We are mere months into the new regime for the Sacramento Kings, and one thing is clear – they are not afraid of showing the rest of the league, as well as their fans, that they are willing to spend for the present, as well as the future.
New Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and GM Pete D’Alessandro were anxious to show the fanbase in Sacramento that they were willing to make a splash in order to bring a more exciting – if not better – product on the court. After he facilitated the move to acquire former No. 2 overall pick from 2011, Derrick Williams, D’Alessandro worked with Toronto GM Masai Ujiri – a colleague of D’Alessandro’s when both worked in Denver – in a deal that initially looked like the equivalent of the trade of Anquan Boldin from the Ravens to the 49ers.
After all, everyone knew that Ujiri was looking to unload Gay to anyone willing to deal, especially to get rid of a player who had lost his offensive touch (for as many times as he touched the ball), and was a complete liability on defense. Not to mention the $17 million owed to him this season, and the $20 million owed to him next season.
The consensus after the deal went through seemed to be that the Raptors got away with highway robbery, despite getting four players of little to no consequence – PG Greivis Vasquez being the biggest name headed to Toronto. They got out of Gay’s obscenely large contract, and cleared cap space for the future. Meanwhile, Ranadive and D’Alessandro came away looking like suckers, strapping themselves with a player owed too much money, that seems to need the ball as much as centerpiece C DeMarcus Cousins. Which is why, when the deal was done, everyone outside of Sacramento was scratching their heads, asking the same thing:
Why in God’s name would they make this deal?
Well, judging from what I’ve read so far, here are a few reasons:
1. Gay gives the Kings a significant upgrade after John Salmons. Let’s face it – SF John Salmons was more a bane than a boon for the Kings during his multiple tenures with the team. Lest we forget – people questioned why the old regime brought Salmons back in 2011 after a stint with the Milwaukee Bucks. Heck, I was one of them. And, if you’re a die-hard Kings fan, you know as much as I do that getting Salmons off the court as the No. 1 SF on the team was absolutely necessary – if, for nothing else, to give the fans one less reason to hate the product on the court. Rudy Gay’s potential at the spot may be totally refreshing compared to the last two years with Salmons. And, no matter what, he’s undoubtedly the best at the position the Kings have had since Ron Artest five years ago.
2. If incorporated the right way, the team might resemble the 1999 version of the Kings. The lone upside I’m getting from experts seems to be that, despite all of Gay’s faults, he will bring a level of excitement in the frontcourt that hasn’t been seen consistently from the team for years. If that’s true, perhaps in the time Gay sustains on the court with the Kings, he could provide some much-needed entertainment value for a team that isn’t kidding itself in terms of making the postseason – at least not this year. Who knows: if Gay, Derrick Williams and DeMarcus Cousins can figure out a way to share the ball (which, I realize, is a tall task), we could see, to a lesser extent, a second coming of the Webber-Divac-JWill teams of the early 2000s.
3. Maybe the Kings know something the rest of the sports world simply isn’t seeing. While the statistics work against Gay as a player, as well as his contract numbers, perhaps the front office was willing to take in Gay because they see him not as the offensive centerpiece perhaps Toronto thought he would be, but a piece of the puzzle for a rebuilding franchise. After all, isn’t it a bit premature to give up on a talent like Gay at 27, about to possibly reach his physical prime? Perhaps he is not the ball hog or the bad guy he has been portrayed to be in the media over the past year, and he contributes significantly to a Kings team still trying to find its post-Maloof identity (At least someone was willing to make this argument).
If that’s possible, then maybe the Kings made out better in the deal than initially thought.