This past off-season, the Lakers picked up Nick Young and a slew of other free agents at bargain basement prices, which in the NBA is somewhere around 1 million dollars per year. Young signed with the Lakers on July 11, 2013 for the minimum contract for a player with 6 years of service, 1.1 million, and negotiated a player’s option for the 2nd year at 1.2 million.
With only 16 games in the season remaining for the Lakers, Young is having to contemplate how he is going to approach free agency in 2014. Does he pick up that 1.2 million dollar option and remain a Los Angeles Laker, the team he followed growing up as kid in Los Angeles or does he opt out and attempt to cash in on a season where he averaged 16.8 points per game coming off the bench, which currently leads the league for reserves.
Young is working to get back on the court as he recovers from injury and talked a bit about future with reporters on Monday.
“I want to get out there. This could be my last couple times playing here. You never know. I’m a Laker fan for life.”
While this was a bounce back year for Young, it was only last year when he was an afterthought in free agency, being over looked by teams until the more attractive free agents were off the board. He surely will command more than the 1.2 million dollar option he has available, but is it going to be enough to justify leaving a situation that he once dreamed of being in when he was growing up as a Lakers fan? Young showed this season that he can be a valuable scorer off the bench similar to that of a Jamal Crawford, but will still have all of the concerns that hovered over him last year, which was a player that played little defense and has a penchant for going outside of the offensive game plan. Is a slight raise in salary reason enough to leave the Lakers and miss out on some unfinished business, which was playing next to one of his idols, Kobe Bryant.
“I thought for sure I was going to play more games with Kobe Bryant and things were going to be a lot different,” said Young. “But it happens. He got hurt. Nobody knew everybody was going to get hurt like this this year. It’s been tough. So, let’s see what happens next year and see what they do.”
The Los Angeles Lakers will be frugal with their money this off-season and it is unlikely that they would commit anything more than 1 to 2 year minimum contracts for players that aren’t transcendent stars. While Young is a very talented and valuable player that the Lakers would love to retain, he is not going to change the direction of a franchise and does not warrant taking up significant cap space which could be used for a player that is. Role players like Young are readily available in the free agent pool every year as the Lakers showed last year.
If Young does get offers in the 5 million per year range, the Lakers should not, and I believe will not match. That will open the door for the other guys on the current roster, such as Xavier Henry, MarShon Brooks, Kent Bazemore and Jodie Meeks to be retained.
– Fern Rea
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