In his first year as the Kings’ coach, the last thing Dave Joerger wants to address daily are questions concerning player movement – particularly trade rumors.
But the NBA is a business of change, and Kings forward Rudy Gay has been discussed as a trade piece for a franchise trying to get better, specifically halting an 10-year playoff drought.
The news cycle this week includes national reports of the Kings trading Gay and point guard Darren Collison to the Miami Heat for point guard Goran Dragic. The internet reports that cited league sources left Joerger frowning after Wednesday’s practice.
This much is certain: After this season, Gay will opt out of the final year of his contract, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. Besides an expiring contract, he has trade appeal because he is a skilled 6-foot-8 shooter.
But how much of Gay to Miami – or anywhere – is true?
“I wake up every day and get ready to play the next game,” Gay said after practice Wednesday. “I’m with the Sacramento Kings. I prepare as if I’m going to be with the Sacramento Kings. I have no choice but to work for the Sacramento Kings.
“All the speculation is BS. Really, it’s out of my control. I’ll come here and be with my teammates and act as if I’ll be here all year.”
Gay acknowledged he’s aware of the rumors.
“I hear it,” he said. “I’ve been traded before. If I came here (to practice) as if I didn’t want to be here, I wouldn’t help my teammates. That’s a league thing. That’s not just me. That’s something you don’t want a reputation for (quitting on your team).”
Gay averaged career highs of 21.1 points and 3.7 assists with the Kings in 2014-15, but those numbers dipped to 17.2 and 1.7 last season amid a season of team turmoil.
Gay said he likes playing for Joerger, an assistant coach during the forward’s stint with the Memphis Grizzlies. Joerger said he plans on having Gay in the lineup opening night Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns.
Joerger dismissed any Miami trade talk but added he understands the nature of pro sports.
“It’s part of the business,” he said. “I don’t know who puts that stuff out there. What source? Pick a source. I’m not going to sit here and speculate.”
Joerger added, “(Gay’s) a wonderful human being who’s grown as a player and a leader. He likes it here. We all want to win a little bit more. There’s going to be rumors. Guys in the last year of contracts, guys 6-8 who can do the things he does (on the court).”
Joerger said he feels for players attached to trade speculation.
“Sometimes it’s easier to take shots at teams that haven’t been successful and pick off and create speculation,” he said. “I let it roll off me. It’s easy to tell a player to let it go. It’s a lot more difficult when you live it, when you’ve got kids and family and people are talking about your future. It’s happened to me, too.”
Lawson: ‘Everything’s good’ – Kings guard Ty Lawson, who missed Saturday’s preseason game against the Washington Wizards in Lexington, Ky., didn’t shed any light on why he missed the team’s flight.
“Everything’s good,” Lawson said after Tuesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in which he made 1 of 6 shots and had five points and four assists in 24 minutes.
As for meeting with Joerger and general manager Vlade Divac after missing the flight, Lawson said, “It was good. Had a conversation and that was it. Coach is cool with it. GM is cool with it, so I’m cool with it. There was no letdown. Personal issue. We’re all good.”
As for a possible fine, Lawson said, “That’s up to the GM and the coaches. Haven’t heard anything yet. I’m ready to go, for the regular season to start.”
Transaction – The Kings waived swingman Lamar Patterson, who averaged 5.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.0 steals in four preseason games. The team must make two more roster cuts before the opener.