By now we all know that the Golden State Warriors have two remaining guaranteed roster spots, and will probably only use one of them. And we also know that the team is not itching to make a move, and would rather see how things play out, potentially during training camp.
A key component of “see how things play out” is seeing what players get bought out or waived. The free agency market grows barren within a few days of July starting, but it slowly works in intriguing pieces over the next few months.
One such piece — and a highly-predictable one, at that — is veteran forward Rudy Gay, who was recently waived by the Oklahoma City Thunder, after being used as filler in two different offseason trades: first when the Utah Jazz shipped him to the Atlanta Hawks in the John Collins deal, and then when the Hawks sent him to the Thunder in the Patty Mills trade.
Despite being a 17-year veteran — he was drafted one year after Chris Paul, and one pick ahead of Patrick O’Bryant — Gay has never shared an NBA locker room with any Warriors. Yet they surely have plenty of intel on him. Not only have they played (and coached) against him for years, but Gay was teammates with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson on the Team USA squad that won gold at the 2014 FIBA World Cup, and also teammates with Curry (and Andre Iguodala) on the gold medal-winning 2010 team. Perhaps most importantly, Gay spent four seasons — four recent seasons, critically — playing for the San Antonio Spurs and Steve Kerr’s mentor, Gregg Popovich. If the Warriors are interested in Gay, you can bet that Kerr and Pop have talked about it, and about how he handled the switch from high-volume starter/scorer to veteran bench piece.
That is, in theory, the biggest benefit of Gay: being a trusty and smart vet that can fill the Iguodala role. If the Warriors are interested, it’s likely for the steady veteran presence in the locker room, the behind-the-scenes tutelage for Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, the on-plane shenanigans with Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green, and Chris Paul, and the knowledge that they can throw him onto the court in an emergency and not watch him make careless decisions or wilt.
Which is good, because it’s unclear if Gay has anything left in the tank on the court. He shot a career-worst 25.4% on threes last year, nearly 10 full percentage points below his career average. His field goal percentage was also his worst career mark by quite a bit, and nearly all of his stats show a decline. The one bright side is that his defense remains quite decent.
The Warriors could bank on a bounce-back. On raw statistical analysis alone, that’s a horrible idea, as a 37-year old coming off a season that was by far his worst ever isn’t a situation that inspires any confidence. But he had a fluctuating role on a team that was supposed to be awful but was kind of good and then was bad but was never really contending. Perhaps the Dubs might see a more favorable outcome if he shares the court with a championship core in realistic pursuit of a ring. Or perhaps they just want a trusty veteran emergency option should Andrew Wiggins, Kuminga, or Green suffer an injury at some point.
It’s easy to make the case for Gay, since the Warriors rotation seems pretty set as is, with an 11-player rotation of Curry, Paul, Thompson, Wiggins, Green, Kuminga, Moody, Kevon Looney, Gary Payton II, Dario Šarić, and Cory Joseph. Locker room guys, smart veterans, and players who you know are OK playing limited roles are pretty decent concepts to turn to with your final roster spots.
It’s also easy to make the case against him. He’s old, declining, not a sure thing to stay healthy, not particularly good anymore, and would give us a few months to argue and worry about whether Kerr might turn to him over Kuminga (and yeah ... he might ... and no ... I don’t want that).
If the Dubs want Gay, he’d probably be an easy target. He won’t be signing for more than the veteran’s minimum, and he surely has his eyes on joining a contender after a year of bouncing from lottery team to lottery team. Here’s a staggering stat: Gay is 68th in NBA history in regular season games played, with 1,120. And he’s played in just 19 playoff games, without ever having made it out of the first round.
There’s also a decent chance that Gay goes unsigned, and that the Dubs could bring him to training camp on a non-guaranteed deal to get a better look at him. I won’t predict that Golden State offers him a real roster spot this summer, but if he’s still looking for a team come September, I’m sure plenty of phone calls will be made.
Should the Warriors sign Rudy Gay?
This poll is closed
Only to a training camp deal