Most NBA teams don’t look at Rudy Gay as a premier objective for them in the upcoming free agency, but both the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics are hoping they can get their hands on the veteran small forward as a cheap way to get quick points off the bench.
Both the Celtics and the Heat seem to be targeting the same players this offseason, if it’s Gordon Hayward, Blake Griffin and now Gay. Gay has been liked quite a lot to Miami throughout the last couple of seasons, not shy when it came to showing his displeasure with the situation in Sacramento. He has played for the Kings since 2013, traded there early in the season from Toronto. He has put up nice numbers (19.3 points in 34.5 minutes per game), but the Kings haven’t done anything, and have pretty much threw away every valuable piece until now so they can start anew.
Gay played only 30 games last season, tearing his achilles in January which shut him down for the rest of the season. The Kings didn’t mind, not expecting to make the playoffs by that point, and Gay got an early exit from a team he didn’t enjoy playing for anymore. Assuming the injury won’t hamper him seriously in the next few seasons, the soon to be 31-year old has a lot to contribute as a scorer off the bench who can play the ‘3’ or a ‘4’ in small ball situations, who probably won’t be demanding anything too cap damaging.
I don’t think Gay is going to be a minimum salary player – he’s not at that stage yet, but with the Celtics having almost $29 million under the cap and the Heat will also be in a very good position to make some meaningful signings once Bosh is removed from their salary cap. Gay, who averaged 18.7 points per game before going down with the injury last season, figures to play in both team’s’ plans. The Celtics, with championship hopes and the Heat with their playoff aspirations (missing the postseason twice in the last 3 years). However, the pieces for Gay’s next team (more candidates will probably appear – never underestimate LeBron James making a pitch) will only fall once the bigger names are off the board.
Gay, the 8th overall pick in 2006 out of UConn, will be entering his 12th NBA season. He has played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings, posting a career average of 18.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He is probably one of the best players in the NBA over the last 15 years to miss out on the All-Star game, never quite establishing himself as one of the very best in his position in the league. However, he has helped Team USA to two World Championship Gold Medals in 2010 and 2014.