Nick Young May Be Playing His Final Year with the Washington Wizards

Benjamin E. Chun@benchun91Correspondent IIDecember 21, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28: Nick Young #1 of the Washington Wizards shoots over Ronnie Brewer #11 of the Chicago Bulls at the Verizon Center in Washington on February 28, 2011 in Washington, DC. 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 Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

With news breaking at the beginning of the week that Nick Young had signed his one-year qualifying offer ($3.7 million) to return to the Washington Wizards, many fans breathed a sigh of relief.  After taking a brutal beating by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first of two preseason contests, it was clear to most that the team lacked the scoring punch that Young provided last season. 

Playing in his contract year, Young did not disappoint, averaging a career-high 17.4 points per game dropping several 30-point performances against the likes of Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. 

Going into the long lockout offseason, it became clear that Young felt that he deserved top dollar as one of the most improved young shooting guards in the league.  Several league sources claimed that Young was searching for a long-term contract worth about $9 million annually. 

After finding that the rushed free-agent market was tapped, Young took the guaranteed money in Washington and will be playing in his second straight contract season.  He has come into camp with a chip on his shoulder to prove to the league that he deserves a  franchise cornerstone price tag whether that be with the Wizards or not. 

By signing the qualifying offer, Young could set the Wizards up for a quick exit after the season much like another high-scoring guard at the time.  

Looking at the career path of Ben Gordon, it is easy to see the similarities between him and Nick Young. 

Gordon, like Young, led his team in scoring before he hit restricted free agency in 2008.  After searching for a lucrative contract extension that could not be met by the Bulls, he signed the qualifying offer only to go on to become the Sixth Man of the Year, eventually getting plucked away by a five-year deal from the Detroit Pistons.

This season will be extremely important for the future of both Young and the Wizards.  If he can build upon his career year last season and break out of the one-dimensional style of play that has been a sticking point among critics, the Wizards will be put in a tough situation with at least a few other teams willing to offer substantial money to Young.  

With the pending free agency of Javale McGee after the season as well, Ernie Grunfeld will have his work cut out for him determining whether or not extending either player before season’s end will be possible or beneficial to the rebuild of the team without inhibiting the cap space that he has worked so hard to get. 

Ultimately, it is important the Wizards do not overpay for Young’s services, especially with a probable high pick in next year’s loaded draft class and the continued growth of Jordan Crawford. 

While the second preseason game earlier tonight showed a much better effort from the Wizards as a whole, it was nice to see Nick Young come out and hit a few tough shots that fans had grown used to seeing last year in the nation’s capital. 

The season kicks off the day after Christmas for the Wizards and after the extended lockout it’ll be nice to see Young suiting up for the only team he’s ever played for, even if this might be his last season in a Wizards uniform.