Veteran swingman Josh Childress has accepted an invitation to attend Wizards training camp, a league source with knowledge of the situation confirmed Monday.
A versatile, 6-foot-8 swingman, Childress had a promising start to his career, averaging 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in his first four seasons with the Atlanta Hawks before leaving the NBA to sign a more lucrative deal in Greece in 2008. The move was expected to open up a more competitive global market for NBA players, but the overseas exodus never followed, and within two years, Childress was eager to come back.
The Wizards expressed interest in Childress when he decided to leave Greece in 2010, but the Stanford product instead elected to sign a five-year deal for the full mid-level exception with the Phoenix Suns. The return hasn’t been very rewarding for Childress.
The Suns waived Childress using the amnesty provision two summers ago to remove the $23 million remaining on his salary from the books. Childress then signed a partially-guaranteed deal with the Brooklyn Nets but was waived in late December after averaging just 1.0 point and 1.1 rebounds in 14 games. He has played just 102 games over the past three seasons after dealing with a broken ring finger and later an ill-fit in Phoenix and suffering a severely sprained ankle in Brooklyn.
But in an interview with NBA.com in late July, the 30-year-old Childress said he was waiting for the right opportunity to showcase his talent. “You get on the court in that situation and do the little things I’ve always tried to do: hustling and rebounding, and all the stuff that helps my team win. More than anything, what I’d love is to get into a situation where I’m with somebody who actually believes in me and what I can bring to a team. I can’t say that I’ve had that lately.”
Childress, the sixth overall pick of the 2004 NBA draft, has career averages of 9.2 points on 52.2 percent shooting and 4.8 rebounds. The Wizards wouldn’t appear to be the most ideal situation for Childress with the team already set at small forward with Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster and draft picks Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr. (Rice’s two-year deal is only guaranteed for the first year).
But there might be a chance to get some minutes in the preseason with Chris Singleton out six to eight weeks because of a broken left foot. Childress also is a former teammate of Al Harrington.
A good showing by Childress could also position the Wizards for a trade. Ariza and Emeka Okafor are in the last year of their deals, and Jan Vesely and Singleton could also become free agents next summer if the Wizards decline to pick up their 2014-15 options.
Okafor’s neck injury, which will keep him out indefinitely, gives the Wizards a much more pressing need to find help in the front court, though the team plans to give Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker and Vesely the chance to carry the load. The odds of cracking the squad for any training camp invite would appear to be slim, but the Wizards found room to sign Earl Barron last season, though they entered camp with 15 players under contract. Training camp will begin on Saturday at George Mason.
Hoopshype.com was first to report Childress’s decision to join the Wizards.