MIAMI FL - FEBRUARY 25: Nick Young #1 of the Washington Wizards looks on during a pause in the game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 25 2011 in Miami Florida. 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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
There's a reason only 10 restricted free agents (12 now if you include Spencer Hawes and Marco Belinelli) have signed the qualifying offer since 1999. There's a reason that a solution that ostensibly is a win-win for both sides has been enacted less than one time per season. It's because it's a last resort when neither the team or player gets what it desires.
All of that holds true with the Nick Young situation. Young reportedly wanted a long-term extension that was more than the four-year, $33 million deal Marcus Thornton received from the Sacramento Kings. The Wizards wanted to keep him here, but not at that price. In the end, both settled for something they didn't want, and neither is going to be incredibly thrilled by it.
No, Young won't go out and actively sabotage the team during games to get his shots. No, the Wizards' entire rebuilding strategy won't have to be abandoned. But you can bet that Young will have his contract situation on his mind when he's not in the flow of an actual game, and you can bet that the Wizards now need to envision an alternate future without one of their top players currently on the roster in the picture. That's why this is a lose-lose.
And yet, I still think the Wizards did the right thing.We've talked about this before, so I won't rehash my point of view again, but in short, overpaying Young would have been a mistake. As good a scorer as Young has become, he's still incredibly one-dimensional on offense, and he's only demonstrated he can fit that scoring ability into a team setting for less than a full season. He has value, but if his reported asking price is true, he was asking to be paid like a core piece. Given his limitations, he's not quite good enough to justify that kind of financial commitment. Unless he makes incredible strides in those limitations, he won't be good enough to justify a $9 million/year financial commitment next summer either.
If the Wizards offer anything less than Young's reported asking price next year, you have to wonder why Young would come back. Pretty much the only way that happens is if he once again finds a bad market and is forced to ponder the reality that he's worth far less than he thought. Even then, why would he sign with the Wizards over any other team? The Wizards already proved to him he wasn't worth as much to them as he thought. Would he really want to favor the Wizards' offer over any other team's?
So yes, a future without Nick Young is far more likely than a future with Nick Young. What does that future hold? It holds plenty of cap space and lots of flexibility to try to replace him. There's probably a high draft pick on the way in a deep draft. There's enough room to keep JaVale McGee if advertised and still be able to make a big move to find another piece, either via trade or free agency. It's really not the end of the world. The Wizards will manage far better than if they tied up too much of their long-term salary into a player like Young.
There are some striking parallels between this situation an the one the Chicago Bulls had with Ben Gordon. Gordon was the top perimeter scorer on a better team than this one, but he was pretty one-dimensional and the Bulls were unwilling to meet his contract demands of over $10 million a season. For the first year, Gordon settled for the qualifying offer and actually had a pretty nice season in 2008-09. He emerged as a piece many felt the Bulls should keep after a great playoff performance. Instead, the Bulls were again unwilling to meet his asking price and he left for Detroit. The Bulls elected not to directly replace him, instead keeping their powder dry for 2010 and building around their No. 1 draft pick. Two years later, they're the best team in the Eastern Conference, and few people miss Gordon. Things worked out for them just fine.
In the short-term, this won't be good for either side. In the long term, though, the Wizards will be OK, and you could argue they'll be even better. KurisuDevil said it best in the last thread: on the road to fiscal responsibility, there will be casualties along the way.