The Los Angeles Lakers may be facing another season of uncertainty, but the moves that GM Mitch Kupchak has made this summer at least provide the storied franchise with a ray of hope for 2013-14. Signing Nick Young was just the latest of Kupchak's sage, cost-effective acquisitions.
The USA Today's Sam Amick confirmed the news through Young's agent, Mark Bartelstein:
Nick Young to the Lakers, per agent Mark Bartelstein.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 11, 2013
Incredibly, Kupchak was able to land Young for the veteran's minimum, according to ESPN.com's Nick Borges (subscription required), which is approximately $1.2 million.
Borges notes that Young, a former University of Southern California standout, has always wanted to play for the Lakers. Marc Stein of ESPN corroborated that anecdote:
Speaking @NickSwagyPYoung, Bartelstein calls Lakers "team he always dreamed of playing for"— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 11, 2013
At 6'7", Young is a valuable, athletic swingman who is a volume shooter and is an ideal fit in head coach Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced, "Seven Seconds or Less" offense.
Young is easily criticized for questionable shot selection and for not quite living up to his potential as the 16th overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft. In his defense, though, the 28-year-old hasn't really played for a stable franchise for an extended period of time—nor a team as storied as the Lakers.
The history and tradition of the Lakers, and the fact that Young has always dreamed of playing there may be just the change of scenery he needs to take his game to the next level, even if he's only slated to be a one-year rental player.
Something about LA coming off a rather tumultuous campaign and Young's promising but inconsistent career makes the match strangely appropriate.
If Kupchak didn't see anything promising in him, he wouldn't have reached out to Young. It's a low-risk move, and after all, Young has averaged as many as 17.4 points per game in an NBA season.
In Young's most significant playoff action with the crosstown Clippers in 2012, he was actually a stellar contributor off the bench, averaging 8.3 points in 11 games while shooting an impressive 51.5 percent from three-point range.
The length Young provides on the perimeter and the flexibility to play the 2 or 3 is also a huge asset. That's especially so since the Lakers amnestied defensive stalwart Metta World Peace on Thursday evening, per ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin.
Even more good news for Young is that he won't have immense pressure on him to carry any majority of the scoring load; that will be up to superstar Kobe Bryant.
Under Bryant's guidance and amid the heat of his competitive fire, the all-around game—especially defensively—for Young should improve. Of course, that's assuming Bryant adequately recovers and returns in a timely fashion from his torn left Achilles.
It would be one thing if Kupchak decided to pay Young close to $6 million, which the Philadelphia 76ers did this past season. However, he was able to steal Young and limit him to a modest salary, which should innately force Young to play hard and be a more efficient player.
The addition of Chris Kaman and presence of Pau Gasol on the inside gives LA two veteran post presences who can pass and hit shooters such as Young in the pocket for open perimeter looks. There's also Steve Nash, who if healthy, is the very best at running D'Antoni's system.
Who will have the biggest contribution to the Lakers next season?
Regardless of what happens, the patch-up job Kupchak has done to the roster this offseason to make it at least somewhat respectable has been extremely underrated and intriguing to see as it's developed.
Young has the fearless personality and confidence to succeed on the big stage in Los Angeles, and will have ample offensive talent around him to be a prominent contributor.