So many things happened that made Nick Young’s normally infectious smile turn into a frown.
The Lakers finished 21-61 last season in what marked their worst record in franchise history. Young shot only 36.6 percent from the field, his worst mark in his eight-year NBA career. He missed the last two months of the season because of fractured left knee. Through it all, Young clashed with Lakers coach Byron Scott amid his role, his inconsistency, his tardiness to games and for an infamous post-game celebration. Once it all ended, the Lakers tried trading Young this summer only to find uninterested suitors.
But Young reported to the Lakers’ training camp still bearing the same smile, vowing that he will write a script that entails a happier ending.
“We all got something to prove,” Young said. “I went in my Batcave and got my mind right. I feel good. I got away from everything and got back to playing and enjoying it.”
Young has said he focused this summer both on weight training and on following Scott’s advice to diversify his game as a passer, off-the-ball shooter and defender. After the two strongly became at odds last season, the tension has simmered down. Two weeks after publicly expressing his frustration about Scott’s criticism, Young changed his sentiment following his exit meeting. Young said the dialogue continued this summer.
“It’s been great. We sat down and talked and went to his camp and talked to his kids,” Young said of Scott. “We needed to go through that and needed to talk. I’m just going to do whatever it takes to get out there.”
If not, the Lakers could lean more on Lou Williams. Though Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak have maintained the two could co-exist, Williams is the reigning NBA’s sixth man of the year because of his high-volume scoring. The sentiment around the NBA suggests Williams has a positive locker room presence, something that lacked in Young’s second-year with the Lakers amid his aforementioned struggles.
How will this dynamic work if the Lakers encounter early-season struggles or Young falls out of the rotation?
“I’m not trying to be the center of the soap opera or the drama. I’m going to end up doing Marshawn Lynch interviews,” Young joked, referring to the Seattle Seahawks’ running back for declining media requests. “I’m going to take the Marshawn Lynch approach. I’ll put Swaggy in a cage.”
Young stayed in true form, however, during the Lakers’ Media Day on a number of topics.
He offered an optimistic prediction on Kobe Bryant’s 20th and perhaps final NBA season after nursing season-ending injuries in the last three seasons to his left Achilles tendon, left knee and right shoulder.
“He’s going to play a full season. I know it’s been tough on him,” Young said of Bryant. “He’s not used to being in situations like this. It was a blessing in disguise. I think he learned from it. I see he’s been going to each booth today. He normally skips out after a few minutes. He’s ready.”
Young laughed about the potential comedy as he readies sharing a locker room with Metta World Peace. Will Young legally change his name to “Swaggy P” the same way the former Ron Artest did?
“Nah, that’s too much work,” Young said. “It’s already pretty much my name. Nobody calls me Nick out there in the streets. I’ll change my name back to Nicholas. Call me Nicholas for now on.”
Then Young retold an old joke on how he blamed last shooting woes on the rim, saying he would take it on the date even if it made his fiance, hip-hop artist Iggy Azalea, jealous.
“We got back on the same page,” Young said of the rim. “I took her to Morton’s Steakhouse, got her a steak or two. Now I’m good. It’s going to go in this year.”
The Lakers anxiously await.