In a move that surprised absolutely no one, the Memphis Grizzlies have sent Rudy Gay his qualifying offer, which means the young forward a will become a restricted free agent starting tomorrow, July 1st.
The QO is essentially an offer for a one year contract at with about a 50% pay raise from the year before. It cannot be declined, but free agents can receive offers with a larger deal from either other teams or their own team.
That means Rudy Gay is now guaranteed at least $4.2 million for next season.
In one week, assuming Gay and the Grizzlies do not reach agreement on an extension, other teams will be able to send Rudy Gay their own offer sheets, which are going to be much, much more lucrative than $4.2 million. Rudy will be able to choose from these offers, which will probably range between 5 years $60 million and 5 years $75 million, like a normal free agent and can sign one of the offer sheets.
The Knicks, Nets, Timberwolves, Wizards, and Clippers have all shown interest in Rudy, though he does not anticipate making a decision until after the top-tier free agents like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have settled into the plentiful cap space around the NBA.
Because they have given Gay the qualifying offer, though, the Grizzlies will have what is called "right of first refusal." That means Memphis can automatically retain Gay, even against his wishes, by at least matching the contract offer sheet signed by Gay within a week of his signing.
Trade deadline acquisition Ronnie Brewer is also expected to receive his $3.7 million qualifying offer from the Grizz, and will also be a restricted free agent as long a Memphis tenders him a QO today as well.
***UPDATE***: The Grizzlies will NOT give Ronnie Brewer a qualifying offer.