Apr 6, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) dribbles past Dallas Mavericks guard Jose Calderon (8) in the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Mavericks defeated the Kings 93-91. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento Kings: The Rudy Gay Dilemma

There was once a time when Rudy Gay was seen as one of the NBA’s most versatile small forwards, but his tenure with the Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors left a trail of inconsistency in scoring, and a guy that can’t put all the tools together.

Playing for a hard-nosed, gritty franchise like the Memphis Grizzlies have grown into would usually increase the very facets of one’s game. Gay has been unable to show efficiency and good shot selection, but always providing flashes of his potential with his athleticism.

Before his arrival in Sacramento, the 18 games he started for the Raptors featured Gay shooting a career-low of 38 percent, scoring 19.4 per game.

After being moved in a deal in January, he improved that percentage and scoring mark, posting 20.1 points on 48 percent shooting. The numbers he has been able to garner have been underwhelming, in terms of his $82 million, five-year deal that the Grizzlies signed him to in 2010.

That contract was one of the biggest reasons that Gay has moved between three franchises over a span of two seasons.

This summer’s free agency period is expected to be filled with another batch of hefty decisions. Gay is right in the midst of things, along with names such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony.

Next season provides Gay with a player option of $19.3 million, and the Kings have given him until June 30 to exercise the contract option. The Kings are expected to meet with Gay to convince the eight-year veteran to opt in.

Questions in relation to Gay being worthy of such a large contract are definitely starting to mount, due to the Kings’ decisions on retaining and signing Mr. Irrelevant himself, Isaiah Thomas.

Hopes are that Gay will decide to opt out of his contract, and sign a lower deal, leaving room to give Thomas a contract, as well. Will Gay be partial to the idea? Historically speaking, his troubles have spawned from a sense of complacency when receiving big money like he has gotten.

The Kings franchise will have to weigh the pros and cons of paying a hefty price tag for a player that could keep them toeing the lines of the luxury tax.

In today’s NBA, the wrong moves can hinder a franchise for years, depending on changes made on the team and in the front office.

One of the more recent examples are the Los Angeles Lakers, who signed Pau Gasol during the 2009-10 season to a three-year, $64.7 million dollar extension. Since that time, and shortly after a few championship runs, the Lakers have changed head coaches, and have tried to move Gasol’s contract for several seasons.

Are the Kings willing to create a similar situation, if Gay doesn’t produce at the improved level that he showed this season? The Sacramento brass will have to proceed with caution, and prepare to make a bigger decision, that they may not be expecting.

Tags: Rudy Gay Sacramento Kings

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