Jared Dudley's one season with the Wizards went sour, and now the veteran forward is heading back to his former team, the Phoenix Suns, after signing what league sources told CSNmidatlantic.com is for three years and $30 million.
The Wizards, Dudley told CSN late Friday night, didn't make a strong push to retain him. They made one phone call at the start of free agency but never made him an actual offer.
Dudley was one of the free agents the Wizards had strongly considered retaining -- Alan Anderson and Garrett Temple are the others -- after a 41-41 season. Dudley made it clear in another interview with CSN before free agency opened that he would take the best offer available.
Dudley, who had surgery to repair a bulging disk in his back last summer, was relied on more heavily than expected as he averaged 7.9 points and 3.5 rebounds. He also shot 42% from three-point range, the second-best accuracy of his nine-year career.
He was quickly thrust into a starting role when Kris Humphries didn't work out as the "stretch" option at power forward. Dudley was undersized to handle true power forwards on the low block and not athletic enough to switch out on speedy guards for pick-and-rolls.
His suggestions to fix a struggling defense fell on deaf ears with then-coach Randy Wittman, who was fired after the regular-season finale April 13. Their relationship imploded after a 100-99 loss to the Indiana Pacers on March 5, the first in what would prove to be a season-killing five-game losing streak.
Dudley had been critical of Wittman's lack of in-game adjustments previously but went into Wittman's office to talk postgame. He was shunned, multiple persons told CSN at the time, including Dudley, and at that point Wittman had completely lost the locker room. What followed were embarrassing losses in a non-effort vs. the Utah Jazz then at the Denver Nuggets.
Scott Brooks has taken over the team but Dudley will be 31 by the time the 2016-17 season starts and wanted security. He wasn't willing to take reduced pay from his $4.2 million salary in Washington.
Now Dudley more than doubled that per year and returns to where he played from 2009-13. The Suns had Steve Nash and Grant Hill at that time and advanced to the conference finals. The Suns, who were 23-59 last season, are rebuilding.