“I trusted Billy. I knew for me to go up there it had to be serious,” said Evans, the Washington Wizards’ free agent swingman and union vice president. “I knew it was an opportunity to close out. I think that was big for everybody to get that and take the pressure off everybody.”
The news that the NBA was close to starting a 66-game season beginning Dec. 25 was like an early Christmas present for many of the Wizards. Some reacted with glee on Twitter and in text messages — especially because the season appeared in jeopardy two weeks ago when the union disbanded and players filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league in Minnesota.
Wizards point guard John Wall wrote in a text message that he was “happy” that the lockout is nearing its end. Second-round draft pick Shelvin Mack wrote on his Twitter account, “Lockout is over . . . #Yessir.”
Representatives for the players and owners are expected to complete the final details over the next few days and if they approve the deal, free agency and training camp are expected to start simultaneously on Dec. 9.
Wall had played in several charity basketball games and summer leagues during the offseason but decided to attend but not participate in games in Dallas and Davis, Calif., in order to rest. He said was “gonna be good” when training camp begins. The Wizards held training camp at George Mason University last year and may have access to the facility, depending on how long teams are allowed to prepare, but Verizon Center is also a possibility, according to a league source.
The Wizards are also in better position than some teams to have a condensed training camp, since Flip Saunders and most of his staff are returning and the team already has Wall, Andray Blatche, Jordan Crawford, JaVale McGee, Rashard Lewis, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin under contract. Draft picks Mack, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton will join the fold once they sign their set rookie deals.
The team has also put out qualifying offers on restricted free agents Nick Young, Hamady Ndiaye, Larry Owens and Othyus Jeffers and has three unrestricted free agents in Josh Howard, Yi Jianlian and Evans. Retaining Young will be the Wizards’ first priority in free agency, but the team will also attempt to sign a veteran backup for Wall.