The message Lakers coach Byron Scott delivered to Nick Young during his exit interview on Tuesday may have sounded familiar.
Scott instructed to Young that he will need to improve on his career-low 36.3 percent mark from the field by learning how to move better without the ball, become a better catch-and-shoot scorer and become more aware as an off-ball defender. But the Lakers’ coach provided a personal message along with his X’s and O’s.
“It’s not about me or anything else but you getting better as a basketball player and to help you and help us as a basketball team,” Scott said after Wednesday morning’s shootaround at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “I have no agenda. I tell that to all my guys that ask me after the season and that don’t ask me. I say, ‘This is what you need to work on to get better as a basketball player coming into the next year.’ Nick is no exception.”
Yet, Young became an exception.
Two weeks ago, Young had scoffed at Scott’s critiques by telling Los Angeles News Group that he takes them “with a grain of salt” and that he considered them “a little unfair.” Young sang a different tune to reporters after his exit meetings on Tuesday. Young said “me and coach are cool” and that “we’re on the same page.” Young then added, “I take that as he wants me to get better.”
“What he called at that particular time criticism is coaching. I told him the same thing yesterday,” Scott said. “There are certain things you have to get better at on both ends of the floor. You do those things, there’s a great chance you’ll be able to do the things that you are accustomed to doing. If you don’t, it’ll be hard for you to get on the floor with me. That’s what I demand.”
Whether Young has that opportunity remains uncertain.
Though Young is under contract for three more years worth $16.3 million, the Lakers will try to trade him this offseason. Yet, such a scenario seems complicated because of Young’s poor season and the Lakers’ likely refusal to attach any draft picks in any offer.
Young plans to rest in the next few weeks both to heal a fractured left kneecap that has keep him sidelined for two months and to relax. But Young vowed he work on his game this summer.
So what’s at the top of the list?
“Movement without the ball. Everything can’t be done with the ball,” Scott said. “Making better and quicker decisions with the ball. I just firmly believe in an offense that if you need more than three dribbles, pass it. If you can get to the basket in two or three dribbles, get to the basket. If you can go one or two dribble pull up jump shots, that’s’ fine. All of those things are great for me.”
Scott then said he praised Young about his on-ball defense, a criticism that tends to become overblown. But Scott stressed that Young’s weakness rest on his off-ball defense.
“He has to do a much better job of that,” Scott said. “Being in the help defense and understanding our rules in certain situations and being able to rebound the ball. He can’t be a spectator. That’s the biggest thing. I know he has the capability of doing it. It’s just a matter of doing it every single night. That has to be a priority.”