Grizzlies Owner Michael Heisley Excited About Re-Signing Rudy Gay
"I think there's always comments and so on,'' Heisley said in an interview Thursday with FanHouse after the restricted free agent had agreed to return to Memphis on a five-year, $82 million contract. "But from our point of view we feel that it was a fair deal and I think Rudy feels it's a fair deal. He's happy with it. A happy player does a lot better than a player that accepts something reluctantly. I think it's a good deal for both parties, and that's the best kind of deal you can find.''
Heisley confirmed the forward, who averaged 19.6 points last season, has accepted the contract. The first day he can sign is July 8.
"We feel comfortable that he will sign it,'' said Heisley, who said Gay has verbally agreed to the deal.
Gay was being looked at by teams such as Minnesota and New Jersey, which, based on a salary cap of $56 million, couldn't pay him more than about $81 million over five years. But Heisley, while not confirming the actual dollars given Gay, said the Grizzlies made sure they were offering Gay more than any other team could.
"It is not a maximum deal, but I think it is a very attractive deal,'' Heisley said. "And it's better than anybody else can offer.''
A maximum deal for Gay with Memphis would have been about $106 million over six years. At five years, maximum money with Grizzlies would have been about $85 million.
Heisley was quite pleased to have Gay locked on the first day teams could negotiate with free agents.
"I think it means a lot to the organization,'' Heisley said. "We had an exceptionally good season (40-42) last year for our team as young as it was. Our starting five (also Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, O.J. Mayo and Mike Conley) was I think as competitive as anybody in the Western Conference. I think that Rudy was an absolute important part of that group, and I think they played well together. They like each other. And, quite frankly, we're very intent on trying to keep this group of guys together and go forward next year and maybe bolster some of the supporting cast.''
Heisley said the decision earlier this week to not tender a qualifying offer to swingman Ronnie Brewer, making him an unrestricted rather than a restricted free agent, played a role in wanting to devote Memphis' resources to re-signing Gay.
"I think in the process of going into our negotiations and so on we were under a deadline and we wanted to basically have as much powder as we could have to make sure we could sign the guys,'' Heisley said. "We still are interested in Ronnie, but ... we're getting pretty high up on the salary table right now.
"So we didn't know what would transpire with the negotiations with Rudy. So we took a pass on the restricted thing. But that doesn't mean, if we decide to, we can't go out and bid for him. ... We were focused on making sure we signed Rudy, and quite frankly we don't have an unlimited checking account.''
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christoomasson