San Antonio Spurs made the right choice by returning Rudy Gay
By Dylan Carter
Although it didn’t come as a surprise, the San Antonio Spurs’ re-signing of forward Rudy Gay sends a message that the team believes in its core and culture.
Ridiculed throughout his career without claims of a limited skill set, small forward Rudy Gay has finally found a team that nurtures and hones everything that he brings to the table. At 32 years old, Gay spent 13 years in the league before finding a home in the Alamo City. The San Antonio Spurs added Gay to the roster coming off of a devastating Achilles tear suffered during his time in Sacramento and helped him to fulfill his true potential.
Gay hit career-highs in field goal percentage (50.4 percent), three-point percentage (40.2 percent) and effective field goal percentage (55.4 percent) in a fluctuating role under Gregg Popovich. With his former teammate and friend DeMar DeRozan joining the team, Gay took on a plethora of responsibilities including but not limited to floor spacing, secondary playmaking, defending multiple positions and isolation scoring.
As a result of his adjustments, Gay earned himself a heft payday at the start of free agency. As announced by news breaker Shams Charania of The Athletic, San Antonio re-signed Gay to a two-year, $36 million contract. Utilizing his early bird rights, the Spurs were able to sign Gay without impacting their Mid-Level Exception, which was partially allocated to wing DeMarre Carroll.
Free agent Rudy Gay plans to sign a two-year, $32M deal to return to the San Antonio Spurs, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 30, 2019
General manager R.C. Buford made a clear indication with the signing that he and the Spurs are confident in their ability to compete in the heated Western Conference. Gay had a few poor showings in the playoffs but finished strong and ended up hitting his triples at a 42.1 percent clip while averaging playoff career-highs in rebounders per game with 7.1 boards and a 45.7 percent eFG%.
With point guard Dejounte Murray returning to the lineup after rehabilitating a torn ACL, the Spurs will boast newfound depth heading into next season. Carroll will immediately provide more than either of Dante Cunningham or Quincy Pondexter could as backup forwards while the rookie class from last season compete for minutes in Pop’s rotation.
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The first full season of the post-Kawhi Leonard era in San Antonio ended in devastating fashion – a first-round exit after an incredible comeback in Game Seven against Denver. If a shot or two dropped in the favor of the Spurs, we’d be talking about this team as a Western Conference playoff contender after matching up against Portland.
Gay’s signing signals the Spurs’ dedication to competitiveness despite adding three young players in the 2019 NBA Draft. The youth movement is brewing, and this organization is setting itself up nicely for the future, but they hope to keep their group intact and combine the youth with seasoned and well-adjusted veterans.
The Spurs are known for helping players age and continue to expand their game as they reach the apex of their careers. Gay is the perfect example of this – he bought into team culture, learned from the team’s coaching staff and expanded his all-around game.
As a result of his hard work and progress, the team gave him the payday he desired without compromising their future.