Whether Dudley returns to Washington next season is uncertain, but the 30-year-old recently said that he wants to, telling The Washington Post that he will seek a three-year contract this summer.
Before getting traded to Washington, Dudley exercised a player option on his contract that paid him $4.25 million knowing that back surgery was likely. With new television money set to inundate the market this summer, Dudley figures to get a raise after one of his better seasons.
“I thought I held my end of the bargain when it came to Ernie [Grunfeld] trading for me even though I was hurt at the time,” Dudley said after the Wizards’ season finale. “Going forward, I could definitely see me coming back. As I told some other reporters, I’m never anybody’s first or second or third option, I’m your fourth option. So if you don’t get your girlfriend you want right away, I’m the one at the end. For me, it’s no problem. You know what I can do in this system. When I play, I play the right way.”
Dudley was brought in to provide a veteran presence, while serving as three-point-shooting power forward the Wizards were looking for following Paul Pierce’s departure after playing the position for extensive periods for the first time with the Bucks. He started the season on the bench but was promoted to the starting lineup over Kris Humphries until Markieff Morris was moved to the starting quintet in late February.
The nine-year veteran entered the league in 2007 as primarily a small forward and his major shortcoming at power forward is rebounding. He stands at 6-foot-7 and isn’t a leaper. But he held his own defensively against top-notch players like Anthony Davis and Paul Millsap throughout the season, while doubling as one of the Wizards’ top team defenders.
Offensively, ball movement was usually better with Dudley on the floor and he finished the season shooting a career-high 42 percent from three-point range despite a late-season drop off that corresponded with his move to the bench and away from minutes with the pass-first John Wall as his point guard. In 41 games as a starter, he shot 45.3 percent from three and posted a 62.3 true shooting percentage. Those percentages plummeted to 35.1 and 56.7 percent in 40 games off the bench.
“For me, the two things I wanted to basically show this year, for one, I wanted to show that I was healthy and show I could play the four,” Dudley said. “I thought I did that for 80 percent of the season.”
When asked which of Washington’s eight impending unrestricted free agents he would like to see return, Wall mentioned Dudley along with Alan Anderson and Garrett Temple. The feeling is mutual, but there will be plenty of moving parts this summer.