Rudy Gay opts in with Sacramento Kings

Rudy Gay with a smile against the Toronto Raptors. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

The Sacramento Kings won round one of the offseason this afternoon when veteran wing Rudy Gay opted into the final year of his contract.  The 27-year-old Gay had until June 30 to decide on whether to exercise an early termination clause in his contract or stay in Sacramento for the 2014-15 season at $19.3 million.

Gay came to Sacramento in December as part of a massive seven-man deal with the Toronto Raptors.  In 55 games with the Kings, Gay averaged 20.1 points on 48.2 -percent shooting and chipped in 5.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.

A person with knowledge of the situation has told Cowbell Kingdom that the Kings are extremely excited by the news and hope to work toward a possible extension with Gay’s team after July 1.

According to salary cap expert Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ, “veteran extensions are limited to four seasons, including the seasons remaining on the current contract. Even if the extension is signed in late June, the current season counts as one full season toward the total.”

By waiting until July 1, the day the 2014-15 season officially begins, Gay becomes eligible for a full four-year extension beginning with the 2015-16 season.

The Kings hosted Gay on June 10 and came away with a positive feeling that he would be back for another season in Sacramento.  Now it’s on the Kings to build around Gay and 23-year-old center DeMarcus Cousins in the coming weeks through the draft and free agency.

Knowing that he wanted Gay back in the fray, Cousins reached out to his wing-man through this process.

“We’ve talked, and he knows that I want him back,” Cousins told the Sacramento Bee earlier this week.

The Kings can now walk into Thursday’s draft knowing that they have a major piece of their roster intact.  The team will extend a qualifying offer to point guard Isaiah Thomas by the June 30 deadline, making the third member of its big three a restricted free agent.  Once the qualifying offer is in place, Sacramento will have the option of matching any deal he receives on the open market.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports was first to break news of Gay’s decision.

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About: James Ham

James Ham is co-owner and senior editor of Cowbell Kingdom, providing extensive Kings coverage through news analysis, in-depth interviews with players and staff and daily coverage of breaking news. Along with providing original content for the site, including the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast and his weekly Sunday Musings column, James also provides game day coverage for NBA.com and is one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart".