The acrobatic shots, funny one-liners and eclectic fashion accessories Nick Young shows off may only last two more weeks.
That’s because the Lakers have expected Young will opt out of his $1.2 million player option that will make him a free agent this offseason, leaving open the possibility he could attract more lucrative offers from other teams that the Lakers won’t match. Despite Young recently conceding to NBA.com that he believes he’s worth more than his current salary and that he would like for other teams to pursue him this offseason, his agent told this newspaper that it remains presumptuous whether his client will opt out of his contract.
“It’s obvious what Nick’s value is, but I don’t want to get into that right now,” said Mark Bertelstein, Young’s agent. “He wants to finish the season strong. It’s hard if someone comes up and asks him these questions. We’re not proactively worrying about next year right now. We’re worrying about the moment. He’s done a great job of that and that’s what we want to continue to do. I couldn’t be prouder of the guy. He’s had a great year. We have a couple of weeks left in the season. If Nick is asked those questions, he’s in a tough spot. But Nick’s energy and focus is without question playing the games right now.”
The Lakers love Young for a variety of reasons.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni raves about Young’s shot-creating that has led to an average of 17.8 points per game, a stronger commitment to defense. He also posted 40 points Tuesday against Portland, three points shy of his career-high, recently after missing 16 games because of a fracture and bone bruise in his left knee. Teammates like his talent and playful personality. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss also loves Young’s charisma, believing it matches the glitz and glamour that the franchise personifies. But what about Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and vice president of player personnel Jim Buss?
Kupchak has said he hopes to keep Young, but predicted two months ago that Young would opt out of his contract, which could compromise the Lakers’ hope to maintain financial flexibility. Bartelstein reiterated his stance that he said then that Young’s options remain open.
“We’re going to finish the season and then take a deep breath,” Bartelstein said. “His focus is on doing everything he can to finish as strongly as possible. It’s been a disappointing season from a team standpoint in terms of winning games. But he wants to finish strong for the team. He loves being a Laker. I think it’s obvious in the way he’s playing and the energy he brings every night. When the season is over, we’ll sit down and talk about those things at that time.”