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Nick Young faces an uncertain future
By Michael Lee
Nick Young called it. Given the chance to pick whom the Wizards should select with the sixth pick in the NBA draft, Young told ESPN the Magazine that the only professional team that he has ever played for should take Jan Vesely from the Czech Republic. And, wouldn’t you know it, the Wizards took Vesely and the rest was make-out-with-your-girlfriend-before-shaking-hands-with-David-Stern history.
“I got an eye for talent,” Young joked nearly a week later.
But Young remains in limbo as to when he’ll actually share the floor with Vesely, with the NBA deciding to lockout its players, or if he’ll again suit up for the Wizards, with him being a restricted free agent whenever a collective bargaining agreement is reached.
The situation has Young a bit unnerved, but he is trying to remain patient while the owners and the players union attempt to hammer out their differences. He has had to make some adjustments to his spending habits, since he has been advised for the past season to save his money, and it has been somewhat of a challenge.
“I like to spend a little bit. I like to buy shoes and clothes, so that kind of hurt. But everything is good. I’m still doing the same things, just not as bad as I used to,” Young said in a telephone interview. “If you have something important going on, you should be able to handle it and cut back on some things and enjoy what you got, really.”
While he waits for the labor dispute to come to a close, Young has been busy working out in Los Angeles, where he has been training regularly with Jordan Crawford and Indiana Pacers teammates Danny Granger and Paul George. Wizards assistant coaches Ryan Saunders and Sam Cassell visited with Young, Crawford and JaVale McGee in Los Angeles for three days last month in preparation of a lockout and provided a program that they intend for him to follow. Since teams are now prohibited from making contact with players, the information provided was quite thorough.
“They gave us a little workout sheet, program and things they want us to work on. They broke it down pretty good, too. They put a lot of time in,” said Young, who plans on improving his ballhandling and his ability to do more catch-and-shooting. “It’s going to be a lot of open shots with John [Wall] and Jordan and the players that we have. I’m staying ready. The only thing we can do is stay in shape and stay ready. You never know when you’re going to have to be ready. I’m just sticking to my same routine, the same things I’ve been doing and trying to build off the year I had.”
Young has taken some to reflect on a career-season that saw him lead the Wizards in scoring at 17.4 points per game and drop a career-high 43 points in a win over Sacramento. “It feels great. I ain’t never really had a year like that, have a summer that you can enjoy what you did and feel like you accomplished something. I feel good. I’m trying to take it step by step. Keep growing, keep improving.”
Young missed 16 of the final 22 games with a left knee injury, which prohibited him from having the opportunity to play many games with Crawford. Crawford filled in admirably for Young, putting up similar scoring numbers and even having a triple-double. When the season ended, Young took about a month off to rest and started to get back to work. His workouts with Crawford have encouraged him to think that they will mesh well with Wall in nice three-guard rotation. “We’re going at it,” Young said. “We both do some things out there on the court. We’re going to be hard to guard if they bring me back. It’s going to be exciting.”
The Wizards have already tendered a $3.7 million qualifying offer to Young, giving them first right of refusal for any offer sheet he may sign, based on the previous rules of the collective bargaining agreement. “It means a lot. I put in some years and I got a chance. They are sticking with me, so that’s a sign of them sticking with me,” Young said. “The Wizards are all I really know right now. I talked to the coaches, and Ernie [Grunfeld] and the people in the front office. You never know how it goes. It’s up to my agent [Aaron Mintz] and I hope they can work something out.”
Until then, Young said he will try to enjoy his summer as much as he can. He will conduct his third basketball camp at Oaks Christian from July 11-15. He is encouraging those interested to go to www.oakschristian.org for information.
Young has made a few trips to the tattoo parlor to get some more ink but he decided to not to cut his Afro, as he said he would. He got “bored” and decided to join Twitter, under the name, @NickSwagyPYoung. I asked him what the “SwagyP” was all about. Young laughed and said, “That’s just, back in my day, they used to call me Pretty Tony, because I was so pretty.”
Young said he has been keeping tabs of his current and former teammates on Twitter, especially JaVale McGee, who has taken to calling himself Pierre this summer. “He’ll probably try to do what Ron Artest did and change his last name,” he said with a laugh (Artest has decided to legally change his name to Metta World Peace).
The lockout has made this offseason different than previous ones, but Young said he will continue to work on getting better and also try to get his weight back down after bulking up in order to play some small forward last season. He won’t get too worried about the labor dispute with the usually start of training camp still months away. “I’m going at it like it’s the same summer. Until October or something, that’s when we’ll really know,” Young said. “You never know what can happen. Once everything is really settled, we’ll see and we know where I’m at with everything. Hopefully, I’ll be in a Wizards jersey…or somewhere else. I’m still excited about where I’m at. Let’s just get something done. I’m sticking with the players and the union, to get something done.”