The gesture usually serves just a photo opportunity. Otherwise the moment becomes forgettable perhaps except for the player holding his uniform.
When Lakers rookie forward Kyle Kuzma displayed his No. 0 jersey at his introductory press conference as the team’s No. 27 draft pick on June 29, however, the moment meant plenty to Nick Young. It gave him the strongest message on how the Lakers felt about retaining him once free agency would begin in July.
“Once I saw my number being given away, I knew it was pretty much over,” Young said on Sunday after playing in a Drew League pickup game. “That was a giveaway right there.”
Young had sent his own signal about a likely departure after opting out of his $5.7 million option to become a free agent. While the Lakers were intent on preserving cap space and investing in most of their young roster, the 32-year-old Young had hoped to join a playoff team after playing for the Lakers during their worst four-year stretch in franchise history (91-237).
While Young saw the Lakers’ lack of interest in retaining him with Kuzma taking his number before free agency even started, he admitted he was not as clairvoyant about joining the Warriors on a one-year, $5.2 million deal through the mid-level exception. After Young’s agent. Mark Bartelstein, informed him about Golden State’s interest on the first night of free agency, Young initially sounded more confused than flattered.
“They’re too stacked,” Young told Bartelstein. “They don’t want me.”
After all, the Warriors won two NBA championships in the past three seasons because of a star-studded cast featuring Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. After losing to Cleveland in the Finals in 2016, the Warriors acquired All-Star forward Kevin Durant to make them seemingly unstoppable.
Most of those players convinced Young of his worth. Durant, Curry, Green and Warriors coach Steve Kerr all met with Young on the first weekend of free agency. Young…