The 2015-16 season is the gift that keeps on giving. The Sacramento Kings walked into the year full of hope that they could end their nine-season playoff drought. But despite the additions of Rajon Rondo, Kosta Koufos and Marco Belinelli, the Kings once again fell short.
George Karl’s inability to capture the room played a major role in the disintegration of the season, but there is enough blame to go around. After his worst season as a pro, Belinelli was shipped out on draft night. Rondo is now a member of the Chicago Bulls and Koufos is on the block.
But it wasn’t just the new guys that struggled. Veteran Rudy Gay had a major down season as his role in the offense was diminished. He was supposed to form an alliance with Rondo, a long time friend, and All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins. But the group never really clicked on the floor and Gay became the odd man out.
Plenty of reports have surfaced over the last few months regarding Gay and a possible trade request. The veteran forward is currently in Sacramento at his second annual youth basketball camp and once again confirmed to local media that while he hasn’t made an official trade request, he wouldn’t mind finding a new home this summer.
“No, I think people saw my disinterest, not disinterest, but I think people saw what went on this season and kind of went on that to say that I asked for a trade,” Gay told Sactown Royalty’s Blake Ellington. “I still feel like I had a lot more to give … Because of the structure of the team I wasn’t able to give everything.”
When asked pointedly about whether he had made a request, Gay responded, “No. Personally, no I haven’t.”
There is a bit of wiggle room in that statement. Clearly Gay is unhappy about the way things have transpired in Sacramento and would like a resolution as quickly as possible.
“I think there’s always ways to do things and in this situation I don’t think it’s going about the right way,” Gay said. “No matter what your intentions to do with your players, I would think the first thing you want to do is make sure people are happy with what you are doing. That hasn’t been the case...
"I think it's pretty obvious what situation is going on here. At this point in my career, I think I want some kind of consistency and we don't have that here, at all."
Gay came to the Kings from the Toronto Raptors via trade in December of 2013. The Kings had just been sold to Vivek Ranadivé and there was a lot of excitement around the team. During November of 2014, Gay chose to sign a 3-year extension with the club, but then things went sideways.
Head coach Michael Malone was fired a month after Gay signed on the dotted line and the team fell into massive chaos, which included multiple coaching changes and plenty of player transactions.
“I think that was the start of it,” Gay said of the Malone firing. “The thing with me, I try to stay out of it as much as I can as far as the organization. I try to do what I can control, which is be on the basketball court, but I think at some point, you’ve got to have the players, their futures and what they have at stake in mind when you make decisions and I don’t think that happened.”
Malone was replaced by Tyrone Corbin and then George Karl later in the 2014-15 season, giving the Kings three head coaches in one season. Karl signed a four-year deal with the team, but then chose to alienate Cousins both at the end of the season and during the summer. Gay already knew going into the season that there was very little hope of success.
“I just think the whole disconnect, it trickles down. It starts at the top and it trickles down,” Gay said.
Whether Gay officially asked for an exit or not, the Kings are actively shopping him in hopes of balancing out the roster. Now that free agency has slowed to a crawl, teams in need of a high-end scorer have been calling, but Vlade Divac and his front office group have yet to pull the trigger on a deal.
Gay is under contract for this season at $13.3 million and has a player option for next year at $14.3 million. He underwent a surgery to help with Achilles tendonitis and told Sactown Royalty that he feels better than he has in at least two years.
The Kings aren’t looking to give Gay away for free, but they added Matt Barnes and Garrett Temple that can play his position, in addition to Omri Casspi who was already on the roster.