The last thing that Dave Joerger and the Sacramento Kings needed was drama to open training camp. Rudy Gay wants out. He wants out now, but he’s willing to settle for the end of the season.
Before making it well known that he would opt out of his contract next summer, Gay was slated to play 35 minutes a night at the team’s deepest position. The Kings were looking for him to shoulder a ton of the scoring load.
Now he becomes and unknown as the Kings scramble to either trade him now, trade him at the deadline or lose him next summer.
With the uncertainty surrounding the team’s second leading scorer, someone is going to have to step up. Be it as a starter or as a major reserve, who will fill the void if Gay is dealt and a small forward doesn’t come back in the deal?
2015-16 stats: 11.8 points, 1.4 assists, 5.9 rebounds, .8 steals, 27.2 minutes
Casspi has been a revelation for the Kings in his second go-around. The plan is for the 28-year-old wing to play substantial minutes as a stretch four this season, but Gay might have thrown a wrench in that plan.
Entering his eighth NBA season, Casspi has developed into the Kings’ best outside shooter, hitting 40.9 percent from long range last year. He can also run the floor with the best of them, which might make him a perfect candidate to come off the bench, but he averaged 14.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in 21 games as a starter last season.
Casspi is well respected by his teammates and is bound to play a major role with the team either as a reserve or starter and at both the small and power forward positions.
2015-16 stats: 10.0 points, 2.1 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 28.8 minutes
Barnes joined the Kings on a two-year deal during the summer, returning to where it all began for the 36-year-old wing. Like Casspi, Barnes can play both forward positions and even swing out to the perimeter and play some two.
The Kings were looking for gritty defender types during the offseason and despite his age, Barnes still has plenty left in the tank. He played last season with Joerger in Memphis and helped keep the team on track despite a bevy of injuries.
Don’t be shocked if “Sac-town's Finest” plays a huge role on the Kings this season. He plays as hard as anyone in the league and DeMarcus Cousins is a huge fan of his.
He can’t score like Gay can, but if the Kings are playing the position by committee, Barnes will eat plenty of those minutes.
2015-16 stats: 7.3 points, 1.3 assists, 2.6 rebounds, .9 steals, 24.4 minutes
Yes, Temple shows up in his third Training Camp Battle post. The veteran can play the 1, 2 and three and maybe more importantly, he can defend all three positions as well.
Casspi is the shooter, Barnes is the defender and if he’s playing big minutes at the three, Temple will be the distributor of the group. Like Barnes, the 30-year-old Temple plays the game with an edge. He never gives up on a play and his effort is contagious.
On the downside, he isn’t a great shooter and he averages just 4.5 points per game over his career. A starting lineup that includes both Temple and Willie Cauley-Stein would put a lot of pressure on Cousins to score 40 points a night.
Gay isn’t long for the Kings. If it’s now or at mid-season, the Kings are going to look to move him and there is no guarantee that they will receive another small forward in return.
He might not play 35 minutes a night and the Kings would prefer to use him at both forward spots, but Casspi is the logical choice because he can open the floor with his long range shooting. But he will need to show a better commitment on the defensive end to earn the trust of Joerger.
Barnes played almost 29 minutes a night for the Kings’ new coach last season, but at 35, how many more seasons of that kind of wear and tear does he have? Temple will stay on the floor and move from one position to the next, but his value comes from his versatility off the bench.