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NBA Free Agency: Rudy Gay could be the Grizzlies' latest huge mistake

May 24, 2010, 12:28 PM EDT

nba_gay.jpgAmong this year’s free agent class, there are the can’t-miss prospects (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh), the impressive consolation prizes (Joe Johnson, Amar’e Stoudemire), and then a third, less illustrious subgroup: those destined to be overpaid.

Carlos Boozer seems a likely candidate as any, as a team with cap space and money to spare will probably end up throwing entirely too much money at a power forward that can score and rebound, but little else.

The same may be true of Rudy Gay, who as a young, talented, free agent, is sure to draw some interest this summer. That last sentence however, comes with a bit of a caveat: whereas guys like LeBron, Joe Johnson, and Carlos Boozer are unrestricted free agents, Gay’s restricted free agent status essentially ensures that if Rudy is going to find himself on a different roster next season, someone will have to overpay him. Otherwise, that team risks the Grizzlies matching their offer to Gay and keeping him at a reduced cost.

There’s just too many teams with available cap space this summer for someone not to take a swing at Rudy Gay. The LeBrons and Wades of this class can only go to so many teams, which will inevitably leave someone out in the cold with no star to call their own. Then, in their moment of vulnerability, a team could conceivably look to invest in Gay as a long-term pillar of their franchise, and they’re doomed to regret that decision down the line.

Rudy Gay is a fine player, but he’s far from an NBA star. He’s a dynamic talent, but whether or not he’s capable of making the jump from good to great is certainly in question. At present, he’s simply well above average, which is nice, but not quite centerpiece material.

No one bother to inform Grizzlies’ owner Michael Heisley of that apparently, who is posturing going into the free agency period. From Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

The Griz are preparing for the June 24 draft with the need for more shooting, versatility, point guard help and their talented, soon-to-be restricted free-agent forward in mind.

Heisley continues to insist that he is prepared to retain Gay at all costs.

“Rudy is going to be out there. But here’s the No. 1 thing: The option on what we pay him is mine,” Heisley said. “So when I say we’re going to have Rudy next year, that’s a pretty good indication that we’re going to have him.”

It’s tough to validate free agent talk at this point in the year, but if Heisley really is intent on retaining Gay no matter the cost, the Grizzlies are in some serious trouble. At present, their best move is likely to let Gay walk and try to move forward while building around O.J. Mayo and Marc Gasol, and locking Rudy up with a long-term deal would eliminate much of their financial flexibility going forward. 

  1. Zack - May 24, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    But use the financial flexibility on who?
    Elite guys arent going to Memphis, so they’d have to give a max contract to just a good player, or overpay for someone else’s RFA.

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