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Thursday, April 10, 2014
Nick Young: Changes ahead in L.A.

By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- As Nick Young's first season with his hometown Lakers winds down, the high-scoring guard is starting to wonder if these will be his last days in Los Angeles.

Young, who can opt out of his $1.2 million contract for next season with the Lakers to test free agency this summer, said he anticipates a lot of upheaval in the team's future.

"I always wanted to be a Laker and it will be a dream come true to still be here, but it's crazy," Young said after practice Thursday. "You never know what happens. Last year they had a whole different team. It's obvious they're going to make some changes."

Nick Young
According to Nick Young, changes are ahead for the Lakers -- but there's no place like home.

Other than Young, 11 of the 15 players on the Lakers' roster are on expiring contracts. Only seven of the Lakers players on the team a year ago ended up being back at the beginning of training camp in 2013-14.

Young's agent, Mark Bartelstein, told ESPNLosAngeles.com in February that his client played at a discount for L.A. this season, accepting a big pay cut to $1.2 million from the $6 million Philadelphia paid him in 2012-13.

"His value is certainly much greater than what the contract is," Bartelstein said. "There's no question about that. But our goal is to sit down with [Lakers general manager] Mitch [Kupchak] and hopefully work something out so Nick can be with the Lakers for a long time."

Young echoed the same goal.

"This is home," Young said. "I would love to finish off here as a Laker. My kids get to go to school and say, 'My dad is a Laker.' That's big."

The seven-year veteran, who played for three other teams before joining the Lakers, said that playing for the purple and gold is a unique experience.

"It's a big difference than being on any other team," Young said. "You're always in the spotlight. Everybody knows who the Lakers are. And it's a lot of pressure, but you got to be able to handle that. Some people can't, but I think I'm one of them guys that can."

The pressure has been good for his game. Young leads the Lakers in scoring, averaging a career-high 17.5 points per game, along with 2.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists. He was considered a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year earlier in the season, but after the Lakers took a nosedive and he missed 18 games with a fracture in his left knee, Young admitted that the award won't be going to him.

Not that his time with the Lakers hasn't had its other benefits.

"Just wearing that purple and gold has been great, it's been amazing," Young said. "Especially to learn from and share the same locker room as Kobe [Bryant] and pick his brain a little bit. That helped me a lot. Just going out there and being able to play and play my game in front of my fans and family and eat home-cooked meals and wake up and not have to deal with that snow every day."

Young, who went to Cleveland High School in the L.A. suburb of Reseda, Calif., and attended USC for college, was asked if he feels like he has any unfinished business to take care of with the Lakers.

"Most definitely," Young said. "Of course I want to be here and be a part of a team that's going to the playoffs and fighting for championships and really get a chance to get that feeling of being a part of that Laker parade and having my little speech like [Shaquille O'Neal] did, 'Can you dig it?' Have my own sayings, you know? So, I've thought about that a lot. That would really be a great dream come true."

Young made it sound like he thinks those dreams can be realized.

"I'm very confident," Young said when asked about his chances of returning to the Lakers. "I think we're going to come to some kind of agreement and hopefully it happens. We just got to see what they're going to do."

And once he's back in the fold, will he have to start honing that championship speech?

"Obviously the Lakers always find a way to get back into it," Young said. "You can never count the Lakers down too much."