The Wizards will open the preseason with Jordan Crawford as the starting shooting guard and with Nick Young still in Los Angeles waiting for an offer that he deems fit to sign. A resolution for Young is expected to possibly come “in the next couple of days,” according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
With the season set to begin on Dec. 26 and most teams wrapping up training camps and preparing to start the evaluation process with two exhibition games, an unsigned free agent like Young will have to quickly get settled in and adjust to the new surroundings.
“It’s tough right now,” John Wall said of not having Young. “It’s a great person that did a lot of scoring for us last year but at the same time it’s a business you got to move forward with the team you’ve got in the locker room. I just hope he makes the best decision for himself.”
Why the delay for Young? According to two high-ranking Western Conference officials and a high-ranking Eastern Conference official, Young is seeking an annual salary in the range of $9 million per season – and few teams have the funds or the willingness to pay him right now.
“I do hear his price tag is pretty high,” one Western Conference official said.
Sacramento has money but no need at shooting guard. Indiana has cap room but has never shown an interest in signing players to offer sheets. New Jersey is still attempting to trade for Dwight Howard or save room to sign him next season. Denver is still trying to re-sign its own restricted free agent Arron Afflalo.
Young averaged a career-high and team-leading 17.4 points per game last season for the Wizards, the highest among free agent shooting guards. But this also hasn’t been the friendliest free agent signing period for perimeter players.
Marcus Thornton had the most lucrative deal, signing a four-year, $33-million deal with a Kings team that had plenty of cap space and is still below the salary floor. Jason Richardson returned to Orlando four-year, $25 million deal. Veterans Richard Hamilton and Jamal Crawford both signed deals for the mid-level at $5 million. Hamilton got two years with a team option for a third. Crawford got one year.
Jamal Crawford reportedly turned down a one-year, $6.5 million offer from Sacramento, but few teams have the money or the willingness to spend big on this condensed season. Detroit Pistons restricted free agent guard Rodney Stuckey reportedly balked at a five-year offer worth between $40 million and $45 million.
When asked if Young was looking for too much money after starting just 40 games last season, one league executive said, “It’s okay to ask, as long as you don’t mind the answer being no.”
The largest contacts have been obtained by big men such as Nene (five-years, $67 million from Denver), Tyson Chandler (four-years, $60 million from New York), DeAndre Jordan (four years, $43 million from the Los Angeles Clippers) and even Kwame Brown (one-year, $7 million).
The Wizards have tendered Young a $3.7 million qualifying offer but are also interested in bringing him back for a long-term deal – though likely not at his initial asking price, otherwise something would’ve been done by now. General Manager Ernie Grunfeld has given Young’s representatives permission to find an offer sheet elsewhere and have first right of refusal for any deal.
The market could improve next season, with few young, big-name shooting guards available and more teams with available salary cap room, but there is considerable risk involved in Young taking a one-year deal. Either way, the Wizards would like to have Young back in the fold and he probably will come back . . . but at what cost?
“I would think when all is said and done, this is where he’ll be,”Coach Flip Saunders said of Young. “We’ll have to wait and see.”