After an incident in which video D’Angelo Russell recorded of Nick Young admitting to infidelity became public, it seemed clear the two wouldn’t be able to coexist in a locker room together. Doubly so when Young’s engagement to fiancee Iggy Azalea ended in the months following.
Most expect the Lakers will part ways with Young, either by dumping his salary in a trade or buying him out via the stretch provision.
According to Young, that may not be necessary. He told Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News he thinks he and Russell can be teammates again, and that the two are already attempting to patch up their relationship.
“We’re teammates,” Young told Medina. “It’s been so long, so it’s kind of old... We’ll be able to work it out. We’ve already been working it out. It is what it is. I can’t be mad forever.”
The whole piece is worth a read, with Young laughing off Russell’s Foot Locker commercial and saying he’s excited to play for Luke Walton, among other things. It’s newsworthy because it was always assumed Young wasn’t going to let this go after how upset he clearly was in the wake of the incident.
This does remove a potentially thorny obstacle for the Lakers heading into the season, but they still very well could choose to move on from Young (who our writers ranked as the least valuable Laker heading into the season). Young was just not a helpful player last year, and while it would be inadvisable to give up assets to deal his contract, the Lakers still might be better served by stretching his cap hit using the aptly named stretch provision.
Doing so would leave the Lakers with $2.2 million in dead money on their cap for the next five years, which may not be a huge issue with the cap projected to rise above $100 million next season.
However, the Lakers could also decide to see if Young can return to (or at least get near) the level of play that led them to offer him a multi-year deal in the first place. Luke Walton’s offense won’t be the same as Mike D’Antoni’s, but he will likely want to play with pace and use three-point shooters around the floor.
Young had success in that type of system before, and it’s possible he could again. Patching things up with Russell is big step in the right direction, but it’s not the end of the road towards finding out where Young will play next season.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.