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Last night, Gay went out and tied his career-best with 41 points in the Kings’ 114-97 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Since being acquired by the team in January, he has averaged 19.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and three assists a game. He’s shooting 51 percent from the field, nearly 13 percent higher than he was with the Toronto Raptors. To say that he’s been a home run acquisition for them so far is an understatement.
For comparison’s sake, Andre Iguodala, who the Kings briefly offered a four-year, $56 million contract this offseason that would have paid him $14 million annually, is averaging 9.8 points, four rebounds and 4.8 assists a game.
Gay has a player option for $19.3 million next year, but could pass on the bigger pay day next year in order to secure a long-term deal.
Going into the season, the Kings’ new ownership and management groups proved that they are willing to pay what it costs to keep the players they want, agreeing to a max contract with DeMarcus Cousins despite having the ability to wait until the offseason and let him test restricted free agency. They had every right to make him prove himself throughout the year before awarding him that contract, but they believed in him. So far, it looks like the right move.
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Gay’s extension possibilities are complicated by his player option. If long-term security is his top priority, then he’s better off opting out at season’s end and becoming an unrestricted free agent, where the Kings would be able to offer him a five-year contract. If he opted in he could only get an additional three years, but only if agreed to it after July. If he did so beforehand, he could only add on two additional years, as the opt in would count for one. That helps him preserve the $19.3 million payday for next year; if he opts out, his starting salary is highly unlikely to match that. Even if a team was willing to give him the max, it’d be a little less than the opt in figure at $19.2 million.
If Gay’s future was more definitive, the possibility of an extension prior to free agency would be increased. But, his player option basically dictates that he wait until at least after the season. Doing anything before just isn’t smart business. In the end, although both sides have the desire to stay together and the willingness to work out an extension, free agency is where Gay can get his best deal and that’s likely what he’ll be advised to explore.
Humphries has been a steady contributor for the Celtics this season, averaging 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds in 18 minutes of action a game.
As Humphries alluded to, though, he doesn’t know what the plan is in Boston and frankly, nobody outside of Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, and his most trusted colleagues know. The team is in a real state of flux right now with a variety of different routes for Ainge to take them.
It probably won’t be until July 1 that Humphries truly finds out if Boston is interested, but he’s excelling enough in his limited role to ensure that if they aren’t, he’ll be able to find a new home with relative ease.
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The question most of you who aren’t draft or summer league junkies are asking is who is Vander Blue? Blue only played four games in the NBA’s Development League with the Delaware 87ers before earning a shot in the NBA. During that stretch he averaged 19 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He originally was going to spend the season in Israel after being cut in training camp by the Philadelphia 76ers, but now finds himself exactly where he wanted to be in the first place.
Blue went undrafted after leaving Marquette as a junior. Blue decided to leave with a year of eligibility remaining due to his incredible finish to the year in which he led his team to the Elite 8. He’s a combo guard who will remind a lot of people of the aforementioned Bradley, as they have similar strengths and weaknesses. Blue was young for his class and is currently only 21 years old. Catching on with the Celtics long-term may be difficult since Bradley and Bayless are expected back shortly, but the rest of the league will be watching Blue. The next 10 days are almost more about impressing everyone else in the league, especially teams with an open spot in the backcourt, than the Celtics, who may just not have the need for him anymore once his contract expires if Bradley and Bayless are healthy.
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