Rudy Gay

Back in Sacramento, Rudy Gay reflects on time with Kings: 'A lot of learning'

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AP

Back in Sacramento, Rudy Gay reflects on time with Kings: 'A lot of learning'

SACRAMENTO -- The last time Kings fans saw Rudy Gay in a basketball uniform, he was pounding the floor of the Golden 1 Center in frustration after tearing his right Achilles tendon. It was the dramatic conclusion of Gay’s career in Sacramento, one that left even the most hardened fan filled with emotion.

The veteran forward left Sacramento over the summer, turning down a $14.3 million player option. He’s now a member of the San Antonio Spurs who are in town to face off with the Kings in the preseason opener.

“I’ve never even been in the other side of this building, so I’m learning,” Gay said following shootaround. “Little bit of emotions. I’m looking at the spot where I hurt myself and I’m just glad to be back out here and healthy.”

Gay, 31, spent three and a half seasons in Sacramento uniform, playing Robin to DeMarcus Cousins’ Batman. He finished his Kings career averaging 19.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists over 223 games.

“It was a learning experience,” Gay said of his time in Sacramento. “I met a lot of great people. Some of the best fans I’ve ever played for. A lot of learning. I’ve been through a lot here and it’s going to mold and shape the rest of my career.”

Despite the injury, Gay has been cleared for basketball duties. He’s spent the week training with his teammates in preparation for the 2017-18 season. He’s chomping at the bit to get his first game action, but coach Gregg Popovich is going to err on the side of caution when it comes to early season playing time.

“They say not, I say yes, that’s just what I do, I’m more conservative,” Popovich said as to whether Gay’s playing time should be limited. “I’ll probably bring him along more slowly than he’s going to want to. When he gets after me like Manu (Ginobili) or Timmy (Duncan) does, then I’ll lighten up.”

Gay will not play Monday night in Sacramento. Popovich will let him get stronger and more comfortable in the Spurs system. He’ll be asked to play both forward positions this season in San Antonio and he looked noticeably bigger as he fielded questions sitting courtside.

The Kings open their 2017-18 preseason against the Spurs Monday night at Golden 1 Center. Sacramento travels to San Antonio later in the week where they’ll see Gay and his teammates at the AT&T Center on Friday evening.

Kings free agent forward agrees to terms with Spurs

Kings free agent forward agrees to terms with Spurs

Update (6:57 p.m.): The Spurs officially signed Rudy Gay, as the team announced on their Twitter page

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Rudy Gay opted out of $14 million on his final year of his contract with the Sacramento Kings to become a free agent. The veteran small forward will make a lot less money with his new team. 

On Thursday, Gay reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with the Spurs, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Gay's deal is for $17 million-plus over the two years, and it includes a player option. 

In the 2016-17 season, Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

He only appeared in 30 games after rupturing his left Achilles on Jan. 18 against the Pacers. 

Source: Rudy Gay will opt out of his contract with Kings

Source: Rudy Gay will opt out of his contract with Kings

SACRAMENTO -- The decision is in.

Rudy Gay will opt out of the final year of his $14.2 million contract and become an unrestricted free agent, NBC Sports California has learned.

Gay, 30, informed the Kings prior to training camp in September that he intended to forgo his final year of his contract in Sacramento, but a catastrophic Achilles tendon injury in January put that decision in question. He is ahead of schedule in his recovery and hopes to be cleared to participate in training camp in September.

The 11-year NBA veteran averaged 18.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assist in 30 games for Sacramento this season before the injury.

Gay joined the Kings as part of a seven-player swap with the Toronto Raptors in December of 2013. He signed a three-year extension the following November with a player option for the final year. 

He has until June 10 to officially inform the Kings of his decision.

Marc Spears of The Undefeated was first with the news.