A phone conversation with San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was all veteran free-agent Rudy Gay needed to sign with the team. According to the San Antonio Express-News, Popovich called Gay on July 1 to inquire about his availability. When Gay told Popovich that he’s still available, the veteran head coach told him not to sign with another team, but to come there. “The more we talked, he just talked about the possibilities. What kind of player I could be. What kind of player he thinks I am, and how I can help this team,” said the 31-year-old Gay, adding that joining the Spurs were a “no-brainer.”

Popovich’s phone call to Gay proved to be magical as he agreed to a two-year, $17 million deal with the Spurs.

For Gay, signing with the Spurs was a “do-or-die” point in his career, saying that he wanted to be with an organization known for winning and can help raise his game to another level. According to Spurs general manager R.C. Buford, Gay was a top priority for the team since Day 1 of the free-agency period. While he admitted that Gay still needs to recover from a ruptured left Achilles’ tendon, the Spurs’ interest in Gay was consistent from the very start.

Gay expected to be ready by training camp

Gay is expected to be ready to return to action before training camp starts at the end of this month. He recently completed rehabilitation on his left Achilles tendon, which he injured in January. “I’m feeling great,” Gay told the San Antonio Express-News.

“I know a lot of people say that. I don’t think you’d expect me to say anything else. But I actually feel great.” The injury limited Gay to just 30 games with the Sacramento Kings last season where he averaged 18.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Despite his injury, Gay declined his $14.2 million player option for the 2017-18 season and tested the free-agent market.

Gay willing to play sixth-man role with Spurs

A known scorer during his stints with the Memphis Grizzlies, the Toronto Raptors and the Kings, Gay averaged 18.4 points in 753 career games but he was never selected to the All-Star Game Gay said he’s willing to do any role that Popovich will give him, including coming off the bench as a sixth man, a role that Manu Ginobili has occupied for years.

According to Gay, he talked to Spurs’ superstar Kawhi Leonard during the offseason and discussed ways on how he can contribute to the team’s cause. “If I’m a sixth man, I’m going to be the best sixth man in the league. If I’m a starter, I’m going to try and be one of the best small forwards in the league,” Gay emphasized.