Nick Young was willing to veto his no-trade clause and accept a trade for only two teams, the Los Angeles Clippers being one of them. So when the Washington Wizards shipped him to one of his hometown teams at the trade deadline, Young, a former standout at Southern California, could only describe it as “a dream come true.”
Departing the dysfunction of the woebegone Wizards and joining a team that is in the Western Conference playoff race also was a welcome change for Young. During his introductory news conference on Saturday, Young told reporters in Los Angeles that his former team was “going through turmoil” and likely needed to complete the three-team trade that sent him to the Clippers, JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf to Denver and brought back Nene, Brian Cook and a 2015 second-round pick.
“We was losing and it was a tough situation,” Young said. “We kind of felt it in the air something was going to happen. To be here in the atmosphere of winning is a different feeling. I have to adjust fast. Washington wasn’t going to be in the playoffs. I had to cancel some plans going into the offseason.”
Young will wear No. 11 for the Clippers, but he won’t be able to play until the trade is finalized. A league source with knowledge of the deal said that might not be until either Sunday or Monday. McGee left for Denver on Friday and has already completed his physical, as well. He will wear No. 34 for the Nuggets.
“It’s a winning team, so I can show I can win and that I’m not a loser just because I was on a losing team,” McGee told reporters in Denver upon arrival.
Nene, the centerpiece of the deal, arrived in Washington around 7 p.m. after a delayed flight from Denver and took his physical late in the evening, according to team sources. The results from the examination are expected to known on Sunday. He plans to get in two practices with his new team before making his debut on Wednesday in New Jersey.
Kevin Seraphin has started the past two games at center, averaging 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots — numbers that were almost identical to McGee’s production. Seraphin matched his career highs with nine rebounds in New Orleans and four blocked shots in Atlanta.
“I’m happy for him,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “He’s been in and out, in and out [of the rotation]. He’s had an opportunity and jumped on it.”
Cook joined the Wizards in Memphis but might not be with the team very long.
He was accepted in the deal to help the Clippers shed salary to acquire Young and is not a part of the Wizards’ future plans. A league source said the team would be willing to accommodate the veteran forward if he wishes to play elsewhere, since the team will continue to rely on its younger players the rest of the season.
Cook’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, said on Saturday the two sides would likely engage in buyout discussions this week. Cook is being paid $1.3 million this season and would first have to line up a landing spot.
“We’ll see. If the right situation is there, we’ll talk about it,” Bartelstein said of a buyout. “We’re not going to just do it to do it.”
Bartelstein also represents Turiaf, who will not play with McGee in Denver. Turiaf is also expected to receive a buyout, from the Nuggets, a team so stocked with front-court talent that Nene became expendable, and would draw interest in the free agent market. A seven-year veteran, Turiaf was activated for the Wizards’ 107-98 loss in Dallas but didn’t play.
Bartelstein said Turiaf is healthy and ready to go after being out since Jan. 1 because of a broken left hand.
Rashard Lewis has not played since the all-star break because of a bone bruise under his left knee suffered against Sacramento on Feb. 22. Lewis took his second Synvisc shot on Friday in Atlanta and will be out a few more days to allow the shot to settle in.
With the Wizards (10-33) having just 10 players available during their 102-88 loss on Friday in Atlanta — and Cook’s availability on Sunday still uncertain — the team plans to sign 6-foot-6 swingman Edwin Ubiles to a 10-day contract. Ubiles, 25, is the leading scorer for the NBA Development League’s Dakota Wizards and is averaging 20.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
A member of the Puerto Rican national team, Ubiles was cut by the Golden State Warriors during training camp.
The Wizards will need to find offense somewhere, with Young now hoping to provide scoring punch for the Clippers. He admitted this season was a strain.
“It was tough because every other night, it was ‘not top 10.’ We was the laughing stock,” Young said. “It was frustrating. It can cause tension between players and everything. We needed a new look. This was great.”