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Why the Grizzlies SHOULD Sign Rudy Gay

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It’s time to #BringRudyHome.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Days before free agency officially began, Rudy Gay announced that he would be declining his player option in Sacramento, walking away from a $14.3 million one-year deal in spite of the fact that he ruptured his Achilles tendon in January.

Now, we could spend all day talking about how terrible the Kings organization is if a player coming off a major injury just declined a $14 million option, but there’s a much more important aspect of this news. Namely, Rudy Gay, former Grizzly, is now available on the open market.

Ordinarily, a player of Rudy Gay’s caliber (whatever meaning you want to attach to that phrase) would be out of the Grizzlies’ price range given their current roster and cap constraints. BUT the Grizzlies should be able to use their full MLE (around $8 million per year) this offseason. It’s a stretch, but coming off the injury, Rudy may be willing to take a discount, making him a possibility for the Grizzlies in free agency.

So, the question then becomes, should the Grizzlies bring Rudy home?

First, let’s take a moment to look at some of his advanced and per-36 stats from his first stint in Memphis compared to his time in Sacramento. Please note, for the purposes of this comparison, I’ve excluded Gay’s rookie season. Rookie players are generally bad, and including that season tends to skew the Memphis sample downward in a direction I don’t think is indicative of Rudy’s overall time in Memphis.

Advanced Stats

Rudy Gay Advanced Stats MEM SAC
Rudy Gay Advanced Stats MEM SAC
PER 16.43 18.18
TS% 0.526 0.555
TRB% 9.33 9.93
AST% 10.10 14.30
TOV% 11.75 12.70
USG% 24.53 25.45
WS/48 0.091 0.100
BPM 0.733 1.100
VORP 1.700 1.525

Per-36.csv

Rudy Gay Per 36 MEM SAC
Rudy Gay Per 36 MEM SAC
FG% 0.452 0.463
3P% 0.335 0.348
2P% 0.479 0.493
FTA 4.00 5.08
FT% 0.779 0.837
TRB 5.72 6.38
AST 2.10 2.90
STL 1.33 1.38
BLK 0.80 0.73
TOV 2.30 2.63
PF 2.35 2.58
PTS 18.1 20.2
AST-TO 0.913 1.105

Rudy spent his prime athletic years in Sacramento, and the numbers bear that out. Most of his numbers, both advanced and per-36, are slightly better than his time in Memphis. Rudy will be 31 at the start of next season, meaning he’s likely on the decline in terms of production. The injury is only going to accelerate that decline.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. The Grizzlies already have one injured scrub on their roster. Why add another one who’s already been a headache for this team in a past life?

I’ll tell you why. The Grizzlies SHOULD sign Rudy in spite of all of this because:

Mike Conley loves him. Conley recently dropped by the Pardon My Take podcast with PFT Commenter and Barstool Big Cat. During the show, Conley was asked about his Mount Rushmore of Teammates. Along with Greg Oden, current Grizzlies Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, there was — you guessed it — Rudy Gay.

We’ve seen this team deal with chemistry issues centering around a certain injured wing, who shall remain nameless, last season. And while Gay is coming off an injury, it’s nice to know he won’t cause the same sort of issues that Par— I mean, that injured free agent — caused last season.

A guaranteed contract using a portion of the MLE could get the Grizzlies a known quantity at a discount. The Grizzlies are in a tough spot this offseason. Several of their key vets are hitting free agency, and, barring the unlikely event of a blow-up, they’ll likely only have minimum contracts and the MLE to add free agent talent.

As mentioned, Gay is coming off an Achilles injury, so in all likelihood he’s looking for the most guaranteed money possible from any team outside of Sacramento. If Memphis offers a four-year deal at the full MLE — or something close to it — they’re getting back a player with a history of scoring and decent handling, and someone to take some of the offensive load off of Mike and Marc, a role that was supposed to be filled by a certain other free agent, who shall continue to remain nameless.

It would be fun and nostalgia-tastic, and in today’s NBA landscape, that’s the main thing that matters. As Kevin Yeung touched on in his recent piece, the Warriors are set to dominate the league for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, the Grizzlies might as well go into full Run it Back Mode.

Remember the 2013 season? Remember how fun that was? Remember all of those fantastic Rudy Gay highlights?

Cooking all of Miami’s Big 3 in one move:

You want game winners? RUDY GOT GAME WINNERS:

TFW you cook the Finals MVP and hit the winning shot over him:

*sad trombone*

Just think, you can have even more of this sort of spectacular performance, and for just a fraction of a max contract!

Just as important, signing Rudy Gay allows you to trade Rudy Gay. The last time the Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay, they made it to the Conference Finals. The Raptors traded Gay and made the Eastern Conference Finals just two seasons later. Coincidence? Maybe, but for the Grizzlies, rolling the dice on superstition may be their best course of action.


Stay tuned to GBB for Part II of this series: Why the Grizzlies SHOULDN’T sign Rudy Gay.