San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay will have to make one of two choices before June 29 this offseason, a) exercise his $8.8 million player option and remain with the Spurs for the 2018-19 season, or b) decline the option and become an unrestricted free agent when the clock strikes midnight July 1.
Let’s dig a bit further into the two options for Gay.
A – Exercise the player option
By exercising the player option, Gay would be committing to playing with the Spurs for another season (barring a trade) after he averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in 57 games with San Antonio.
After suffering a torn left Achilles tendon back in January of 2017 when he was part of the Sacramento Kings team, Gay decided to sign with the Spurs in July on a two-year deal for the non-tax mid-level exception ($17.2 million over two seasons with a player option). In Gay’s season with the Spurs, the coaching staff kept his minutes low (21.6 minutes per game) by having Gay come off the bench during the regular season. Gay’s main reason for missing games during the middle part of the season was due to a right heel injury.
In the playoffs, Gay became a starter at the 4 in the Spurs’ five game round one loss to the Golden State Warriors. Gay saw his minutes increase to 32 minutes per game in the playoffs and his scoring jumped up to 12.2 points, to go along with 5.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists.
By opting into his deal, Gay could give a run with the Spurs another season. Should everything pan out well between the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard, there could be the chance a frontcourt trio of Gay, Leonard, and LaMarcus Aldridge get to play in the playoffs next season together too.
Now, on to Gay’s other choice.
B – Decline the Player Option
If Gay chooses to decline the player option by June 29, he could either sign elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent, or the Spurs could use his non-bird rights and re-sign him up to $10 million annually. If Gay opted out of his deal, the most he could re-sign with the Spurs for would be a $43.3 million deal for four years. That would only be in the event both Gay and the Spurs had mutual interest in such a deal.
If Gay was looking to play elsewhere, the signing team could either sign Gay with cap space or one of their mid-level exceptions. This summer, the non-tax payer mid-level exception will be $8.5 million.
For Gay’s player option decision, June 29 is the final day to watch.