The Kings might be looking to trade Rudy Gay after his recent comments to the media, but what can the Kings net for their small forward?
In a recent interview with Sactown Royalty, Rudy Gay expressed his frustration with the direction of the Kings and the lack of information from the front office.
He notably said that he was looking for stability and happiness from his team situation, something that he began to feel was not going to be there in Sacramento after the firing of Mike Malone. He spoke from his Nike Skills Academy camp on Monday and said that he had spoken to Kings GM Vlade Divac, but all signs seem to indicate that Rudy is unhappy with his situation and would like to be traded before the season begins.
Although his recent comments may have decreased his trade value, Rudy is a valuable offensive player, who may be able to net the Kings a decent return in a trade and help them shore up their guard rotation.
Any team looking to trade for him will value his offensive production and ability to play both forward positions. While Gay is undersized as a power forward at 6'8" and 230 pounds, his speed and athleticism would make him an interesting stretch-4. Rudy is an above-average shooter from everywhere on the floor except above-the-break and wing 3-point shots, as shown from his shot chart:
Rudy Gay is a reliable scorer (he has averaged 18.4 points per game for his career and his scoring average has not dipped below 17 points per game since his rookie season), and his decently efficient offense and ability to score from pretty much anywhere on the floor will allow him to fit in with most NBA rosters relatively quickly. While the Kings will be hard-pressed to find a trade for Gay that returns equivalent value, there are a few teams that could use Rudy's offense and can afford to offer the Kings some much-needed help at the guard positions.
One potential trade option for the Kings, although an unlikely one, would be Ricky Rubio. Rubio's name has been in the rumor mill recently after the Timberwolves drafted Kris Dunn at #5 overall, and Minnesota may be looking to move on from the Rubio era. Ricky has shot 36.8% from the floor during his five-year career, and his shooting woes both at the rim and from the outside allow opponents to sag off him defensively and pressure opposing players.
However, Rubio is an excellent defender who has led the league in steal percentage in three of the last four years. He would be an instant boost to a Kings defense that had serious trouble guarding anyone on the perimeter last year. Rubio is also an incredible passer, and would instantly become the best pick-and-roll point guard that DeMarcus Cousins has ever played with.
In turn, Rudy Gay would be a good fit for the Timberwolves as a small-ball 4. He would boost an already strong Timberwolves transition offense, and could play alongside multiple Timberwolves lineups: he could play small forward alongside Gorgui Dieng and Karl-Anthony Towns, and also slot into a lineup with Wiggins at the 3 and Zach LaVine at shooting guard.
The Timberwolves are unlikely to let go of Rubio before the trade deadline, however, and they would likely value Rubio higher than Gay, especially since power forward is not his natural position. Furthermore, Tom Thibodeau is unlikely to want to trade a defensive stalwart like Rubio for an offense-first player like Gay. While swapping Rudy for Ricky would be a huge boon for the Kings, it sadly would be an unlikely proposition.
One team that has come up frequently in trade talks with the Kings is the Indiana Pacers, who according to Marc Stein are looking to acquire Gay for Rodney Stuckey. Sacramento is, also per Stein, pushing for Monta Ellis to be a piece in any trade involving Rudy. Kings fans should hope that neither player is involved in any trade for Gay since both Stuckey and Ellis would be terrible fits in Sacramento. They are both ball-dominant guards who have very shaky 3-point shots and reputations as poor defenders. If Sacramento is going to trade Rudy Gay before the season, they should be able to find a better trade partner than the Pacers. Especially if they refuse to offer more than Stuckey.
Given what he has said in the media so far, Vlade Divac will almost certainly have to find Rudy Gay a new home before the start of the 2016-2017 season. While the Kings might not be able to find a fair trade for Rudy, they should push for a potential starting point guard with decent defensive prowess. If Darren Collison continues to battle legal issues the Kings will be forced to start Garrett Temple at point guard, which is an iffy proposition at best.
Sacramento will want to enter their new arena with a good point guard, and no-one is more likely to get them that point guard than Rudy Gay.