When Nick Young signed with the Lakers prior to this season, he almost certainly took a deal below what his maximum value was on the open free agent market.
While his shot selection is questionable at times, he’s a capable scorer who has proven to be able to put up numbers consistently, and has averaged 16.9 points in 28.8 minutes per game for L.A. this season.
There are plenty of teams that would pay more for that type of production than the $1.2 million Young will make with the Lakers if he picks up his player option for next season.
But playing in Los Angeles has its advantages, and Young’s agent said his client would prefer to remain with the Lakers, making it far from certain that he’ll choose free agency.
This week, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak credited Young for having a “great year,” averaging 16.9 points per game and showing a better commitment toward defense. Kupchak then added, “my guess is he’s going to opt out” of his $1.2 million player option in hopes of securing a longer and lucrative deal.
Young politely declined to address Kupchak’s foreshadowing. But Young’s agent, Mark Bartelstein told this newspaper it’s presumptuous to think Kupchak’s prediction will pan out.
“Nick wants to be a Laker,” Bartelstein. “But his focus right now is to get healthy, get back on the court soon and finish rest of the season. That’s a conversation Mitch and I will have, but it’s too early at this point to talk about what he’s going to do.”
If Young wants to guarantee his spot on the Lakers roster for next season, then picking up his player option may be the only choice.
Including Young, L.A. has only four players signed to guaranteed contracts for next season. As the team looks to turn things around with a complete overhaul of its roster, the way it gets constructed may not leave room for Young, especially not at a higher contract number over a few more years.