Guard Nick Young was no doubt the most entertaining player on the Los Angeles Lakers this season. From funny nicknames, to laughter on the court, he was always a fun player to watch. His mini-scuffle midway through the season reminded fans of the competitive edge that he still has, and helped to bring the team together. He had a very good season scoring-wise, but because of this, will likely be looking for a larger contract than the Lakers can offer.
Young had arguably the best season of his career with the Lakers. He flourished in Mike D’Antoni’s system, playing with the freedom that allows him to strive. He averaged almost 18 points a game, and was one of the few players on the team who could create his own shot. He was the ideal sixth man, coming off the bench to provide a much-needed scoring spark.
Young has also mentioned many times that he enjoys being in Los Angeles. This is where he grew up playing, and he enjoys the spotlight of playing in a big market. He has become a fan favorite and will likely have more marketing opportunities in the future.
The problem is that Young played extremely well this season, and will be in the market for a huge pay raise. He already took a steep hometown discount, but it is unlikely that he will do it again. He deserves a long-term contract, but the Lakers cannot afford to pay him market value.
While many Laker fans will miss him, it just is not reasonable to bring him back for a large contract. The Lakers need to keep flexibility for the future as they look for another superstar to get them back into championship contention. Unless Young is willing to sign for another discount, the Lakers should let him enter free agency.