Forward Rudy Gay has told the Kings he will opt out of his contract after this season, meaning he probably will leave as an unrestricted free agent.
In a text message, Gay said he will “play the waiting game” to see what happens next, but he said he is ready for this season. Telling the Kings he was opting out was a formality and not a surprise.
Gay signed a three-year, $40 million extension, with a player option for the third year, early in the 2014-15 season, when the Kings appeared on the rise under then-coach Michael Malone.
Gay was on the trading block this summer, according to multiple league sources. But his ability to opt out of his deal made it difficult for the Kings to acquire equal value in a trade.
Opting out gives Gay, 30, the opportunity to join a playoff contender. It’s unlikely he would re-sign with the Kings, considering the instability that has plagued the franchise.
Malone was fired after Gay signed the deal. When Gay reports to training camp next Monday at the team’s new downtown training facility adjacent to Golden 1 Center, he will play for his fourth coach since the Kings acquired him from the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 9, 2013.
Another factor in Gay’s decision is the NBA’s escalating salaries, which makes the $14.8 million he would earn in the third year of his deal a bargain. Gay signed the extension because at the time he believed the Kings were headed in the right direction with Malone as coach and center DeMarcus Cousins coming into his own.
Cousins has become an All-Star, but the Kings have failed to reach the playoffs the last 10 seasons.
Gay’s production slipped in 2015-16 during a chaotic season under George Karl, who unlike Malone never got the best out of Gay. He averaged 17.2 points last season, down from 21.1 in 2014-15.
Key dates for Kings
- Monday: Training camp opens
- Tuesday: First practice
- Oct. 4: First preseason game, vs. L.A. Lakers, Anaheim, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 10: First home preseason game, vs. Maccabi Haifa, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 26: First regular-season game, at Phoenix, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 27: First home regular-season game, vs. San Antonio, 7:30 p.m.