GM’s point of a “different” Kings team, but clearly more work needs to be done.
An unexpected 6-5 start is a welcome sign in Sacramento.
The Kings are hoping that the signing provides the street cred necessary to attract more talent to upgrade the roster and ultimately improve upon back-to-back 28-game winning seasons.
Changing the culture in Sacramento will take talent, of course, but to end the Kings' eight-year playoff drought will take more character.
“It’s not just about talent. We want to bring in the right guys and Rudy’s a high character individual,” said Kings coach Michael Malone.
Additionally, he has engendered the respect of his teammates as a leader -- the entire team was at the press conference posing for pictures and snapping selfies in celebration of the deal.
"Rudy did things every day that startled you in practice with his unbelievable athleticism. Not just once or twice a season- every day," said former UConn associate head coach George Blaney.
Beyond the athleticism, it was also easy for the folks at UConn to recognize the substance of the kid from Baltimore.
[HERENDA: Gay, Kings agree on contract extension]
“Rudy is a great person and I loved working with him. He deserves (the contract extension)," stressed Blaney, he himself one of the most respected people in basketball.
Gay’s first comments at the press conference addressed not ownership, not management but another key constituency –– the fans.
“Since the first day I walked in, I felt the love from the fans...Sacramento has some of the best fans I’ve ever been around. To be here for three more years to play for them is an honor,” said Gay, demonstrating his appreciation.
With construction underway on a new downtown sports and entertainment complex that will be the new home of the Kings beginning in the 2016-17 season, Sacramento is hoping that just as the foundation for the new building is being laid, with Cousins and Gay a similar foundation is in place on the floor as well.
However, at the end of the day, it’s about winning and the Kings are hoping that Gay helps them win big.