Young scored just three points off the bench in 10 minutes as the San Antonio Spurs swept the Clippers out of the playoffs with a 102-99 win. He also walked out of the locker room wearing a rather conservative denim shirt, instead of one of those colorful and flashy, Aztec-inspired print shirts that had attracted so much attention during the Clippers’ playoff run.
“Never know,” Young said, when asked about returning to the Clippers next season. “It could happen, but you never know. “
Young joined his hometown Clippers at the trade deadline, surrendering his no-trade clause to join a playoff contender that featured two all-stars in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. He didn’t have the same role he had been accustomed to playing in Washington, as he adjusted from being the Wizards’ leading scorer to being a designated scorer who got playing time based on his performance.
“It was tough,” Young said, “because I really only got one real practice, since I’ve been here. So I never really got the chance to learn or really get into the flow of things. I had to learn during games. But I enjoyed it.”
He especially enjoyed the opportunity to get back into the postseason, something he hadn’t experienced since his rookie year with the Wizards in 2007-08. Young had his best game of the playoffs in Game 1 of the Clippers’ first-round series against Memphis, when he scored 19 points and made three three-pointers in a minute to help his team rally from a 27-point second-half deficit.
“First game in the playoffs. I was nervous, I ain’t going to lie,” said Young, who averaged just 8.3 points in the playoffs, slightly down from the 9.7 points he contributed in 22 games with the Clippers. “But once I got out there, I was like, this is what you wanted. This is what you wanted. I embraced it.”
Young also grabbed hold of the experience of being around veteran players for the first time since the Wizards started their rebuilding efforts almost two years ago. He certainly was appreciative of the opportunity he received in Washington but wouldn’t deny the missing element.
“I feel I learned a lot. Being around CP, Chauncey [Billups], them veteran guys. You need to learn a little bit while you’re out there and just see how hard they play and how serious they take the game – in every aspect. They all got chefs and everything,” Young said with a laugh. “It’s something you need to know. I say, as a young guy, it’s cool to get thrown in the fire, but you also need to learn. Just being around those guys, mostly all of them been in the league for a while. You just need that. Washington, I think they should get a couple of veterans.”
Young said he tried to keep track of the Wizards – “I do miss them guys” – after the trade, but had little time to focus on anything more than adjusting to his new but familiar surroundings in Los Angeles. A former Southern California standout, Young always spent his offseasons at home, so he didn’t have to find a new place or struggle to find his way around town after he had arrived. He also knew exactly where to go to shop for clothing, which allowed him to showcase a more flamboyant side
“I wasn’t coming with it,” Young said about his wardrobe in Washington. “They got a lot more stores out here. Got a chance to shop on Rodeo, at all the little Versace stores. It’s pretty different. It’s Hollywood out here.”
After Game 3 against Memphis, Paul brought Young to the podium so that people got to see Young’s expensive Dolce & Gabanna shirt. “It cost a little bit, but it was money well spent. They always gave me a hard time,” Young said of his teammates.
The Clippers also gave him a good time, allowing him to get a taste of playoff basketball and a hunger for more success. “It was unbelievable. It’s something you really want to be a part of. Being around it, makes you motivated in the summer and want to get back,” Young said. “A lot of positive things came out of this. It helped out tremendously. Just being here, when the spotlight is on me. The atmosphere was crazy, something I could tell them young guys back there, ‘It’s nothing like the playoffs.’ They need to get here and once they get here, they’ll realize how important it is to win. It makes you want to get back, I’m telling you.”