A.J. Price returned to the Verizon Center on Tuesday for the first time since the end of last season. The point guard didn't believe it would take so long.

The Wizards signed Price to a one-year contract before the 2012-13 season for the role of John Wall's backup. That role morphed initially into a starting gig because of Wall's knee injury. Turned out that his role ended on April 17 in Chicago where Washington played its final game with Price ironically leading the team in scoring.

The team returned to D.C., the organization held exit interviews with players.

"I left here thinking I was coming back," Price said on Tuesday, back in the building where the five-year veteran had his best professional season. The engaging guard didn't return for kicks, but as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who sought backcourt depth this offseason.

So did the Wizards. They just sought it elsewhere. Asked if the team contacted him this offseason, Price said, "No, never did, which is kind of surprising. They're not entitled to at the end of the day."

Price may have thought he'd return to Washington after averaging 7.7 points and 3.6 - both career highs - and providing the locker room with an enthusiastic presence. That ended officially when the Wizards inked free agent Eric Maynor on the opening day of free agency.

"It just let me know they wanted to go in a different direction, just made it more evident," said Price, who made it clear there were "no hard feelings" from his end.