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Rudy Gay exercises option to stay with Kings next season

Rudy Gay has informed the Kings he will exercise his player option for next season, league sources confirmed to The Bee. Gay will earn $19.3 million in the final year of his contract.

Gay had the option of becoming an unrestricted free agent by opting out of his deal. Gay had until June 30 to decide, but made his decision to give the Kings clarity as they enter Thursday’s NBA Draft.

The Kings would have considered trading for a small forward if they did not think Gay would return.

Any discussions of a contract extension will happen after July 1.

The Kings are hopeful they will reach a deal with Gay this summer to keep him in Sacramento beyond the coming season.

Retaining Gay was the Kings’ top priority this offseason.

Gay was acquired from Toronto as part of a seven-player deal last December. He averaged 20.1 points on 48.2 percent shooting in 55 games.

The Kings see Gay as vital to their success, as his game meshed will with DeMarcus Cousins and gave the Kings a consistent scoring threat at small forward, which had been lacking for some time.

The Kings will turn their attention to Isaiah Thomas, who will be a restricted free agent once the team extends a qualifying offer to the third-year guard.

The Kings have until June 30 to do so.

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