Jared Dudley spoke Thursday about his back surgery for a herniated disc, why he passed on free agency and his interest in the Wizards during an interview on ESPN's The Lowe Post podcast.
Washington acquired the versatile forward in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this month. The Wizards envision Dudley helping out to replace Paul Pierce and serve as a stretch-4 type forward. The team announced this week that he would miss 3-4 months following the surgery.
The highlights from Dudley's conversation with Zach Lowe:
- Dudley said he initially suffered the injury in "late January, but played throughout it." Cortizone shots throughout the season helped manage the pain as the Bucks battled for a playoff berth and seeding. He played in 72 regular season games and six during the postseason.
- He began a rehab plan following the season before coming up with a plan for surgery. The decision to have surgery now was done in part to minimize how much time he would miss this coming season. "I'll be back right before the season. I might miss a couple of games here or there," Dudley said. "As you know, the basketball season is a long, long season. So, I'll be there when it counts." He noted the pain prior to surgery was not significant compared to others with the same issue.
- Dudley surprised the NBA community when he opted into his $4.25 million option with the Bucks rather than exercise his early termination option and seek a multi-year contract in free agency. He waited until the final hours before the start of free agency before making his decision. "Hey, I'm not going to lie to you. I wanted to opt out," Dudey admitted. "The whole thing was to opt out. At the same time, you never want to opt-out you want to have a deal in place or at least have a backup plan. For me, I'm never going to be anyone's first or second choice. I'm your fourth, fifth, six option, Your glue guy. Everyone wants the sexy choice. Me and my agent, we went around to different places. We had people interested...But also, I was doing rehab on my back. I knew it was hurting. It improved. It improve so much, but I knew down the road I possibly could have surgery. I didn't know. For me, I didn't want to risk opting out, going (into free agency) and possibly not getting the deal I wanted." Dudley mentioned Cleveland's J.R. Smith as an example of the opt-out downside. Smith remain a free agent.
- If he entered free agency, Dudley said the Wizards were among the teams he wanted to join along with possibly returning to the Phoenix Suns. The Bucks were not showing interest in retaining Dudley via free agency in part, as Dudley notes, because Milwaukee was preparing to make bigger splashes (they re-signed Khris Middleton and gave Greg Monroe a max contract) and have rising young talent at his spot. "They didn't see me for the long run," he said.