Nick Young came out Wednesday saying he would be willing to take a hometown discount, with the caveat being a longer term deal, to stay with the Lakers. Obviously it is exciting for fans to hear one of their favorite players is interested in sticking around, but the real question is would it be a good basketball move?
The Lakers are still looking to preserve significant cap space for the next two off-seasons, so any long term deal will be cutting into their ability to potentially lure max free agents. Any money committed to the long term needs to be money spent wisely.
Young arguably had the best season of his career last season, averaging a career high 17.9 points per game while shooting 38.6% from beyond the arc. In the role of sixth man, Young is among the elite in the NBA. He can come in and take on a team’s offensive load with his dazzling and often ridiculous offensive arsenal. Young mentioned wanting to be the Lakers’ version of Jamal Crawford, which is actually a very apt comparison. Both can shoot from range and create their own offense.
One concern the front office likely has is that Young played much harder knowing he was in a contract year. Players tend to step it up when they have money on the line, so some regression from Young is likely expected. Another is how valuable is Young to a team that has dreams of winning in the playoffs. Young has only been on one playoff team in his career, and that happened when he was traded from lottery-bound Washington to the Los Angeles Clippers, who chose not to re-sign Swaggy. Does his style of play really help foster an environment for the type of success the Lakers are looking for?
But above anything else, money is the most important factor. Nick Young wants a deal with more years, almost certainly 3 or 4. Last season Young took a sub-market deal to come to the Lakers, and he rightfully should want a nice pay raise. Young only made $1.1 million last season – a bargain for 17.9 points a game. With Young’s discount in mind, the Lakers could offer a 3-year $16 million deal that both gives Young a longer deal and significant pay raise, while also remaining team friendly. If the deal gets into the 4-year $24 million range, that is when it could potentially become an issue for the team in the long term.
The Lakers have a lot of roster spots to fill for next season, with only Nash, Kobe, and Sacre under guaranteed deals right now. There are many worse ways to fill it than with Swaggy P. He was a fan favorite and one of the players who truly battled all season long. Young deserves a long term deal, and if the Lakers can hit that sweet spot, it would be a great start to the off-season.