According to the Kings, Rudy Gay isn’t on the trading block, but they will listen to offers. With a few deals already being declined, are there any options out there that could entice the Kings to move on from Gay?
Since rumors flooded that Rudy Gay was “on the trading block”, the Kings have stated that this is not accurate. According to the Kings they are willing to listen to trades, but they are not actively shopping Gay. As I wrote in a previous article, this is the best approach for the Kings, as they are playing too well to sell low on Gay.
While Gay doesn’t have tremendous value as a high-volume scorer that isn’t a great defender or shooter, he does have a fair salary, and many teams could use his 18 points per game.
The Kings score an average of 106.4 points per game, and looking at the lineup theoretically, a three-and-D wing makes more sense than a high-volume scorer. The Kings’ two biggest weaknesses on paper are shooting and defense, and if the Kings are going to move Gay, they should try to address both of these weaknesses at the same time.
In the proposed trade that began all of the rumors — Gay for Ryan Anderson — the Kings would have addressed their floor spacing issues, but they would be even weaker on defense, which is something they can’t afford.
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Gordon provides the Kings with a career 38 percent three-point shooter, and Gee provides defense at either wing position, but neither provides more than Gay in terms of two-way play. Gee struggles offensively and isn’t a great shooter while Gordon isn’t a great defender and would provide shooting at a position where the Kings already have some with Mclemore and Bellinelli.
The Kings’ biggest issue is a lack of two-way production on the roster, so any possible trade would need to find a way to facilitate improvement on both ends, or at least, improve the defense without sacrificing offense. The Kings are believed to have refused this trade, which makes it seem as if they are on the right track.
But with the first few offers not addressing the Kings’ needs, the question arises whether or not there is a trade out there for Gay that can?
It’s quite difficult, and the realistic scenarios are few and far between, but there are a couple of realistic trades that are possible.
The Rockets have been disappointing this season, and are looking to make some changes.
While the Rockets haven’t expressed any interest in Gay, it is believed that the Rockets are interested in trading Corey Brewer or Terrence Jones, so it’s possible that they may be willing to trade both to the Kings in exchange for Gay and perhaps Quincy Acy.
Hypothetically, Gay could both play as the 3 or as an undersized stretch-4 next to Trevor Ariza and Dwight Howard, while Acy would be a solid backup at the 4 with Donatas Motiejunas dealing with an ongoing back injury.
For the Kings, Brewer would be a great fit as a fast-break specialist that can defend and hit the corner three occasionally, while Jones has shown flashes as a potential two-way starter at the power forward position (he averaged 1.8 blocks per game last season).
While the Rockets may not deal Jones in his current form, his name is out there, and they have long been after a third star to pair with Howard and James Harden — could Rudy Gay be that guy?
While this trade hasn’t been rumored, and nothing is linking Gay to the Rockets, these are all players who are available, and it makes sense that the discussion might come up. With Howard and Harden in their primes the Rockets would be looking to push into contender status, and if they are willing to take a big risk, they could be vulnerable.
If the Kings are smart (big if), they could be able to work out an excellent deal with the Rockets.
The Clippers’ offseason acquisitions haven’t paid off, which means an in-season trade could be on the cards.
A team that is rumored to have an interest in Gay is the Los Angeles Clippers, who are looking to add any quality small forward to their rotation. The Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith experiments have backfired on the Clippers, which means that those are the players that could be had in a deal for Gay.
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Unfortunately, those names come with a risk for the Kings, but it’s not as bad as it seems.
This trade would involve putting their season on the line, and adding Smith and Stephenson might not be great for an already volatile locker room. However, if the Kings feel like Gay isn’t a piece they want to build around going forward, then the reward outweighs any long-term risk for the Kings.
While I said the Kings had to address two-way play, this deal is defense-oriented — which isn’t a terrible thing for the Kings. Stephenson is a plus defender and is shooting 35 percent this year, but the caveat is that he is only playing 15 minutes per game.
Smith is playing even fewer minutes at 14 per game, but he is an exceptional defender at the 4 or 5 position and does shoot 31 percent from three. While these players don’t exactly provide the floor spacing that the Kings need, they are potential two-way players with a strong focus on defense.
Both Smith and Stephenson have been quality defenders in the past, and at their best they would allow the 29th-ranked Kings to move up the ranks. There is risk involved, but if the Kings can secure a pick in the trade as well, it doesn’t hurt them going into next season.
This trade could help propel the Kings to the playoffs, but if it does fail to result in a playoff berth, Smith is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and the Kings can decline Stephenson’s team option for the final year of his contract.
Basically, if this experiment does fail the Kings can quickly wash their hands of it, and they would be left with an extra $13 million in cap space, and a draft pick to pair with their lottery pick.
With two draft picks and $13 million extra in salary, things could turn around quickly if the immediate additions of Smith and Stephenson do fail (which could be likely given their history).