SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Rudy Gay has gone from a guy who has averaged over 20 points per game, to more of a mentor with the Jazz. Gay took his kids to watch his UConn Huskies with the national title a few weeks ago and played that role with his alma mater.
“I just congratulated them,” Gay said. “I had my kids there, so they got to see the big stage. I told them to soak it in. You know, dad stuff. ‘If you want to be here, you’ve got to work hard.’
Gay is kind of the father figures on the Jazz. Afterall, at 36, he’s a year older than head coach Will Hardy.
“I thought this year coming into it, I knew I was going to be more of a mentor,” said Gay, who averaged a career-low 5.2 points in 56 games, his 17th season in the NBA. “Last year, I felt like I was going to help this team get over the hump. But you’ve got to be resilient and do everything. That’s part of the reason I’m still here, I’m guessing.”
Will he be back next year though? Gay has a 6.5 million dollar player option, and he plans on being in the league somewhere.
“I don’t think I’m done yet,” Gay said. “It’s crazy to think, but I still think I can get better. Do I expect it? Let’s be honest, I didn’t expect to be here this year. So, it is what it is. But I’ve taken a liking to this team. I’ve taking a liking to the guys.”
When Gay signed with the Jazz two years ago, he was hoping to be a part of a championship caliber team. He has played 1,120 regular season the games, the fourth most among active players. But he also has played in just 19 playoff games and has never won a title. But he understands the team is in a rebuild, but is optimistic for the future.
“This has been different from anything I’ve experienced,” he said. “I think we all knew going into it that this was going to be a different year. They made that clear with the decisions they made this summer. Next year, whether I’m here or not, I think this team is really going to be on track to really shock some guys.”