By Lang Greene
The NBA’s 2013 free agent class lacks star power at the shooting guard position, but there’s quality depth for contending teams looking to reload or rebuilding franchises searching for veterans to surround their young talent. Available shooting guards include O.J. Mayo, Tyreke Evans, J.J. Redick, Randy Foye and Kevin Martin. The class could also be bolstered by Monta Ellis and J.R. Smith should they choose to decline their player options for next season.
Another name sure to attract plenty of interest is Philadelphia 76ers guard Nick Young. The sixth-year veteran has averaged 10.9 points on 36 percent shooting from three-point range this season for Philadelphia after signing a one-year deal last summer. Young has been a free agent for consecutive years, but this summer he’s making it clear that his priority is to finally lock in a long-term deal.
“I’m just trying to get a long-term contract,” Young said. “I’m just going to weigh my options and see what goes on. Free agency is crazy. I’ve been in it the last two years. I’m just hoping for the best.”
The Sixers acquired former All-Star center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers last summer and Young was signed by the team because of his outside shooting prowess. But Bynum, who was expected to be the franchise cornerstone, never played a game for the Sixers this season due to recurring knee issues. As a result, the Sixers have struggled throughout the campaign and a team that was just one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago is now on the outside of playoffs looking in this season.
Young believes the presence of Bynum would have dramatically shifted the Sixers’ fortunes and admitted the center’s injuries were constantly on the team’s mind throughout the year.
“I think it is in the back of everybody’s head,” Young said on Bynum’s injury woes. “Obviously he didn’t get a chance to play and touch the court, but if he did it would probably be a little different right now.
“We’re just trying to go out on top and play hard to the end. You know, it’s still a little bit of season left so we can’t give in now. Got to play until it’s over.”
While Young didn’t rule out considering a return to the Sixers next season, the guard expressed optimism about being able to go through the free agency process and evaluate his options. Young says the trade market will have a big influence on not only his situation, but the rest of his peers’ free agency value as well this summer.
“The last couple of years during my free agency we had a couple of big names traded,” Young said. “We’ll see what happens this year. We’ll see where people get traded because there’s always some big trades that pick teams up. That’s the tough part because everybody needs a team.”
Young signed with the Sixers for $5.6 million last summer after splitting the 2012 campaign with the Washington Wizards and the Los Angeles Clippers. While with the Clippers, Young got his first taste of the postseason and it would appear a playoff contender would have the inside track of securing his name on a long-term deal.
“There’s nothing like the playoffs,” Young said. “It’s the atmosphere, the TV and everybody is watching. It’s just the crowd and being in that environment is crazy.”