Amid the persisting losing and the never-ending injuries stood one reliable source that still made this failed Lakers’ season entertaining.
He dazzled his fans with his acrobatic shots. Young kept fans and reporters entertained with colorful quotes and eclectic fashion choices. He lightened the locker room with his friendly personality.
But when will the Lakers see Young heal his injured left knee in time to return to the court?
“I don’t know. Sometime next week or the week after,” Young said. “I’m going to take it day by day. No rush.”
Young sat out of the Lakers-Kings game Friday at Staples Center, marking his third consecutive game he missed since returning Sunday against Brooklyn after rehabbing a bone bruise and non-displaced fracture in his left knee for the previous two weeks. Young sounded open toward playing on a rehab assignment with the D-Fenders after Xavier Henry appeared in a game Thursday while healing a bone bruise in his right knee. Young joked he’d take at least 40 shots considering his reputation as an erratic gunner.
A Lakers spokesman added he doesn’t think Young is “real close” toward returning. The Lakers have two sets of back-to-backs this week in Portland (Monday), vs. New Orleans (Tuesday), vs. Clippers (Thursday) and in Denver (Friday). Young’s only rehab this week entailed completing a pre-game workout Wednesday in Memphis involving light shooting and weight training.
“I’m going to take my time,” Young said. “I’m focusing on getting back as long as my knee feels good.”
Young still remained in high spirits as he sat by his locker, talking with reporters at length on a variety of topics. That included recently playing basketball with former NBA star Gilbert Arenas on a kids’ sized hoop and hip hop artists.
But he also addressed serious issues, including Pau Gasol and Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni voicing disagreements through the media on their differing philosophies on post-play and small ball. Gasol also complained about the team’s lack of discipline in enforcing consistent ball movement.
“It’s tough. Everybody is on one year deals and everybody is trying to prove themselves,” said Young, who has a player option worth $1.2 million. “I can see where they’re coming from. Everybody is trying to shine and show that they belong. At times, that takes away from trying to win and playing together. It’s the end of the season. We don’t need no division from the team with coaches or players. I understand where Pau is coming from and I understand where Mike is coming from.”
Young, who has averaged 16.8 points on 42.1 percent shooting through 49 games this season, conceded he fell into that trap.
“We all get caught up in it and it’s my turn and I feel like I got to do this and worry about next year,” Young said. “I’ve been at the end of that when I focus too much on it, I have the worst game ever.”
That happened last week when Young’s return coincided with the Lakers acquiring Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks from Golden State for Steve Blake. But Young vowed he won’t let that factor motivate his return. He also expressed confidence he provided enough of a resume this season that will entice the Lakers to keep him.
“That messed with me and got in my head a little bit,” Young said. “But I wanted to get out there regardless. At the end of the day, I don’t want that to be that last game.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org