Year one at the Golden1 Center is in the books and the Sacramento Kings may have set themselves up for a constructive rebuild. After starting their season with a collective goal of reaching the playoffs, Sacramento’s half season skid set them back to 11th in the west.
The Kings started their season with two of the league’s best scorers and ended with neither in Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins.
Upon Gay’s season ending Achilles injury, the Kings were forced to search for scoring in a bench that had not produced efficiently till that point. Gay set off the domino effect that has set the Kings roster up to where they are today.
Without Gay being sidelined we may have never seen the growth of Willie Cauley-Stein or Skal Labissiere, but most importantly, the midseason trade. The Kings may have made the playoffs and Cousins might still be in a Kings uniform.
Regardless of the “what if’s”, the NBA is a business and the Kings had to play damage control considering the series of unfortunate events. Although Gay’s injury may have been unexpected, the Kings had to find scoring very quickly.
Some could’ve shied away from their team after an injury but Gay remained close to the young Kings during the midseason rebuilding process.
“I think they’ve been playing great — getting the opportunity,” said Gay. “Obviously, we do see a lot of places where they can get better but that’s what this is for — we’re letting go out there and letting them play. The coaches have been doing a great job of helping them when they need them and they’ve been playing their asses off.”
After keeping a close eye on what the Kings “could be” next season, Gay ultimately has to make a decision on whether or not he’ll pick up his player option to remain apart of the franchise. If Gay chooses to remain a King he’ll make $14,263,566 for the 2017-2018 season.
In most cases a decision for a player to opt in for their final season of their contract would be probable, but Gay is way ahead of time in his recovery process and may plan on testing the market come June. Expected to make a full recovery by this summer mostly all have assumed that Gay could more than likely be on the move.
“It’s been one of those situations where you wake up and you feel like the world is over some days and some days you’re motivated, but for the most part I’ve been motivated and it’s helped me,” said Gay. “I feel like I’m way ahead of schedule; I’m doing things now that I didn’t think I’d be able to do this early and I’m even surprising doctor’s, so that say’s a lot.”
With the way the season has gone for the Kings, a departure of Gay would not be that shocking and it would open up a larger window of opportunity starting this summer. With a star-studded draft come June combined with the great amount of young talent in house, Sacramento could potentially replace Gay and officially start the rebuild process.
The full rebuild (minus Gay) could start as soon as the draft or as soon as he makes his decision to opt out. Or if he decides to opt in, Gay would serve as a solid veteran scorer on what would be one of the youngest teams in the NBA for the 2017-2018 season.