After a career season with the Los Angeles Lakers, shooting guard Nick Young elected to sign a one-year, $5.2 million deal with the Golden State Warriors. Young officially opting out of his contract was a pretty clear indication to the Lakers that he was pursuing other options on the market. Likewise, Kyle Kuzma getting the no. 0 jersey was a sign to Young that they were moving on as well.
Young’s official choice to join the Warriors came as a bit of a surprise as the 2016-17 NBA champions added another deadly shooter to the roster. The 10-year veteran was able to resurrect his career with the Lakers, after it almost hit rock bottom a couple seasons back. Young’s image became tarnished when rookie D’Angelo Russell’s video made it to the media, an it capped off the worst season of his NBA career.
However, a regime change occurred in the Lakers organization. Head coach Luke Walton was inserted into the limelight of Los Angeles, taking over for the disciplinarian Byron Scott and changing the image of the sharp shooter. In an interview with Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News, Young opened up and was grateful to Walton for helping escape the negative situation surrounding Russell:
“He made the atmosphere different coming from the year with the D’Angelo situation and the Byron Scott situation. It was tough. I just stuck with it,” Young said. “I didn’t want that to be it for me where the last thing people remember me as being in a situation with D’Angelo.”
Young put together an phenomenal 2016-17 campaign, averaging 13.2 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 43.0 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from three-point range. Young also displayed a newfound aggressiveness on the defensive end, matching up against other talented scorers. Walton has been largely described as a players’ coach, with his players constantly giving positive feedback and raving reviews.
That redefining season was what Young needed to escape the previous labels tied to him overall, while also showing that he can still contribute to a winning team on both ends of the court. Young’s decision to opt out of the Lakers $5.7 million offer was a shot in the dark, as he departed with his hometown that gave him all the opportunities in the world, but now he finds himself with his best chance ever to win a championship.