It appeared the Lakers would cut Nick Young before the season, which would have been yet another low moment for Young, who struggled mightily on the court last season, was subject of an embarrassing video posted online by teammate D'Angelo Russell and endured a public breakup with Iggy Azalea.
But Young improbably made the team and, even more improbably, played well. He made 40% of his 3-pointers and competed defensively.
The Lakers, focused on tanking and player development, are shutting down Young for the rest of the season, according to Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News. So, now attention turns to Young’s $5,668,667 player option for next season.
Young and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, said they have not decided, but Young prefers to stay with the Lakers for obvious reasons.
“It’s L.A. I’m from here, family is here,” Young said. “I’ve been here for four years.”
“I’m a wanted man now,” Young said, smiling.
This reminds me of J.R. Smith in 2015. Smith played well for the Cavaliers, opted out of a seemingly modest salary and then found the market far colder than anticipated.
Both shooting guards carry such negative reputations, one good year won’t instantly change the perception.
Young turns 32 before free agency, so this could be his last chance at a lucrative contract. He also appears to enjoy playing in Los Angeles, and if he opts out, the Lakers could move in a different direction. Remember, Magic Johnson inherited, didn’t pick, Young.
I tend to think Young would earn a raise and maybe a long-term deal if he opts out, but his agent should reach out to teams to evaluate the market before Young pulls the trigger on opting out.