Wall: "If I don't make the playoffs, it's a waste of time"
Josh Childress did what a lot of people do these days when they find themselves suddenly out of a work.
He went back to school.
Childress, who is one of four players to accept a training camp invite with the Wizards, was 28 credits short of getting his degree in sociology. Camp began Saturday morning at George Mason University in nearby Fairfax, Va.
"I was up at Stanford the past five months, from April to August, finishing my degree and just working out," said Childress, 30, who was the No. 6 overall pick of the Atlanta Hawks in the 2004 draft. "I did (walk in cap and gown). My family came up for it. it was a really good feeling.
"Obviously, being nine years removed it's something that I'm really proud of."
A 6-8 small forward, Childress played just 14 games with the Brooklyn Nets last season before he was released Dec. 29. He averaged double figures in his four seasons in Atlanta, but unhappy with its offer when he became a restricted free agent Childress shocked everyone by leaving to play in Greece after the 2007-08 season.
Childress returned to the NBA two years later with the Phoenix Suns, and it was a disaster even with then-point guard Steve Nash. The Suns were loaded at his position so playing time was sparse and the offense was geared towards spot-up shooters. He latched on with the Nets on a non-guaranteed deal, and was cut in favor of veteran Jerry Stackhouse.
The Wizards have 15 players under contract, the maximum allowed by the NBA when the regular season starts. But Childress still sees opportunity, though his initial answer was "I don't know" when asked why he opted to come here.
The reasons are obvious: He's a versatile player, can guard multiple positions and has career averages of 9.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 52.2% shooting. His skill-set would be of greater value in coach Randy Wittman's system.
"They mentioned to me there's definitely opportunity here," Childress said of Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld and senior VP Tommy Sheppard, both of whom had courted him previously when he was a free agent. "I made the move.
"You see it a lot in the NBA where a guy just doesn't fit a system. I don't feel like I was best suited for that (Phoenix) system at the time. … You have some guys who fit. Some guys who don't. The example I always look at for that is Tyson Chandler. He spent the first part of his career on teams that he just wasn't himself. He gets on Dallas, he gets in New York, now he's defensive anchor, defensive player of the year. It's about the fit."
The odds are against Childress making it. The Wizards have a lot of forwards even with Chris Singleton out about two months after having surgery on his left foot/toe.
"It's gonna be a challenge, no question about it," he said. "You have to come in and work hard -- work harder. Really make an impression that this team needs me. That's my goal."