Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro said he owed it to Kings fans to be aggressive after years of suffering through relocation discussions and cost-cutting moves.
The Kings took a bold step away from the frugal ways of the last ownership group by agreeing to acquire forward Rudy Gay as part of a seven-player trade Sunday.
Gay, 27, comes from Toronto with a $17.9 million salary this season and a player option for $19.3 million next season.
The Kings will send Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons and Greivis Vasquez to Toronto as part of the deal. Sacramento also gets forward Quincy Acy and center Aaron Gray.
The NBA must approve the trade today to make the deal official. All players also have to pass physicals.
Gay gives the Kings a wing who is a proven scorer, which the franchise has searched for since the days of Ron Artest.
Gay is averaging 19.4 points this season and averages 18 points for his career. Gay was the eighth overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft by Houston before being traded to Memphis.
Toronto acquired Gay last season from Memphis, a move by former Raptors president Bryan Colangelo, who stepped down from that role last summer. D’Alessandro served as the assistant to Toronto’s new general manager, Masai Ujiri, in Denver last season.
The Kings have been looking to upgrade their athleticism and scoring ability, and Gay (6-foot-8, 230 pounds) will help in both areas. But he does have his critics. Despite his high salary and ability to make highlight plays, Gay has never been an All-Star in his seven seasons.
Gay also has been knocked for playing inefficient offense and having ball-dominant tendencies – the kind of player the Kings have had a lot of lately. Gay is shooting 38.8 percent and averaging 2.2 assists this season.
He is still a major upgrade over the Kings’ recent acquisitions at forward. Considering the talent boost, the Kings will have no problem taking on Gay’s salary. For the Raptors, the trade gives them financial flexibility.
Of the three players going to Toronto, only Hayes has a deal that extends beyond this season.
Likewise, Acy and Gray, seldom-used players in Toronto, can come off the books after this season. Gray will become a free agent while the Kings will have a team option on Acy.
D’Alessandro has been struggling to accept another possible year of futility for the Kings. Sacramento is 5-13, the second-worst record in the Western Conference. Already, the Kings have had losing streaks of six and five games.
It’s a reason D’Alessandro has been actively pursuing deals – this is his second of the season. The Kings dealt Luc Mbah a Moute to Minnesota for Derrick Williams on Nov. 26.
The moves also show that D’Alessandro has no problem dealing players after short stints with the team; Vasquez and Mbah a Moute were both acquired in July.
The deal also drastically alters how the Kings will look on the floor. Isaiah Thomas figures to assume Vasquez’s role as starting point guard, with Jimmer Fredette and rookie Ray McCallum vying for playing time behind Thomas.
Gay and Williams presumably should start to create the space and athleticism the Kings want around center DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins is still the team’s focal point, but Gay should take some of the scoring pressure off starting shooting guard Ben McLemore. He also should help defensively.
The Kings will likely have to go with a makeshift rotation for tonight’s game against the Dallas Mavericks.
Gay was pulled from the Raptors’ starting lineup for Sunday’s game in Los Angeles, where Toronto played the Lakers.
Gay, Acy and Gray are expected in Sacramento today.