It's public knowledge that the Sacramento Kings are looking to trade Rudy Gay. The forward has one year and $13.3 million left on his contract, with a player option for 2017-2018 that he is unlikely to exercise, especially if he stays in Sacramento. The Kings are looking to get something for Gay before he walks at season's end for nothing.
On top of that, Gay has been rifting publicly with the franchise, and the latest news has it sounding like Kings GM Vlade Divac is actively trying to move the forward as quickly as a suitable partner emerges, maybe even before the season starts. That partner could very well be the Rockets.
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders said in a report later picked up by NBC Sports that the Rockets are one of the teams with the strongest interest in the 10-season veteran. Here's what Kyler had to say:
"For weeks, there has been talk that Kings forward Rudy Gay could be had in a trade and that despite his ability to be an unrestricted free agent next summer, there are many around the league who believe the Kings will not only move Gay, but that it could happen before training camp starts.
"The problem with trading Gay, who is owed $13.33 million this season, is that the Kings would have to take back some level of salary in the deal and find a team open to taking on Gay in what could be a one-year rental.
"The next hurdle is value. League sources say while there are teams that have expressed interest in Gay -- most notably the Houston Rockets -- getting anything of real value back on what could be a one-year rental at Gay's price tag is hard math to make work.
"There is a sense among league insiders that the Kings are not looking for a ton in return for Gay, so that may make finding a deal a little easier even with all the issues surrounding it."
The 30-year-old Gay averaged 17.2 points per game last season, the second-lowest total of his career, while also snagging 6.5 rebounds, dishing out 1.7 assists and grabbing 1.3 steals per game on 46.3 percent shooting from the field and 34.4 percent from deep.
Despite being past his prime, he's still an accomplished scorer with an 18.6 points per game career scoring average, and he's serviceable enough from downtown (34 percent from his career) that he could be a good fit in the Houston offense. He's also not a terrible defender. He'll never be confused for Trevor Ariza, but as his +0.1 career defensive plus-minus would suggest, Gay is capable of holding his own at right around league average.
The Rockets would definitely need to give up either Ariza or Corey Brewer in return, and would also need to include a minimum of one other piece -- K.J. McDaniels, perhaps? Houston certainly favors moving Brewer over Ariza, if possible, and should certainly consider a deal if the Kings are open to going that route.
Moving Ariza would be a little more difficult for Daryl Morey, with the team already lacking in tough wing defenders, but with the philosophy this season weighing heavily on the offensive side and the 31-year-old Ariza himself not getting any younger, don't rule anything out as the boys in red look to definitively bounce back from last year's disappointing run.