As it often turned out during a basketball game, Nick Young has the ball in his hands.
The Lakers announced on Wednesday that Young formally opted out of his $1.2 million player option, something Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in statement that “we anticipated and expected.” But Kupchak also suggested how Young handles his pending free agency will ultimately dictate his Lakers future.
“We very much appreciate his contributions to last season’s team, and we will hopefully be able to bring him back,” Kupchak said in a statement. “However, he, his agent and the market will dictate his future direction.”
After leading the Lakers last season with a career-high 17.9 points, Young told this newspaper last week that his preference to stay in the purple and gold hinged on a few variables. One, he wants a multi-year deal. Two, Young expressed willingness to take a hometown discount if he maintained his same role and felt optimistic about the Lakers’ rebuilding plan.
The Lakers are reluctant to offer any role player, including Young, any multi-year deal so they can maximize financial flexibility on high-profile players. Even if the Lakers want Young to stay because of his scoring and vibrant personality that made him a fan favorite, his future also partly hinges on which coach the Lakers hire and how Young would fit in with their constructed roster.