It has become increasingly clear to anyone monitoring the situation from up close or afar that it would make very little sense for the Los Angeles Lakers to retain Nick Young for any longer.
The former fan favorite has a reported two years and $11 million left on the four-year contract he signed two years ago (the fourth year of the deal is a player option), and while that price tag doesn’t look horrendous under the new cap, it’s probably time for the team to make a change to improve locker room dynamics in the wake of Young’s fractured relationship with D’Angelo Russell after the latter recorded video of the former admitting to infidelity, a recording which later leaked.
It sounds like the Lakers have come to the same conclusion. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reports that “it will be a surprise if [Young is] not traded or waived before training camp.” Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News echoed this sentiment in a radio appearance on Sunday morning, which jives with earlier reports that the Lakers would be “likely” be spending the offseason looking for a new home for Young.
None of this should really come as a surprise. Young had one of the best years of his career under former head coach Mike D’Antoni in his first season with his hometown team, but has been a nightmare since signing his new contract, shooting just 33.9 percent from the field last season.
Given those struggles, it would be a shock if any team was willing to part with anything of significance for Young, but the Lakers might find a team that needs to reach the cap floor after striking out in free agency willing to take a flier on him if Los Angeles included a draft pick.
More likely is the front office being forced to stretch Nick Young, which according to the invaluable Larry Coon's Salary Cap FAQ would stretch the remaining cap hit of Young's deal "over twice the number of remaining years, plus one."
By my rough envelope math, that would leave the Lakers with $2.2 million in dead money on their cap for the next five years, which isn't a large issue with the cap projected to rise above $100 million next season.