Lakers head coach Byron Scott gave a frank reason for that in his meeting with reporters Monday: Young's mind is not with the team.
“It was strictly a basketball decision,” Scott said, per Mark Medina of InsideSoCal. “It was all based on because I know how he’s feeling right now. He’s not really here with us.”
While Scott acknowledged he was concerned about Young's mental readiness, he denied the guard's benching has to do with a potential chemistry issue with D'Angelo Russell.
“It has nothing to do with the chemistry,” Scott said. “It has everything to do with just basketball.”
Russell and Young are at the center of a controversy that's melded locker room etiquette, social media and infidelity into an unprecedented story. Last month, a video of Young discussing bringing home a woman who was not fiancee Iggy Azalea leaked onto the Internet. Russell, who was pictured in the video, later revealed he was the one who secretly made the recording.
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"I can't really show my face anywhere without people hating me right now," Russell said last week, per ESPN.com. "I don't know. I try to handle it the right way and remember why I'm here, which is to play basketball." He also said he felt "sick" about the situation.
To be fair, Young was on the outs with the Lakers before this situation cropped up. He did not play in the eight games prior to the video leaking. While it's not known when the recording took place, there has been no indication Young was aware it would be made public.
“It’s been tough. This is probably the icing on the cake as far as how tough it can be,” Scott said. “He didn’t get off to a great start. His shooting has not been what it has been in the past. It went even a little downhill to the last couple of months. The situation last week didn’t help. We all as coaches, players and everybody feel for him and we understand the situation he’s in. It’s a tough situation.”
Young, 30, is averaging a career-low 7.3 points on 33.9 percent shooting—also a low mark of his nine NBA seasons. His scoring average is barely half of what it was last season and more than 10 points off his breakout 2013-14 campaign. Young, one of the few L.A. players on a long-term deal, is under contract with the Lakers through the 2017-18 season.
Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.