Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak defends Nick Young’s personality

LA Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak gives pre-season media interview at Laker's Training Facility in El Segundo. Photos by Brad Graverson/LANG/09-24-15

LA Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak gives pre-season media interview at Laker’s Training Facility in El Segundo. Photos by Brad Graverson/LANG/09-24-15

As he continuously took shots that did not go in the basket, Lakers forward Nick Young upset coach Byron Scott in other ways.

Scott became frustrated that Young did not improve his passing or defense to compensate for his inconsistent shooting. Scott then became irked with Young’s frequent tardiness to games that he often fined him. Scott also chastised Young for interrupting Jeremy Lin’s post-game interview following a win against the Celtics, something Young had frequently done earlier in the season.

Yet, Lakers’ general manager Mitch Kupchak dismissed any notion that the Lakers’ concerns about him partly reflect his “Swaggy P” persona. Instead, Kupchak argued it all traces back to Young averaging 13.4 points on a career-low 36.6 percent shooting before missing the last 27 games because of a fractured left knee.

“He doesn’t have to change his personality,” Kupchak said. “That’s not what this is about. This is about doing what the coach wants you to do on the court. And he knows that. I don’t want to make a bigger deal about this than it really is.”

Yet, this has become a big deal for a number of reasons.

The Lakers tried trading Young this offseason, only to keep him after failing to find any suitors. The Lakers also acquired guard Lou Williams, who won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season with the Toronto Raptors after averaging 15.5 points per game. Shortly after that deal, Young had a meeting with Kupchak, which Young said partly entailed the Lakers’ general manager assuring him not to feel slighted about the move. Kupchak also argued Young and Williams have different skillsets despite both having the reputation of high-volume shooters that treat defense as an afterthought.

“I think they’re both wildcards to a degree,” Kupchak said. “I think Nick has more to prove this year than he did last year. He got injured last year. He clearly didn’t play the way he did the year before. He has to make our coach happy. I think that’s the difference. I don’t think Lou is in the same boat.”

How so?

“I think they’re different. Lou, from my understanding, is a great teammate. On the court, he’ll fit in to what Byron wants done. Nick did not last year. He has to figure out a way to get healthy, stay healthy and earn the minutes that he wants on this team.”

Young had said this summer he followed Scott’s advice to improve his ballhandling, spot-up shooting, off-ball defense and passing when facing double teams. Both Williams and Young publicly expressed optimism the two can blossom together because each player’s presence will create more open looks. But it remains to be seen how that plays out in real time, particularly if the Lakers’ win totals and Young’s statistics stay low.

But Kupchak believes otherwise.

“He has a lot to prove this offseason coming up,” Kupchak said. “He knows it and I think he’ll have a good camp.”

RELATED:

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Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak reiterates support for Byron Scott

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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  • mae jude

    is nick the only player on the lakers. nick missed 42games last yr.so how was it nick fault. what i think is they brought nick in as a scrape goat for the lakers bad coaching and bad mangerment.

  • cy1

    Nick is a talented scorer and he is only going to get better if he does the right thing , I wish he would dump the distraction ” IZZY ” and put his 100 % focus on basketball again otherwise I am afraid he is going to end up like Lamar if he keeps on this same road !!!!!!!!

  • Cornell33

    I don’t blame Scott for being mad at Nick Young. He is a clown and immature. He needs to grow up and improve his game offensively and defensely and leave that “Swaggy P” mess at the door. In order to improve this season, the Lakers are going to need him and others to bring there “A” game everynight. Even though there did not get the players that there wanted in free agentsee, the roster is not that bad.

  • nlruizjr

    when is it so bad to have a happy go lucky attitude, I didn’t hear any complaining when Magic would be constantly smiling or harping about partying all the time or Ron Artest or Robert Horry, etc. Now all of a sudden because Swaggy’s personality is happy go lucky, everyone wants to jump all over him, like he isn’t serious about playing his game, there are plenty of games that our serious players lost and no one harps on them for losing, get real, some of the blame should go on the coaching staff not putting a good game plan together or using team members effectively and throwing certain team members under the bus/foxhole instead of looking at themselves and only certain players made us look bad, BS, if the shoe fit, then dust off your mirror !!!!