NBA Free Agents 2010: Top Destinations For Memphis Grizzlies' Rudy Gay
For NBA teams who aren't able to sign someone like Lebron James, Chris Bosh or Dwayne Wade this off-season, Rudy Gay may become the ultimate consolation prize during this summer's free agency period.
Gay is a restricted free agent this summer, which means the Memphis Grizzlies can match any other team's offer in order to retain him.
Many teams covet Gay because he is essentially a watered-down version of Lebron James. Last year, Gay averaged just under 20 points per game to go along with six rebounds per contest.
Gay's player option contract is worth $4.4 million next season, and he should see a significant increase in that number by the end of the summer.
Here are the most likely destinations for Rudy Gay this off-season.
5. Chicago Bulls
If Chicago is unable to sign Lebron James, Rudy Gay would be a perfect compliment to the youthful Bulls.
Gay is only 23 years old, and he would fit in perfectly with point guard Derrick Rose and power forward Joakim Noah.
Chicago can afford to give out two max contracts this summer, and they might be giving one of those to Gay if they fail in landing James.
4. New Jersey Nets
Like Chicago, New Jersey can also give out two monstrous contracts this summer.
The Nets are also very young, and Gay would join a young core of players that currently includes Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. With that young trip set in place, I don't think the Nets would come anywhere near the 70 losses they endured last season.
New Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has talked a lot about being smart in the way he spends his money.
Adding Rudy Gay would certainly be money well spent.
Minnesota is a possible destination for Gay to land in for many reasons.
First, they can afford to give Gay a contract that Memphis would not match. Minnesota currently sits with a $35 million cap number for next year, so they have plenty of room to wheel and deal.
Secondly, Gay would instantly become the go-to player in Minnesota. He would immediately take Ryan Gomes' starting position at small forward.
Lastly, Minnesota would become very competitive with the addition of Gay to their lineup. Their starting five would possibly feature Jonny Flynn, Corey Brewer, Gay, Kevin Love and Al Jefferson.
That lineup would consist of five players all at or younger than the age of 25, but it would be an exciting team to watch in the near future.
I'm putting the Heat in this spot because they could lose Dwayne Wade. However, you could just as easily put Cleveland or Atlanta in this spot as well if they can't retain their stars.
Miami's cap situation is the best out of all three of these teams, so they could afford to not only retain Wade, but sign Gay as well.
Gay would fill a much needed void if Wade departed from South Beach. If Wade stays, Gay could certainly become the player that puts them over the top in the eastern conference.
Gay doesn't command the enormous deal that Lebron will receive, but he is a very productive player, and Miami would be smart to spend smart money on him.
Of course, there is always the possibility that Gay stays with Memphis for one more season.
It might serve him well to do so. With the star-laden talent of this year's free agency class, Gay could certainly garner greater attention and a bigger contract next summer.
Memphis currently sits at $47 million in cap considerations for next season, so they can definitely afford to give their young star a much-deserved raise.
Not to mention, Memphis is also a young team that is improving. The Grizzlies saw their win total jump by 16 last year.
O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph are all good pieces for Memphis, but they must retain Gay if they want to improve more next season.