For two of the Kings’ top three players, this summer is not going to be all about fun in the sun. Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas both have difficult decisions to make regarding their futures in the capital city. The veteran small forward can opt out of the final year of an $82-million deal he originally signed with the Memphis Grizzlies back in 2010. Meanwhile, Thomas will scour the free agent market for a new contract when his three-year deal as a second-round pick comes to an end. Roles and fit will be among a number of factors Gay and Thomas consider as they decide where they’ll play next season. However, familiarity is one factor that the Kings own a clear advantage with over their competition. “This was a chance for him to get to know us,” Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro said recently of the strategy behind acquiring Gay via trade last December. “And I like to think that he says he enjoyed the experience. So, it was a year for us to recruit a player that was already ours. Otherwise, you get those two days at the beginning of free agency where everyone’s running in and it’s harder to sell.” Indeed, the Kings have gotten to know Gay and Gay has gotten to know the Kings. Fortunately for the franchise, communication breakdowns aren’t a problem with this new regime. Transparency is a strong suit of both D’Alessandro and Kings head coach Michael Malone and they’ve left a strong impression in that department with all of their players, including Gay. “They’ve done things for me this season that I can’t say any other organization has done,” said Gay, who dealt with the pending arrival of his first-born son during the final weeks of the regular season. “Obviously, every other organization is different, (but) they’ve really taken to the family aspect of the team. I think all the great teams, all the great organizations, they have that. And if this team wants to get better, we have to grow as a family.” On its surface, the Kings recent history of eight-straight losing seasons would appear to seriously handicap their cause with Gay. But those who closely spent time in Sacramento with the veteran small forward believe that the stench of a losing record isn’t what made a lasting impact on Gay’s perception of the Kings.
Sacramento Kings own incumbent advantage with free agency looming for Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas
Cowbell Kingdom | Apr 26