Sacramento Kings players weigh in on Rudy Gay trade
The home locker room at Sleep Train Arena was a little less crowded than usual Monday night. A result of another blockbuster trade by the Sacramento Kings’ front office.
“I mean shootaround was very empty this morning,” Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said following last night’s win over the Dallas Mavericks. “It was quieter than normal. And of course it felt weird, but that’s the nature of this business.”
Change is a concept that’s come sweeping Sacramento over the last two weeks. Once again, the Kings front office pulled the trigger on another major deal, this time upgrading their talent at small forward by acquiring swingman Rudy Gay along with bigs Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray from the Toronto Raptors. Yesterday’s move once again brings major turnover to a team looking to revamp its roster.
“Versatility,” Cousins said of what Gay brings to the Kings. “He’s an older guy. He knows how to play the game and he has a lot of experience in this league. So, bringing all that to the team, it’s gonna help us out a lot.”
Gay comes to the Kings after averaging 19.4 points on 38.8-percent shooting from the field and 7.4 rebounds in 18 games with the Raptors this season. Questions remain about how he’ll fit with the Kings, especially considering his career-high 30.4-percent usage rate this year.
When asked, Cousins wouldn’t get into whether the addition of Gay might affect his touches on offense. He is hopeful that the structure the Kings are building under coach Michael Malone will allow the 27-year-old forward to work well in Sacramento.
“We have our gameplans here and we have a system,” said Cousins, who entered last night’s game leading the the Kings and the league in usage rate at 34.7 percent. “Coach is going to do the best job of putting us in the position that he thinks is best. Whatever that may be, that’s what we’re gonna go with.”
Isaiah Thomas is excited by the prospects of his team’s recent moves. Not only does Thomas get back his starting gig due to the departure of Greivis Vasquez, but the 24-year-old point guard also gets another athletic option to pass to on the wing.
“It makes us an athletic team,” Thomas said when asked what he likes most about the blockbuster deal. “We want to get out in transition and having those guys, it’s gonna be tough to guard. Especially if we get stops and we get out in transition. You got Ben over here, you got Derrick Williams, you got Rudy Gay…”
The addition of Gay also benefits Thomas’ approach to the game. Last night, Thomas recorded a career-high 12 assists to go along with 24 points largely due to pushing the pace against the Mavs.
“These guys that come in, they favor my style of play,” Thomas said. “Like I said, I like to get out in transition and these guys like to do it too. I have a lot of options and it’s wonderful for me right now.”
Derrick Williams has been in Sacramento for just two weeks, but he’s seen enough to like the direction the Kings are headed. Williams has played primarily small forward for the Kings since arriving via trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, but may see some added time at power forward due to the addition of Gay. He isn’t too concerned with how his role might change going forward.
“I think it doesn’t matter what position we’re playing – three or the four,” Williams said after scoring a career-high 31 points in yesterday’s blowout of the Mavs. “I think it’s gonna add mismatches all over the court. And the big thing is getting the double teams off of DeMarcus…If they double team, we have guys that can shoot the ball all around the court.
“With Rudy, it just adds another attack for our offense,” Williams added.
For the most part, Kings players seem to be embracing the change. They may not like to see teammates, who they’ve cultivated friendships and connections with, go on such short notice. But if deals like the one completed yesterday make the Kings better for tomorrow, there’s really no reason to object.
“I think we’re really being aggressive,” Williams said. “Trying to get good guys who can fit in our rotation. They made an excellent trade in the (front) office and I can’t wait to see what those guys can do out there as well.”