Gay on Nets' free-agent courtship: 'It never got that far'

NEWARK, N.J. -- Memphis Grizzlies swingman Rudy Gay was hoping to see the New Jersey Nets’ free-agent pitch.

But like he said before the Grizzlies took on the Nets Wednesday night, “it never got that far.”

Gay and the Nets had a mutual interest in one another, but the Grizzlies swooped in and offered their superstar scorer a 5-year, $82 million max contract on July 1, the first day of free agency. And since he was restricted, there was nothing he could do.

“I’m happy being here,” said Gay, who is averaging a career-high 20.5 points per game. “But to be honest with you, there’s not much else I could do. I was restricted. So I gotta be happy with what I got now.”

A Baltimore native who played his college basketball at UConn, Gay, 24, was attracted to New Jersey -- and eventually, the Nets hope, Brooklyn -- because it was so close to home.

“I’m from the Northeast, so it’s not that far from home,” Gay said. “That was a factor. I have a lot of family in New York and Connecticut.”

He also liked the direction the Nets’ franchise was headed in.

“They’ve got an owner that’s willing to do things to make this organization right,” said Gay. “It’s a nice city -- being close to New York and basically the possibility of moving to Brooklyn.”

Gay said he was planning on visiting Newark, which was covered in snow on Wednesday, “but it didn’t get that far.”

“They have a great coach. Great owner,” Gay said. “And these guys are committed to winning. So it seemed like a good place to come.”

The Nets certainly could’ve used Gay, who is shooting .474 percent from the field and .416 percent from 3-point range.

They’re currently 29th in the NBA in scoring (92.6 points per game) and 25th in field goal percentage (.440).