Assessing Rudy Gay’s trade value


The NBA trade deadline is February 18th. Still weeks away, but for many players around the league, it will be the longest weeks of the year.

Not only do legitimate trade rumors fly around at a seemingly incessant rate, but artificial rumors are also created to disrupt team chemistry and momentum.

The wild road to the deadline culminates over All-Star Weekend where every General Manager will be in the same city, and often times the same building – a perfect opportunity to flesh out any and every trade possibility.

To be clear, there are an exceptionally low percentage of NBA players who are untradeable. For some teams, that percentage likely means just one player. For many, every player is worth a conversation.

So far, it’s been a quiet year. Currently, there have been only four trades made since the start of the season. At this time last year, there were 11. That was all before another 14 would be completed in the final nine days leading up to the deadline.

For the Kings, the name most mentioned in rumors has been Rudy Gay. This comes as little surprise as his fit and contribution has at times been suspect this season.

Still, he is the second-leading scorer on this team and in all likelihood the second-best player as well. Moving him would come with a ton of risk, and even more questions.

How would you replace Gay’s 18 points and seven rebounds per game? Without drawing the attention that he does, are opposing defenses then freed up to further collapse upon two-time All-Star, DeMarcus Cousins?

How would trading Gay affect the teams ever so fragile, but currently stable team chemistry?

There are many questions that come to mind when discussing a potential Gay trade. The biggest one however, is deciphering what exactly his trade value is and how is it affected by the current state and landscape of the NBA?

More than ever, efficiencies and advanced stats have become a compass for NBA General Managers. When evaluating Gay, the numbers point in a variety of directions.

His 16.48 player efficiency rating ranks him 10th in the NBA amongst small forwards, whereas his value added (121.9) and earned wins average (4.1) place him at 11th(

These three analytics all point to Gay being a borderline top ten small forward in the league. Not something easy to come by.

However, other analytics tell a different story. Gay’s true shooting percentage of 53.8 percent ranks him 25th in the league amongst small forward who average more than 20 minutes per game.

This is a stat that should come as no surprise to those who follow the Kings closely. To be honest, it’s not Gay’s shooting ability that hampers him; it’s his shot selection.

It’s something in particular that the modern NBA has placed an emphasis on. It’s a paradigm shift that has seen the mid-range jumper appear on the endangered species list in favor of 3-point shots or attempts at the rim.

For Gay however, it’s a shot that he not only specializes in, but also prefers. As for 3-pointers, that’s another story all together.

When looking at three-point shooting percentages for small forwards, Gay doesn’t even qualify on’s list because in order to do so, a player must be on pace for 82 3-pointers made in the season.


Through 47 games though, Gay has made just 43. Otherwise, his 33.6 percent would rank him 22nd amongst small forwards who exceed more than 20 minutes per game.

When it comes to getting shots at the rim, Gay also ranks pretty low. Amongst forwards who play more than 20 minutes, he ranks 23rd in drives per game with just 3.8 (

This is where players considered to be in the same tier as him surpass Gay. Gordan Hayward (7.5), Giannis Antentokounmpo (5.9), Andrew Wiggins (5.0), Danilo Gallinari (5.0), and Chandler Parsons (4.4) all drive drastically more to the rim.

In short, the NBA’s emphasis on efficiency and shot selection has decreased the value of players who prefer the mid-range shot.

As James Ham of has reported, “there is plenty of interest around the league for multiple players on the Kings’ roster.”

The report stops short of directly linking Gay as one of those players who have received interest. However, Marc Stein reported that the Pelicans offered Alonzo Gee and Eric Gordon for Gay, but the Kings rejected that offer.

Stein has also reported that, “Sacramento is said to be seeking a quality young player in return if it parts with Gay.”

That will likely make a Gay trade even less likely as partnering teams are much more likely to send draft picks and prospects than “quality young players.”

Furthermore, the players who have been listed in rumors around the league are primarily big men like Dwight Howard, Greg Monroe, Terrance Jones, Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol, and Hassan Whiteside. With Cousins and Cauley-Stein looking like a devastating duo for years to come, adding another big is senseless.

The Pelicans’ Ryan Anderson is said to be on the block and it has been reported that the Kings offered Gay for Anderson straight up. Unlike Gay however, Anderson fits the modern NBA style well, leading the Pelicans to rejected that offer.

Lastly, Gay will have the option to opt-out of his existing deal after next season. Though the $14.3 million he would receive if he were to opt-in seems like a tough number to pass up, it would behoove Gay (who will be 31 years old at the time) to look for a longer-term deal.

The reality is that a team trading for Gay’s service would only be able to guarantee them less than a season and a half and is sure to turn off some interested parties.

The Kings are just a game and a half out of the playoffs and are currently the most talented of all the playoff bubble teams.

Though they are far from contending for a championship, the Kings are in prime condition to make the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Trading Gay in all likelihood could put that hope in jeopardy.

When evaluating Gay’s value around the league, it becomes starkly apparent that there are few places, if any, where it’s higher than Sacramento.

Given the Kings’ stipulations, Gay’s lack of fit in the modern style of NBA basketball, and his unforeseeable future, a trade involving Gay seems unlikely.

Expect number eight to be in a Kings uniform on February 19th in Sacramento where the Kings are set to take on the Denver Nuggets.

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