Published July 01, 2010
Rudy Gay landed the first max deal of the summer while LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the star-studded free agent class mulled over offers from NBA suitors.
Gay agreed to a five-year contract on Thursday that will pay him more than $80 million to stay with the Memphis Grizzlies, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The deal will pay Gay more than $13 million starting next season, with annual raises of 10.5 percent, a definite upgrade over the five-year, $50 million offer he turned down last season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal can't be signed until July 8.
The restricted free agent was scheduled to visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday and also was lining up meetings with the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and Miami Heat.
Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley vowed to match any deal that Gay was offered on the open market, and ensured those meetings would never take place by offering the 23-year-old rising star more money than any of those other teams could.
The 6-foot-8 Gay averaged 19.6 points and 5.9 rebounds in his fourth season with the Grizzlies last year and is part of a young nucleus — along with Marc Gasol and O.J. Mayo — that is being counted on to turn a perennial lottery team into a contender in the powerful Western Conference.
While much of the league was waiting to see where James would land before moving ahead accordingly, the Grizzlies did not hesitate to go after their guy.
James met with the Knicks and Nets in Cleveland on Thursday and also planned meetings with the Heat, Bulls and Cavaliers in the next few days.
Wade, Bosh and Stoudemire appeared to be in a holding pattern while Johnson was in talks with his Atlanta Hawks.
But it was Gay, considered a second-tier free agent behind the Olympians at the top of the list, who cashed in first.