It was not all that long ago that Nick Young was something of a hero in Los Angeles. During the 2013-2014 NBA season, Young came to the Lakers on a cheap contract that included an opt-out for the following summer. He proceeded to have a career year, scoring an average of 17.9 points per game and becoming an instant fan-favorite thanks to his ability to make difficult shots.
Young cashed out and signed a new, four-year, $21.5 million contract to stay with the Lakers, and his production promptly took a nose dive. A coaching change shifted Young from the warp-speed offense of Mike D’Antoni into the no-nonsense, grit-and-grind approach of Byron Scott, and his stats plummeted. Last season Young appeared in just 54 games and posted horrific averages of 7.3 points and 33 percent shooting in 19.1 minutes.
Add in a late-season spat with rookie guard D’Angelo Russell, and “Swaggy P” quickly morphed from a beloved character into a scapegoat. The Lakers have reportedly tried to trade Young over the past two seasons but have found no interest thanks to the years still remaining on his deal (including a Player Option for 2017-2018). With that being the case, the team has considered going as far as waiving Young, according to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:
“I would frankly be surprised if Nick Young is on the Lakers’ roster at the start of the season. They’ve been trying to trade him for a while. They’re still trying to trade him. They are willing to even buy him out if necessary to move on.”
Should the Lakers decide to waive Young, they could opt to stretch his salary, which would allow the cap hit to be less per year but spread out over more years.
However, the deadline to be able to stretch Young’s salary for the 2016-2017 season was August 31st, and with that date behind us, he will now count on the Lakers’ cap next season for the full $5.4 million that he is owed.
Fans may be eager to be rid of Swaggy P, but this was a wise move by the Lakers. They can still waive Young and stretch the final season of his contract out through the 2019-2020 season if they want extra cap space next summer. Since the Lakers are unlikely to need cap space this season they might as well bite the bullet and absorb Young’s full cap hit now.
They will likely continue to pursue trade scenarios for Young, but if push comes to shove, he could still be waived at any time if the Lakers are truly determined to part ways with Swaggy P.