Los Angeles Lakers Must Decide Which Players to Keep

By Joseph Crevier
Los Angeles Lakers
Andrew D. Bernstein-Getty Images

Entering the 2013-14 season, Los Angeles Lakers‘ management decided it would be in the team’s best interest to preserve future cap space by signing a multitude of free agents to one year deals last summer. As a result, just about every single player is on an expiring contract with the exclusion of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Robert Sacre, and Kendall Marshall.

Surprisingly, Lakers fans have fallen in love with almost every player on the roster this season. This is probably the first time in NBA history where fans don’t want to break up a team that has gone 25-50 thus far, but at the same time have strong desires to win. It certainly is a difficult situation as current members of the team are great personalities that mesh very well together.

Fan favorite, Nick Young is one of those personalities whose contract is set to expire this summer. Young holds a player option for next season. However in the final stretch of a breakout year, he implied he will likely opt out of his contract. The major question facing Los Angeles is, should they pay Young a hefty salary? I regret saying this, but no. Los Angeles is better off allowing him to leave as he is guaranteed to receive some generous offers this offseason. Overpaying a role player may mean doom for a franchise with no clear direction of where they are headed. Blame cannot be placed on Young’s shoulders though, if he elects to opt out. He is most definitely worth more than $1.2 million a year as a part of the Lakers or not. Sadly, Young’s future with the team is in jeopardy.

Furthermore, both Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry expressed their interest in returning to Los Angeles next season if the circumstances shall present themselves. The former No. 12 overall pick, Henry has finally proven himself as a legitimate NBA player in his best season of his career. Henry has had numerous 20+ point games this season in addition to his stellar defensive efforts. Though inconsistency is still an issue, retaining Henry may be more realistic than Young primarily due to financial reasons. Henry stated a couple of days ago, “If the Lakers want me back, I would love to be back,” so it appears the two sides are on the same page moving towards free agency.

Meeks also went on to voice his interest in remaining a Laker as he too has taken full advantage of the opportunity of increased playing time this season. Not only has Meeks posted outstanding field goal percentages (45 percent FG, 40 percent 3PT), he has expanded his game beyond solely focusing on shooting from behind the arc. Meeks has proven himself as a player who can drive into the lane and finish at the basket, while keeping his outside rhythm. Retaining Meeks may be tough as well, but at the right price he is totally worth an extension.

Joseph Crevier covers the Los Angeles Lakers for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RealJoeCrev, and Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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