Sacramento Kings leadership encouraged Rudy Gay’s return to USA Basketball

Sacramento Kings' Rudy Gay watches on. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)After a two-year hiatus, Rudy Gay is back with USA Basketball.  The Sacramento Kings starting small forward was added to USA’s pool of players following the departures of Paul George and Kevin Durant from the roster.

Gay credits Vivek Ranadivé, Chris Mullin and his agent Alex Saratsis for his return to USA Basketball.  The Sacramento Kings wing told media in Chicago yesterday that he was encouraged by those three in particular to make himself available to the program when the opportunity arose last week.

“They all really talked me into…really trying to get back out here and play for USAB,” Gay said to gathered media at the Quest MultiSport Complex in Chicago.

According to some reports on the scene, Gay spent time playing on the same team as All-Stars Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, James Harden and Anthony Davis.  That could potentially be USA’s starting lineup come tip-off at the World Cup on Aug. 30.  However, Gay would not speculate if that turns out to be true.

“We don’t know,” the Sacramento Kings forward said to reporters. “That is the thing about Coach K… He keeps that in his back pocket, you know, until it is go time… But you know, whoever it is, whoever starts will be competitive.”

Gay’s experience within the USA Basketball program is just one reason why he’s likely in strong consideration for a spot on the World Cup team.  His versatility to play both forward positions in international play is another.

“Obviously with Rudy stepping in as another wing guy, we feel we still got the talent and pieces we need to win a gold,” Curry said to reporters of the Sacramento Kings small forward. “It is just a little swapping of positions when it comes to who is going to play the one through four. We got guys who are pretty versatile, that can play a lot of different positions, so we are really strong right now and feel the energy level and the intensity during our practices kind of shows that.”

Even if Gay doesn’t make the roster, he still stands to gain plenty from the opportunity.  The Sacramento Kings veteran noted that playing against the elite competition he’s facing this weekend in Chicago can only help him in his preparation for the upcoming NBA season.

“Getting into game shape and not just your wind-wise, but mentally (also),” Gay said to reporters.  “You know, when you are going out there competitively trying to win something…it kind of gets your mind in that state to where you have to be ready, almost like the season.”

Teammate DeMarcus Cousins made headlines yesterday after suffering an injury to his right knee.  However, Cousins wasn’t the only member of the Sacramento Kings to walk out of yesterday’s workout banged up.  Gay noted that he took an accidental shot to the face from former Toronto Raptors teammate DeMar DeRozan.

“You know my old teammate (busted) my lip,” Gay said to reporters. “but other than that…it was pretty cool. It’s good. During the summer you really can’t find much competitive play like this. This is the best place to do it.”

Quotes from USA Basketball were used to write this story.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.