Kings willing to pay to keep Gay?

According to a report Friday, the Sacramento Kings hope to bring back Rudy Gay for next season.

The 27-year-old Gay averaged 20.1 points in 55 games with the Kings this season and posted a career-high 18.40 PER in the process, but he can become an unrestricted free agent if he opts out of his contract that is due to pay him $19.3 million next season.

According to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, though, the Kings will try to keep him even if Gay opts out.

The decision to go out and trade for Gay this season went against the grain, and after the veteran's strong play in Sacramento in 2013-14, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Kings dole out the necessary cash to keep Gay for the foreseeable future.

The big question here is whether Gay's surprisingly strong season may have changed the perception of him (for the better) around the league. If so, the Kings could find themselves in a battle with other teams. And if there's real interest from an East Coast team such as Charlotte, which has the salary space to sign Gay and the need to upgrade at small forward, that could be too much to pass up. A team like the Bobcats would also allow Gay to play for a playoff contender, another factor that could work against the Kings.