Examining trade possibility of Rudy Gay to the Houston Rockets

Apr 11, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) smiles while sitting on the bench in the second half against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Sacramento Kings won 105-101. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) smiles while sitting on the bench in the second half against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Sacramento Kings won 105-101. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /

If the Rockets were to trade for Rudy Gay, who would they give up and more importantly, where would he fit in the new D’Antoni-system?

The Sacramento Kings front office has been trying to move versatile small forward, Rudy Gay for sometime now. With one-year, $13.3 million left on his three-year extension, the Kings are looking to move the 10-year veteran.

Sacramento acquired Rudy Gay in an eight-player trade with the Toronto Raptors. The Kings hoped to see one of the best two-way players in the game live up to his potential. Despite playing on a team that has gone 84-142 in his time there, Gay has consistently put up solid numbers. He averaged over 20 points per game in his first two seasons and finished last year registering per game averages of 17.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.4 steals while shooting 46% percent.

With the Kings in a rebuild mentality Gay has been a target of several teams, specifically the Rockets. As per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Sport Buzz,  Gay has made it known he would prefer to go the the Miami Heat.  Notably the problem arising is for Sacramento to get valuable assets in return.

"According to an associate, the Heat is among teams that very much appeal to Sacramento forward Rudy Gay, who has been available in trades. But Miami likely lacks the tradable assets to acquire him if it wanted to and his $14.2 million player option for 2017-18 is worrisome. Players signed this month in free agency cannot be traded until Dec. 15."

The Rockets have a few players that the Kings may be willing to take, while not dismantling their roster for a player who has what many consider to be a low value of return.

What a trade for Gay would look like?

A trade for Gay could add a lot of upside to a Rockets team that is desperately looking to return to their 2014-2015 form in which they won 56 games on way to the Western Conference Finals. Houston already made big moves in adding power forward Ryan Anderson and shooting guard Eric Gordon, and adding Gay would continue to push the Rockets in the right direction.

Feb 27, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson (33) celebrates with teammates guard Jrue Holiday (11) and guard Eric Gordon (10) after scoring against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Pelicans 112-110. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not like the Rockets organization is unfamiliar with Rudy Gay. In 2006, the Rockets selected Gay with the eighth overall pick. Houston then traded the Connecticut swing man to the Memphis Grizzlies for Rockets fan-favorite Shane Battier.  At the time the Rockets were in win-now mode vs. win-later. The Rockets know what Gay can do, but what will it take to get him here?

The  Rockets would likely have to trade Corey Brewer, who is owed over $15 million through the next two seasons. Houston would also have to throw in one of their top prospects, with K.J. McDaniels figuring most likely What McDaniels has shown is promising: an explosive attacker at the rim, a lock-down defender at times and, if nothing else, a jolt off the bench who could jump start a team with his energy.

Brewer’s past season for the Rockets is one to forget. He averaged 7.2 points per game while appearing in all 82 games on the Rockets bench. His shooting was less than desired, connecting on less 40% percent from the field (38 percent) and 30% percent from deep (27 percent). But, he still has the ability to slash to the basket which the Kings are looking to add to their squad.

Ideally Houston would rather not lose starting small forward Trevor Ariza for Gay. While Ariza, 31, isn’t getting any younger, he still brings several assets to the team, and will continue to do so entering his 13th season. Everyone knows Ariza is one of the best one-on-one defenders in the league. In addition, Ariza has been consistent for Houston over the last two years, shooting over 40 percent from the field and last year hit 37% percent from beyond the arc. He offers the Rockets a great fit in Mike D’Antoni’s system as a player who brings great defense and can knock down shots in transition or run a fast break himself.

Where would Gay fit with the Rockets?

None of this matters if Gay can’t find a productive spot with Houston. The Rockets are already expected to start Patrick Beverley, James Harden and Ariza on the perimeter with Anderson and Clint Capela on the inside. If Houston trades Brewer, that opens up a spot on the bench for Gay that he would fit perfectly.

With Rudy Gay coming off the bench, the Rockets could bring in one of the best second units in the league that closely matches the offensive power of the starters. D’Anotni would have Gordon at the three-point line waiting to knock down treys, Nene Hilario on the inside with the ability to make a post move or knock down a mid-range jumper and Rudy Gay in charge of it all as a point-forward.

As of now, the Rockets backup point guard is newly added Pablo Prigioni. But at 39 years old, health and consistency becomes an issue. Gay’s skill set allows him to take over as a floor facilitator if need be. His ball handling ability, along with his passing and 6-foot-8, 230 pound build would make him a good fit for the Rockets bench.

On offense, Gay can get to the basket and finish. With the Rockets’ roster filled with three-ball threats, he also can pass out to an open shooter. Additionally, he has no problem running the fast break or bringing the ball up the court. In Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offense, this talent becomes essential. Gay also has the size to play the four when the Rockets look to go small. With Gay in the post, surrounded by Harden, Beverley, Anderson and Gordon, the Rockets could easily run off double-digit scoring runs in a matter of a few possessions, especially if they are pushing pace or  running in transition.

Defensively, Rudy Gay is an above average defender. While he’s no Ariza, he certainly would be a nice addition to a team who’s biggest criticism last year was defensive effort. Add Gay to an already solid pair of defensive specialist like Ariza and Beverley and those criticisms could be a thing of the past. His quick hands, 1.3 career steals per game, also would  give more possessions to Houston with increased fast breaks, all things complimentary to the D’Antoni seven-seconds-or-less offense.

Bottom line:

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While certainly not in the prime of his career, Gay still has plenty to offer teams, and the Kings are desperate to move him. The Rockets need to bite the bullet and offer Brewer and McDaniels for Gay. As talented as Gay is, it would be a mistake to offer Ariza as part of the deal. He brings a tough-defensive mindedness to the team and a valuable veteran voice, along with being one of the most beloved teammates in the league.

The Kings may not move Gay in the immediate future. Rather, they may wait until the opening weeks of the season. Most teams have a tendency to over value their roster in the offseason, resulting in the Kings not getting a fair return for Gay. Sacramento will move Gay, and if the Rockets don’t get him, here’s hoping he doesn’t go to conference rivals the Oklahoma City Thunder or the San Antonio Spurs, two teams who have already expressed heavy interest in Gay.

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