Gay just completed his 15th NBA season and his fourth with the Spurs after initially joining the team as a free agent in the 2017 offseason.
Last season, Gay was a core part of the Spurs’ bench rotation, where he mainly played as the backup four and sometimes played as a small-ball five.
Gay was consistent with the production he brought to the team, logging 63 games 22 minutes per game. He scored 11.4 points per game while shooting 42 percent from the floor and 38 percent from the 3-point line. Along with Patty Mills, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker IV, Gay was one of the top four Spurs the team relied on for outside shooting on a night-to-night basis.
While the Spurs have gone away from including many post-up possessions in their offense, Gay was tied with DeRozan for most post-ups on the team with 80, and he shot 53.8 percent on those post-ups. Being able to throw the ball to Gay in the post was something the Spurs could try if their initial sets on a possession didn’t work out.
Gay also collected 4.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, one turnover, and he was in the top five on the team among rotation players in per-36 metrics like deflections, steals, defensive field goal percentage, blocks, and defensive rebounds.
Opponents scored 9.2 fewer points per 100 possessions according to CleaningTheGlass.com (which removes garbage time from their data) when Gay was on the floor.
San Antonio Spurs: Rudy Gay’s Contract Projection
Last season, Gay earned $14.5 million with the Spurs. According to ProFitX, Gay’s production last season was equal to that of a player making $14.2 million last season, meaning Gay’s production narrowly missed his contract amount.
ProFitX is a dynamic financial and performance index powered by Artificial Intelligence with front-office optics displaying 17 visual and time-series models for 480-plus NBA athletes. The Athledex models historical, dynamic, and future performance data to monitor and project insights on contracts, performance, injuries, team fit, development, and potential. Follow them on Twitter at @ProFitXAI and on Instagram.
ProFitX projects Gay’s next deal to be between $9 million and $11.8 million in annual salary. Gay will be turning 35 in August.
The question will be whether the Spurs should try to re-sign Gay and whether or not Gay wants to return to San Antonio or go to a current playoff team.
For the Spurs, they’ll have a projected $50 million in cap space, so they could make a contract work if Gay wanted to return. However, the Spurs also need to decide when Luka Samanic will get rotation minutes.
Samanic basically plays the same position as Gay at the four and Gay is always ahead of him in the rotation. The Spurs only have this coming season and the 2022-23 season to figure out whether Samanic will be part of the organization long-term because he’ll be entering restricted free agency in 2023-24.
If the Spurs don’t work to re-sign Gay, it could be a sign the team is ready to give Samanic a larger role next season and make him part of the rotation.
As for Gay, if he wanted to move on from the Spurs, most playoff teams that aren’t luxury tax teams will be above the salary cap and can offer the non-tax mid-level exception of $9.5 million, which fits Gay’s contract projection.
If a luxury tax team wanted to sign Gay, he’d have to be willing to take a pay cut because the most money a tax team can offer is the taxpayer mid-level exception of $5.9 million.
Some playoff teams like the Knicks, Heat, and Mavericks could also have enough cap space to sign Gay. Still, it’s unknown, aside from reports Miami had an interest in Gay near the trade deadline, if those teams would look to sign Gay.
Data used from NBA.com/stats and Basketball Reference.