NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 31: Darius Songaila #9 of the New Orleans Hornets fights for a rebound with James Singleton #22 of the Washington Wizards at New Orleans Arena on March 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Wizards defeated the Hornets 96-91. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
So this is not how I expected James Singleton's free agent journey to end. According to Michael Lee, Singleton has decided to pack his bags and head to China to play for the Xinjiang Gyang Hui Flying Tigers next season.
Singleton told Lee he had NBA offers, including ones from the Wizards, but they were all merely for the veterans' minimum. Instead of taking that offer and, in his words, "being a cheerleader," he decided to take a more lucrative offer to get more playing time overseas. Considering the nomadic, overlooked basketball career he's put together, I can't blame him.
In fact, if I'm Singleton, I feel a bit disrespected. He's nearly 30 years old, and yet he's still fighting his lack of a reputation. As I think about how this has all ended, there's one line that Singleton told me a couple days after the trade that keeps coming back to me.
"I think you should play a better upon his -- how can I say it -- upon his, his effort. Not because of his name, but because of what he puts into this job. Just because you have a big name doesn't mean you should play in the game 24/7 and all 48 minutes. There are guys that are trying to do the same thing [the big names] are doing, but because they don't have a big name, they don't get the opportunity."
With few noticing, Singleton emerged as a key role player for the Wizards last year. He changed his game from being a jump-shooting small power forward to being a rebounder that did the dirty work. His positive outlook was infectious in keeping what should have been a dour clubhouse loose, and he became very close with Andray Blatche in particular. (I am forever convinced that Blatche's success last season would not have happened without Singleton being around keeping him at ease). But that's the thing: few noticed. It's tough to get much attention as a glue guy for a 26-56 team, especially one with as anonymous a name as James Singleton.
At the end of the day, I'm not sure if the Wizards should have actually kept him. Trevor Booker does many of the things Singleton does, and he's younger. But I'm very, very surprised that no NBA team, the Wizards included, think he's worth anything more than the veterans minimum. Most good teams have a swing forward that acts as a reliable option off the bench, and Singleton surely is better than a number of guys that have signed. I really do think lots of teams missed a chance to add a guy simply because they didn't know who he was.
Enjoy China, James. I'll be sure to wear this shirt in your honor.