Gays Injury Changes Market for The Trade Deadline
Last night, during the third quarter of the Sacramento Kings’ 106-100 loss to the Indiana Pacers, Kings forward Rudy Gay suffered what is believed to be a torn left Achilles tendon. It’s a devastating blow for Gay, who was having a solid year and likely headed into free agency in July.
Gay holds a $14.263 million player option on the 2017-18 season of his contract and was expected to decline that option to consummate a new free agent deal in July. It’s possible Gay still considers the free agent market, though, and there is some history of new deals coming off an Achilles tear. Wesley Matthews of the Dallas Mavericks, for example, signed a huge $72 million deal with the team, fresh off a similar injury. However, the likelihood of Gay being far enough along in the rehab process in July to garner a new deal may be low.
Gay’s injury not only impacts this season, but it will also likely impact next season for the Kings, too. Sacramento was expecting to trade Gay either at or near the deadline or let his deal come off their cap to spend in free agency. Either way, Gay’s cap money was going away for the Kings. Gay’s injury also likely takes him out of the trade market for other teams, too. Although an acquiring could waive Gay’s required physical (mind you, injured players can be traded in the NBA), he wouldn’t be the answer some teams were looking for him to be.
There have been rumors around the NBA that both the Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic had been at the Kings regarding a Rudy Gay trade. The Kings themselves have been at a few teams like the Miami HEAT (Goran Dragic), Atlanta Hawks (Paul Millsap) and New Orleans Pelicans (Jrue Holiday), with offers built around Gay’s likely expiring deal. While none of them seem close, they were options the Kings were exploring.
With Gay off the market as a viable answer to a playoff run, those teams looking for help will need to turn to new options (Portland’s glut of wings in many cases). The next part for the Kings is they may no longer have the salary to move to secure a high-dollar player without moving multiple roster pieces. Those trades are tough to consummate in-season.
A byproduct of the Gay injury likely means the Kings need to hang on to guard Arron Afflalo, who was rumored to be available via trade, as well. If the Kings want to keep their playoff hopes alive, going entirely with young guys might not be the answer. That would mean that Afflalo would need to stay unless he returns a comparable talent.
With the NBA trade deadline in roughly 35 days, things get interesting, as Gay was expected to headline the players moved in the 11th hour. With Gay off the market, things could get interesting, as teams struggling to cement the postseason may have to get more creative. This could work to the advantage of teams like the Trail Blazers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns—all of whom have players to move.
When a chip comes off the table, it usually increases the value of the chips that remain.
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