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Rudy Gay optimistic as he recovers from Achilles’ surgery

hamezcua@sacbee.com

Rudy Gay is an avid shoe collector, but he’s putting a lot more wear on his right shoes these days.

Gay’s left foot mostly has been in a walking boot as he recovers from surgery for the left Achilles’ tendon he ruptured Jan. 18 against the Indiana Pacers. Gay has been rehabilitating from season-ending surgery in Miami but took a break Wednesday to join his teammates in San Antonio, where he saw a much different team lose to the Spurs 114-104.

As he sat in AT&T Center with a red and white Air Jordan XIII on his right foot and a walking boot on the other, Gay was as optimistic about his recovery and his prospects for next season.

“God does things for a reason,” Gay said. “I feel like the reason it happened to me was I needed to get back on my grind, do what I used to do, and I’ve had time to think about things I’ve done wrong and I can do better. I’ve always trained hard, but now I feel like I’ve got to do everything I can to be the best player I can.”

It remains to be seen where Gay will be that player next season. Gay informed the Kings before the start of the season he intended to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent.

Gay said those plans could change due to the injury. He’s on course to be ready for next season but said he’ll decide what to do after an evaluation of his health and his agent’s assessment of the market.

“I’m looking at where I feel most comfortable, where I can showcase my talents and win,” Gay said. “Wherever I think I can do that at, that’s the best place for me.”

When Gay was injured, he and DeMarcus Cousins were were the top players in Sacramento’s quest to end a 10-year playoff drought.

Gay was lost after 40 games, and Cousins was traded to New Orleans at the All-Star break. Now the Kings’ front office is focused on the draft and the future.

“It’s different, but I’ve been around the league for a long time,” Gay said. “Also I’ve been around trades, I’ve been traded, I understand how this league is.”

Gay’s spirits remain high as he attends sessions three days a week in Miami. He said he eventually will continue his recovery in Austin, Texas.

“It’s tough,” Gay said of the workouts, which include strength, range of motion and weight training. “Basically, I’m becoming more aware of my body; I’m understanding things a little better. I’m taking this time to understand my body and not just get back with my foot but the rest of my body, also. It’s given me time to become a better athlete.”

Gay, who had previous Achilles’ issues, said he immediately feared the injury was serious when he went down while driving toward the rim.

“It was just one of those situations where there’s only so much you can do in a situation like that,” Gay said. “I already knew what happened. I was just thinking maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.”

Gay hasn’t gone into a shell. In fact, he is documenting his rehabilitaiton via social media, showing his workouts and his growing Afro.

“It just felt right,” said Gay, who plans to attend a game at Golden 1 Center this season. “It’s one of those things that people see as a really bad injury. I’m just letting people know (my progress), and ever since, I’ve gotten a lot of support from people like Kobe (Bryant), Wes Matthews, Chris Paul. I got a lot of support from people.

“I just felt like people wanted to see what I was going through and how I was going to come back. I was already thinking, I’m going to come back stronger and a better player.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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