When the Wizards faced the new-look Memphis Grizzlies for the first time, new acquisitions Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis, and Austin Daye all made their Memphis debuts. While Davis and Daye only played a combined seven minutes, Prince made a splash in his debut, scoring 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 31 minutes in the Grizzlies’ 85-73 win.
The centerpiece of the trade that brought the trio to Memphis was Baltimore-native Rudy Gay, who was traded to the Toronto Raptors. Throughout the season, Gay’s name was constantly brought up in trade rumors, including with the Washington Wizards.
Just last month CSN Bay Area’s NBA Insider Ric Bucher said the Wizards made an offer for Gay, and according to Bucher’s league source the offer was a “good one”.
When new owner Robert Pera recently purchased the Grizzlies, he it made abundantly clear that cutting costs would be essential, as a small market team like Memphis couldn’t possibly afford to pay Gay, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph without facing financial penalties. First they traded Marreese Speights, Josh Selby, Wayne Ellington, and a protected first-round pick to Cleveland for backup big man Jon Leuer, a move that immediately got the team under the league’s tax line for this season. The next move was trading Gay, the longest-tenured member of the Grizzlies.
Rudy Gay is a talented and athletic player, who at just 26 has shown he can score at the NBA level. But he comes with a very expensive contract, and for a team in the Wizards position, acquiring him (and his salary) would make it difficult to tinker with the roster going forward. This year Gay is making $16.4 million dollars, and next year that number goes up to $17.8 million.
So far this season Gay is averaging 17.2 points per game, but he’s doing it on just 40 percent shooting while taking almost 16 shots a game. Factor in that he’s not a particularly strong defender, passer, or rebounder and you have a player who struck it rich before the lockout and hasn’t done much to show he deserved a max contract. Adding a player with Gay’s potential may be exciting for some Wizards fans, but he’s a high volume scorer, who would take away shots from John Wall, Bradley Beal, Nene and others.
The Wizards also already owe Nene and Emeka Okafor a combined $26.5 million this year, and $27.5 million next year. If you conclude that it’s unlikely a frontcourt-heavy team like Memphis would want Nene or Okafor, the Wizards would be paying a combined $45.3 million for three players in 2013-2014 if they had acquired Gay.
The Wizards' specific offer was never made public, but it's clear they decided to stay the course.