Will Nick Young sign a one-year deal and come back to Washington? Will the Wizards take advantage of their ability to give Young more years and money and tie him up long-term? Or will Young jump at the first offer sheet that comes close to what he wants?
The preseason opener is Friday and the season opener is less than two weeks away, and time is dwindling for those decisions to be made. The free agent market is starting to take shape, after one of the biggest names, Nene, elected to re-sign with Denver. Doors for shooting guards are closing around the league and money is drying up, so the pressure is on.
Contract discussions are expected to intensify with the articificial deadline of real games on the horizon. So, before he settles on taking the best offer he can get right now, Young might want to take something into consideration as he makes his decision: if he doesn’t like what he sees, the market next year – if Young accepts his one-year qualifying offer of $3.7 million – could be much better.
More teams will have money. Few attractive wing players will be available. And, next year is less than eight months away because of this truncated, 66-game season.
“If you’re a player, it’s a nice place to be next summer,” one player agent said recently.
Young is currently competing for the same jobs as Jamal Crawford, Arron Afflalo, Rodney Stuckey and Richard Hamilton, among others, and few teams have money to overspend on free agents. Some of the teams with money (such as New Orleans) probably won’t spend.
The Wizards plan to give Young a deal that would take into consideration the interests of a player they have invested in since 2007 but also the interests of the team trying to stay committed to a long-term plan. With Young being a restricted free agent, most teams around the league assume that the Wizards would match any reasonable offer sheet.
But depending on what the salary cap situation is next summer, nearly half of the teams in the league — including the Wizards, if they buy out or use amnesty on Rashard Lewis — could potentially have considerable room to sign players. The uncertainty over the projected cap figure is something to ponder.
Several teams have been gearing up for the summer of 2012, when Deron Williams and possibly Chris Paul and Dwight Howard can enter the open market. Since there are only three superstars available, that means the rest of that available money could trickle down to other players.
Remember what happened in the summer of LeBron? Teams had tons of cap space to make runs for potential franchise-changing players, and players like David Lee (six years, $80 million), Tyrus Thomas (five years, $40 million), Travis Outlaw (five years, $35 million), Josh Childress (five years, $35 million) and Channing Frye (five years, $32 million) all cashed in.
The best available unrestricted free agent shooting guards next summer could be Ray Allen, Vince Carter, Jason Terry, Carlos Delfino, Mickael Pietrus, Matt Barnes, Randy Foye and Tracy McGrady. That list is up there in age, and not the most impressive.
The restricted free agent class is much stronger, however, with Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo, Landry Fields, Courtney Lee and Rudy Fernandez possibly hitting the market if they don’t sign extensions before Jan. 25.
Young would still be entering his prime, but he would also be competing with those players as well. Throw in a 2012 draft that will be loaded with cheaper perimeter talent with superstar potential and teams could also look to fill their shooting guard needs in other ways.
It certainly isn’t an easy decision.
If Young is able to improve upon a career-year in which he averaged a career-high 17.4 points, he could create a decent market by waiting until July to get paid. He could even look into accepting a deal like Jeff Green, who signed a one-year, $9 million deal to stay with Boston (one of the teams that should have plenty of money to sign players next summer).
There is risk in signing for a year, given the potential for injury and possibly regression if Jordan Crawford continues to play at a high level, Roger Mason Jr. earns minutes and Young has to scramble for a solid spot in the rotation - or if the lack of security from a long-term deal affects his focus.
Of the 10 players who signed their one-year qualifying offers, Ben Gordon is the only one to score a significant long-team contract with his next deal (and, coincidentally, all of them signed elsewhere). But there could be a greater financial reward on the other side for Young – unless the Wizards give him a five-year deal now and take away that option.
It could all come to a resolution soon.