Dave McMenamin of ESPN reports that the 29-year-old forward has opted out of his contract. The player option for the upcoming season would have paid him $1.2 million.
For Young, the move isn't as much about leaving the Lakers as it is about securing more money after his breakout season last year. The electric scorer expressed his desire to stay in Purple and Gold, via McMenamin:
"I always wanted to be a Laker and it will be a dream come true to still be here, but it's crazy," the seven-year veteran said in April. "You never know what happens. Last year they had a whole different team. It's obvious they're going to make some changes."
The problem going forward is that—as Young says—changes are on the horizon for the Lakers. After an abysmal 27-55 season, it's clear that the roster will need to be rebuilt.
Fortunately for the Lakers, they are in a position to do just that. According to Spotrac, the Lakers only have Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Kendall Marshall and Robert Sacre on the roster for 2014. Bryant and Sacre are the only ones committed for 2015.
Looking at the flexibility the Lakers have, there are one of two ways that the Lakers could go about building a contender.
The first is the way most small-market teams build. That means the Lakers take a player with the No. 7 pick in the upcoming draft and look to build a young nucleus over the next few seasons. Marc Stein of ESPN reports that the Lakers are most likely going to keep the pick:
The other course of action is a bit more extreme. Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN have named the Lakers as one of three teams that are looking to make a run at both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN has already pointed out how the Lakers could clear enough cap space to offer two $15 million slots in free agency:
Either way the Lakers decide to go, Young isn't necessarily a fit. Should the Lakers go the most likely route, and look to rebuild the roster around youth, a long-term deal for Young doesn't make sense.
At 29 years old, a long-term deal for Young would take him well into his 30s. Given his style of play, his presence on the roster could turn out to be counterproductive.
Young is the definition of a ball-dominant player on the perimeter. According to ESPN's Hollinger statistics (insider subscription required), Young had the sixth-lowest assist ratio of all qualified small forward's last season and the seventh-highest usage rate.
Combined with the return of Kobe Bryant in the backcourt next season, whatever youth the Lakers add to the roster will find it difficult to carve a role out in the offense with both Young and Bryant on the court.
Should the Lakers look to go the high-profile route and ship off Nash with the No. 7 pick to clear up cap space, Young should still take a backseat to convincing higher profile names to come to Hollywood.
As exciting as Young was as a scorer last season, the final results still speak for themselves. With the offense running through him, the Lakers became one of the league's worst teams. Young would continue to provide some excitement for fans, but not necessarily the desired result in the box score.
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