Rudy Gay is off the market, having accepted to a 5-year, $80 million contract to remain a Memphis Grizzly (is that the singular?). Gay was a Plan B target for many South Floridians, despite the cold reality that such a union was simply not realistic. I couldn’t seem to stress this enough times and have my reader base actually believe me, but it was nonetheless a virtual certainty.
The manner in which the offer came about, however, is quite interesting (and perhaps foolish). We knew coming in that Gay would be a beneficiary of a bloated free agent contract, piggy-backing off more heralded max players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but few could predict his max contract would have come from his incumbent team on the first day of free agency. The strategy when dealing with your own restricted free agents is to stall and threaten to match any contract any team offers in the hopes of scaring them away, which handcuffs the player and his agent. It is a strategy that worked for the Knicks, to the dismay of David Lee, last season.
The NBA and its players are on a collision course with a potential extended lockout, and when loss-making, small-market teams are signing marginally above average players like Rudy Gay to maximum contracts without batting an eye, it is extremely confounding. Particularly when they don’t need to. But hey, owner Michael Heisley was staunchly committed to the developing small forward, and he got his man.