“I’m a better player than the last time I was here, that’s for sure,” proclaimed Roger Mason Jr. on Monday night, after the fourth day of Washington Wizards training camp. Furthermore, he said, “I’m a better player than I was in San Antonio.”
At least this is what the Wizards are hoping for, but to what degree remains to be seen. Regardless of his chances to show himself as a player, Mason knows the role he signed up for in his return stint with Washington.
“My role is just to share some of the knowledge that I’ve learned,” said Mason. ”Learning from guys like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, you know, pros… being with Amar’e Stoudemire. Those are things that I can bring to Andray Blatche, to let him know how Tim Duncan prepares for games. To let John Wall know how Tony Parker prepares for games. They won championships. So my role now is to come here and teach these guys what champions do.”
But a role as the veteran who comes off the bench in spot minutes, maybe sinks a three-pointer or two? The guy who gives an “atta-boy” as JaVale McGee comes out the game with a sour look? No. Roger Mason doesn’t want to just be that, and from what I’ve seen, he hasn’t been playing like that either.
The relevant question will continue to be Nick Young’s unresolved free agency. As a skill or functionality, however, Mason and Young might not relate to each other so much. Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner writes:
From the moment Mason said there was interest in him coming to Washington, I was curious whether it could be at Young’s expense. Multiple sources told me that Young (scorer) and Mason (veteran) were very different. But Mason may have more “scorer” than Young has “veteran.” Who knows.
But considering the entire Washington Wizards backcourt unit, opportunity is relevant, and Mason is currently taking Young’s. But whose fault is it? Not Nick Young’s. Not his fault that he’s a free-agent, albeit one restricted by the system.
Restricted Free Agency. You’re going to get paid no matter what. Win-win, except for the angst built from Young having to wait for several tiers of dominos to fall before he sees his cheddar. This even though former NBAer Eddie Johnson on HoopsHype.com ranks Young as his No. 1 FA shooting guard (it’s the ‘R’ in front of the FA that sometimes makes the difference). Rarther, it’s the superstars first (aka Chris Paul, a situation that Mason Jr. calls “horrible”), and then some other guys, and then perhaps Nick. In summation: the NBA is holding a lot of hostages.
Yet another angle to this is that Roger Mason could be more than just Nick Young insurance. Michael Lee of the Washington Post reports:
The Wizards have tendered a $3.7 million qualifying offer to Young that he may have to eventually settle for, if the situation drags on much longer.
The underlying fact being that Ernie Grunfeld currently has the right to negotiate a new contract with Young. Grunfeld does not have to wait for another team to make an offer. But the Wizards, being in a situation of rebuilding in a league where there is no true minor league, greatly value roster limits and the evaluation process.
[sidebar fact: The D-League, despite me liking it and it being great and all, is not a true minor league. Pro teams, for the most part, are currently better served in their development efforts by having youth under a more controlled environment at the top level. If David Stern had any sense left, he'd force each NBA team to also own and manage a D-League team.]
Meaning, team management would be just fine with seeing what Nick is made of if he’s forced to play for one season at $3.7 million to achieve unrestricted free agency. If it affects his psyche, well that’s his problem, and the Wizards might be willing to gamble Young’s unrestricted status on it. They are in no rush to lock him up long term, nor should they be.
HOWEVER… were Young to be signed to an offer sheet by another team, Grunfeld would surely evaluate all reasonable opportunities in considering Nick Young, from matching said offer sheet, to letting Young walk, to manuevering a sign-and-trade.
But it all takes time. And David Stern keeps putting his foot in the way of the dominos. Meanwhile, Roger Mason Jr. does his thing.
In The Video Below, You Will See…
- Mason getting to the middle of the paint against a zone-type pressure defense, and a recovering Rashard Lewis, and finishing with the left hand, opposite from the help defense. Someone on the sidelines seems to call Andray Blatche’s name out regarding his own help defense, or lack thereof.
- Jordan Crawford lazily getting caught playing the play instead of the player and going under the screen as Mason steps out to hit a three. Smart player, that Mason.
- Mason not even pump-faking, but using a simple hesitation move against an anxious-to-block-a-shot JaVale McGee, and then getting the spacing to hit a jumper in spite of Blatche’s contest.
- Flip Saunders starting to comment when asked about Roger Mason, and then getting into a spiel about unselfish basketball. [MESSAGE!]
- Roger Mason talking about his role with the Wizards.