Athletic veteran forward Rudy Gay has signed a two-year, $17.2 million deal with the San Antonio Spurs, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports. Per TNT’s David Aldridge, Gay’s contract accounts for the team’s mid-level exception.
Gay, who turns 31 in August, was limited to 30 games for the Sacramento Kings last season due to a torn Achilles tendon. He could have opted in to making $14.3 million in 2017-2018 with the Kings but instead bet on being healthy enough to earn himself a roster spot — and a sizable (though not huge) paycheck — with a contender.
That’s exactly what he’s done. Though he won’t earn close to what he would have with the Kings, he’ll finally be playing for a team with championship aspirations. The former UConn Husky has only ever played in one playoff series, as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies back in 2012.
The 6-foot-8-inch Gay, a career 18.4 points per game scorer, adds length and athleticism to the Spurs lineup. Offensively, Gay is a high-volume player, having averaged at least 14 shots per game in every season since his rookie year.
He can still fill it up on occasion, but is reluctant to give the ball up: Over his 11-year career, Gay has averaged 2.3 assists per game. He will certainly have to adjust his playing style to fit the Spurs’ pass-first system around star forward Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Regardless, this was an important acquisition for the Spurs, who had previously been mentioned as a possible destination for Chris Paul and Paul George, among others. Gay is a versatile wing defender, a good rebounder for his position, a strong finisher at the rim and an important third piece. He can score in both the half-court — operating primarily in the midrange and post — as well as on the break. While not necessarily an outside threat, Gay did hit more than 37 percent of his 3-pointers last season, the second-best mark in his career. Gay’s physical skills are obvious; how he will adapt to the Spurs system is the bigger question.
Coming back from an Achilles injury is no small feat, but if Gay can make a full recovery, he could be a key piece for San Antonio as it makes strides toward dethroning the Golden State Warriors in the West. Having missed out on their initial targets, the Spurs believe they’ve done just that by adding Gay.
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