Rudy Gay sat near the basket with ice on his left knee after the Kings’ practice Sunday at FedExForum.
The knee has bothered him, but not to the point Gay wants to sit out games. Even in a lost season, he wants to win the last 10 games.
“You get your rest; you find ways to rejuvenate yourself,” Gay said. “What I’ve been inclined to is getting ready for the playoffs. That’s obviously what I want to get back to.”
Instead of the playoffs, the Kings are preparing for next season. That could lead to a different lineup tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies.
“We might sit some guys down, maybe rotate the game differently,” coach George Karl said. “We’ve had a good run, and we want to keep it that way the rest of the season.”
The Kings had won four in a row before losing Friday at New Orleans. They had Saturday off before Sunday’s film session and practice.
Since taking over after the All-Star break, Karl has said the final 30 games would be like an extended training camp, which would mean experimenting with the lineup.
Karl said he’d talk to some of the players to gauge who might sit out.
“I talked to Rudy and Cuz (DeMarcus Cousins) about maybe doing it, maybe just sitting them out one or two games the rest of the way,” Karl said.
Gay has played through a strained left knee, and Cousins has dealt with a strained right calf and sore right foot.
Neither, however, has been eager to sit out games. Cousins is coming off a 39-point, 20-rebound performance.
What bothers Gay more than his knee is the Kings’ absence from the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season.
“Everybody has something (ailing) at this point,” Gay said. “If we were getting ready for the playoffs, we’d still be trying to find ways to get better. We’d be fighting for position.”
Karl said mental rest is as important as physical rest at this stage. He believes the mental break allows players to be more receptive to instruction during film sessions.
As for the physical ailments, Karl avoids harping on them.
“I don’t really like to talk about it,” Karl said. “I tell them all the time, everybody is hurting right now. Everybody’s played 65, 70 games. With your body when you wake up, there’s going to be something that’s sore. The thing is to be professional about how you’re taking care of your body, what you need to do.”
Karl said it takes time for players to know what works best to keep themselves ready to play.
“Learning how to be a pro takes four or five years to get a rhythm,” Karl said. “Going from playing one or two games a week (in college) to playing four or five games is totally different.”
Gay is a veteran and knows how to manage his body to be in the best possible shape, ideally for a postseason push.
“It’s been tough,” said Gay, who last made the playoffs in 2012 with Memphis. “All you can do is keep working and try to get there next year.”