Editor's note: This article is part of a continuing series in which Insider Bill Herenda highlights a different Kings player every day leading up to the 2014-15 season opener on Oct. 29
Salary: $19, 317,326
Contract status: Exercised option to stay in Sacramento in June and is under contract through 2014-15. (Acquired by Sacramento along with Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray via trade with Toronto in December for Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes.
2013-14 in review: Gay was knocked for his lack of efficiency on offense. Toronto improved after he was traded and won the Atlantic Division before falling in seven games to Brooklyn in the playoffs.
Counterintuitive to the notion of Gay’s inefficiency, though, Gay’s field goal percentage actually increased nearly 10 points to 48 percent in 55 games with Sacramento -- a team that finished last in the NBA in assists.
In 73 games split between Toronto and Sacramento, Gay was 19th in the NBA averaging 20 points per game. He matched a career high with 41 points in 42 minutes at New Orleans in a 121-97 road win in January.
Gay had a shortened offseason, though, joining fellow teammate DeMarcus Cousins on the Team USA squad that won the gold medal in the FIBA World Cup. In nine games off the bench for Team USA, the former first round draft pick out of Memphis (8th overall) averaged 6.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 13.9 minutes per game.
2014-15 outlook: Sacramento is a franchise in transition with major questions regarding its best players, specifically the maturation of Cousins and the ability to keep Gay in Sacramento beyond this season.
While Gay exercised his option to stay in Sacramento for this season, his long-term status is unknown. Contract talks were halted this summer when Gay joined Team USA in Spain and have not restarted yet.
Gay and Cousins bonded after 55 games together last season in California’s capital city plus via the Team USA experience and hope to leverage the experience in Spain to change the culture of back-to-back 28-win seasons for the Kings.
Coach Michael Malone, for this season at least, has Cousins and Gay together and he likes the options they present, “It’s unique in the NBA to have two go-to guys in crunch time.”
In addition to Cousins attracting attention in the paint, Gay’s efficiency should improve due to a number of factors. A natural scorer, Gay stands to benefit from the injection of veteran point guards in Darren Collison and Ramon Sessions.
Sacramento was tied for 27th in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage last season at 33 percent. If the addition of first round draft pick Nik Stauskas -- a career 44 percent shooter from downtown in his two seasons at Michigan -- and the development of Ben McLemore -- who shot 32 percent from 3-point range in his rookie campaign last year -- can make them more dangerous from downtown, floor spacing should improve and give Gay more space to work.
Sacramento would love to lock the former UConn Huskie up. And Gay admits, “It’s not LA or 'The Bay,' but No-Cal, (Northern California) it’s cool.”
Malone, GM Pete D’Alessandro and owner Vivek Ranadive are courting Gay, hoping that the family lifestyle of laid-back Sacramento is a good long-term fit for Gay and his wife Ecko, who welcomed their first child -- son Clinton -- this summer.
While Sacramento real estate agents would be wise to have Gay in the sales funnel, spending the commission now could prove hasty.
C Sim Bhullar
G Deonte Burton
F Omri Casspi
G Darren Collison
C DeMarcus Cousins
F Reggie Evans
F Rudy Gay
C Ryan Hollins
G Trey Johnson
F Carl Landry
G Ray McCallum
G Ben McLemore
F Eric Moreland
G Ramon Sessions
G Nik Stauskas
F/C Jason Thompson
F David Wear
F Derrick Williams