SACRAMENTO (AP) — Sacramento Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro took a calculated risk when he acquired veteran forward Rudy Gay from the Toronto Raptors in a seven-player trade last December.
That risk paid off Wednesday when Gay signed a three-year, $40 million extension to stay in Sacramento through the 2016-17 season.
“When you’re looking at somewhere you can be for an extended amount of years, you look at where you are now and where you could be in the future,” Gay said. “I think this team could be really good in the future.”
The Kings view Gay as a second cornerstone to their franchise alongside center DeMarcus Cousins, who is in the first year of a four-year, $62 million contract extension he signed last summer.
Gay is excelling early, averaging 21.8 points, 3.6 assists and 6.5 rebounds per game. Signing Gay to an extension now eliminates a potential distraction as the season progresses.
“What we have going on here is something different and I think everyone has sensed that from the beginning of the year, from training camp to now,” D’Alessandro said. “We’re really happy and pleased by what we’re seeing as a team and how we’re growing.”
With the backing of the Kings, Gay joined Cousins with Team USA this summer after Indiana Pacers forward Paul George was lost to injury and NBA MVP Kevin Durant stepped away from the team.
“The day that Kevin (Durant) pulled out, Vivek (Ranadive) called me and said, ‘We need you in there’,” Gay recalled. “That really weighed on me. I wasn’t even thinking about it. I didn’t think of the possibility of me doing it. I’ve done it before. But then I thought of what it could do for this team this year.”
Gay and Cousins went on to anchor the national team’s second unit as Team USA won the gold medal in the World Cup in Spain.
The eighth overall selection in the 2006 NBA draft, Gay played the first six-plus seasons of his career in a Memphis Grizzlies uniform before moving on to the Raptors in a mid-season trade on Jan. 30, 2013.
In 51 games with Toronto, Gay struggled to find his shot as a number one option. With a $19.3 million player option looming for the 2014-15 season, the Raptors moved Gay to Sacramento along with Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy for Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes.
Toronto finished last season first in the Atlantic Division before bowing out in the first round of the playoffs.
Gay has found a home in Sacramento alongside Cousins, newly acquired Darren Collison and second-year guard Ben McLemore. All four players are now under contract for the 2016-17 season when the Kings move into their new arena.
The first two seasons of Gay’s new extension are guaranteed, but the third year is a player option that allows the 28-year-old wing to explore his options under the new NBA television contract.
For now, he is happy to be a Sacramento King and sees a bright future for the franchise.
“We’ve made strides to being a good team,” Gay said. “It takes a lot more work, but I do feel like we could be a contender in the West at some point if we keep progressing at the rate we’ve been.”