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Rudy Gay opts for free agency but should no longer sit in New Orleans Pelicans crosshairs

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DeMarcus Cousins’ former teammate was once a target of Dell Demps. Key word: once.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

According to his agent, Rudy Gay made his intentions known yesterday that he plans to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Sacramento Kings. Such news in years past would have immediately fired up the rumor mill in New Orleans, but we’re living in a vastly different era now.

Two men stand in the way of Gay potentially wearing a Pelicans jersey next season: Solomon Hill and DeMarcus Cousins. Prior to last summer, Gay was often linked to the Pelicans, and rightfully so, the small forward position had a gigantic vacancy sign hanging outside the Smoothie King Center for quite some time. A few may argue it needs further refinement — thanks to Hill’s inconsistent offensive production — but the bigger picture demands the Pelicans focus on the guard positions first.

The Pelicans no longer have a need to add a big scorer, or if you prefer, a Robin to Anthony Davis’ Batman. DeMarcus Cousins, Gay’s former teammate, is a legitimate star in this league, so now it’s all about filling in the rest of the puzzle with good-fitting role players.

While I have little doubt Gay would fit well alongside Big Cuz (hey, who else can get away with slapping Boogie upside the head!), it’s impractical from an economic standpoint. New Orleans must re-sign Jrue Holiday or go after another big fish at point guard first; they cannot allot further big portions of the salary cap on additional forwards.

Gay just said no to over $14.2 million for the 2017-18 season despite in the midst of rehabbing a torn Achilles. The man obviously thinks he’s on the verge of a new contract with plenty of years and cash! While he should be ready to go by next October, it is important to remember Gay will no longer be a spring chicken at age 31.

Kobe Bryant was 34, took close to eight months to return to the court following the same injury and still struggled upon his return (13.8 points and 5.7 turnovers in 29.5 minutes a game). Worse, he only lasted six games before fracturing a bone in his knee, causing him to miss the rest of the 2013-14 campaign. Outside of Michael Jordan, I can’t recall another player who has been known to attack offseason workouts and rehabilitations as fiercely as Kobe, yet his body failed to accomplish the task.

Sorry, no, the time has passed on trying to get Rudy Gay to New Orleans in more ways than one. Taking a gamble on him no longer makes any sense for the Pelicans organization so be sure to place your free agent focus elsewhere.