The Sacramento Kings‘ worst fears unfortunately came true Thursday night, when MRI results confirmed that forward Rudy Gay suffered a torn Achilles late during the third quarter of the previous night’s game against the Indiana Pacers. The fully ruptured left Achilles will force Gay to miss the remainder of the season and will have a big impact around the league.
The loss of Gay is obviously a big blow to the Kings as they attempt to make their first playoff appearance since 2006 (they were just 1.5 games back for the 8th seed in the West the night of the injury). Gay was the team’s second leading scorer (18.7 PPG), second leading rebounder (6.3 RPG), tied for 4th on the team in assists (2.8 APG), led the team in steals (1.5 SPG), and was second on the team in blocks (0.9 BPG) prior to the injury. That is high-quality production that the Kings will be missing as a result of his injury and it could significantly hinder their playoff hopes.
However, the injury also serves as a big blow to the many teams who likely would’ve had interest in acquiring him via trade or free agency. Gay was in the second year of a 3-year contract with a player option after the second year. After reports that Gay was guaranteed to opt out of his player option at the end of this season and was unlikely to return to the Kings surfaced in September, the likelihood of the Kings trading him by the trade deadline was fairly high.
The 30-year-old was likely going to be one of the most sought after players at this year’s trade deadline and off-season. A career 18.4 PPG scorer, Gay has been one of the more reliable scorers in the league in his 11 NBA seasons and he is also a decent rebounder and defender. Teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat, Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, and Portland Trail Blazers are just some of the teams who could’ve presented the Kings with some considerable, intriguing trade propositions for Gay. Each could have used a player of his caliber and versatility to improve their team this season and beyond. However, any trade for Gay is now officially off the table, which means any assets the Kings may have gotten in a trade is as well.
Finally, besides having to spend likely the next 6-9 months rehabbing his injury, Gay’s options this off-season may become more limited as a result of the ruptured Achilles. Achilles injuries are one of the toughest to come back from, so some teams may get put off by the idea of signing a player who will turn 31 this summer and also coming off such a serious injury. Granted, Wesley Matthews suffered a similar injury in 2015, but still managed to land a max deal of 4 years, $70 million with the Dallas Mavericks; however, he was only 28 at the time and had less NBA miles on his legs than Gay does.
Perhaps Gay can land himself a similar deal due to the massive cap increase, which would justify his previous decision of opting out early. Or he can decide to opt into the final year of his contract with the Kings, look to prove himself & show he’s still an effective player, and hope to cash in even more next summer instead.
Whatever ends up happening, one thing is for sure — the Rudy Gay injury changes a lot. We know it greatly affects Gay and the Kings, but it will be interesting to see, over the next several months, how much it will also effect other teams and other players who are also set to enter free agency this July.