Rudy Gay arrived in Sacramento on Monday. Before he and fellow newcomers Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray watched the Kings' 112-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks from a suite, their new general manager and head coach met the media for the first time since the seven-player trade that brought them to town.
Sacramento GM Pete D'Alessandro said that he was under a mandate to increase the talent level on the roster from owner Vivek Ranadive and that the group that was 5-13 prior to the win over the Mavericks wasn't cutting it, via Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee:
"We're not kidding anybody," D'Alessandro said bluntly before Monday's tipoff against the Dallas Mavericks. "We're a long way from being a completed product. We have five wins. We need players here."
While not guaranteeing any more moves, D'Alessandro said that constructing this team would require a different mindset than he had as an assistant general manager with the Denver Nuggets, implying that he's not afraid of making more significant changes, via Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee:
"If you don't embrace change, it's going to be how many years of the same old thing," D'Alessandro said. " ... When you work on a team that had 57 wins (in Denver last season), it's different. You tweak it; you can take out a piece; you plug in a piece; the machine runs. We're trying to build the machine."
The criticism of the trade has centred around the fact that Gay has been an inefficient player for the past few years. This year with the Toronto Raptors, he's averaged 19.4 points but needed to take 18.6 shots per game to get there, shooting 38.8 percent from the field. Without having seen him play with his new teammates, there is concern he will dominate the ball and use up possessions that would otherwise end in Isaiah Thomas or DeMarcus Cousins (who combined for 56 points on 33 shots against Dallas) making a play.
Head coach Michael Malone doesn't appear to be worried about that, via Cowbell Kingdom's Jonathan Santiago:
"In Rudy Gay, you get a 6'10, versatile scorer. And I know everybody's hung up on his 38 percent this year, but if you look at his numbers throughout his career, he's shot well over 45 percent a number of seasons. So I'm not as concerned as a lot of these analytic people get concerned about (Rudy). He's a very talented player. End of games, he can make plays for you. He's versatile. He can score in the post, handling the ball, catch-and-shoot, isolation, so he's talented and we've become a much more talented team with him."
D'Alessandro is aware of the story that the numbers tell about Gay's time in Toronto, and he doesn't think it has to be the same in Sacramento, via Santiago:
"I read everything that everyone reads. We have our processes too and we see things differently. That's just the nature of that ever-growing and ever-expanding game. We look at him differently than maybe others do. I feel like a lot of times with certain players, it's where they're getting the ball, it's where they're scoring, it's the position they're put in. And I think we have a good idea, we're talking as a staff a little bit, we have a good idea of what positions that we'd like to put him in."
That last point is critical. While Gay has repeatedly referred to his shooting struggles as a "slump," a drastic change in his production would require his new team to deploy his talent differently. With the Raptors, Gay was often asked to be a playmaker from the perimeter against a set defense. He'd use screens, but not to much effect, and the offense would quickly bog down. There were lots of contested jumpers when better options didn't became available.
Perhaps the Kings will have him do more from the mid-post, perhaps they'll have him cutting more off the ball and setting screens. Perhaps they'll run more. These are some things to watch for as Malone tries to integrate Gay into his offense.
Gay will make his Sacramento debut on Wednesday when the Utah Jazz visit Sleep Train Arena.