EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Nick Young has missed 16 of the Lakers' last 17 games because of a non-displaced fracture of the patella and a bone bruise in his left knee, but there is one major motivating factor for the Los Angeles native to get back on the court at some point in the final 16 games of the season.
"For me, I just want to go out there and just end it on a good note," Young said before practice Monday as he was preparing to do his first 5-on-5 workout since playing 20 minutes against Brooklyn on Feb. 20. "I want to get out there. This could be my last couple times playing here. You never know. I’m a Laker fan for life."
Young has a player option for next season that would pay him $1.2 million to stay in L.A., but his knee injury complicates things. His averages of 16.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists in just 28.6 minutes per game would suggest that the 28-year-old swingman could demand more money on the open market, but an unclear bill of health would put that in jeopardy.
"I hope he gets back," said Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni. "I think he needs to have a good, strong finish. He did really well, I thought, at first and he needs to get back. So, as soon as he can get healthy enough, we want to get him back on the floor."
Young said he wants to see how his body responds to a few practices before he plays in a game. The Lakers host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday and his former team, the Washington Wizards, on Friday.
"It just depends on how I feel, really," Young said. "Earliest is probably Friday."
"Just dealing with pain, trying to push off it," Young said. "If I get bumped again, I don’t want to just be out for the year because of all of the pain."
The Lakers have gone 5-11 without him.
"It’s been hard," Young said. "Especially some of these games when we’ve just been getting killed out there, it’s tough. I want to be out there and play with these guys. That’s what I’m here for."
Young has tested the knee in shooting drills several times over the last month and decided against wearing a brace to support it Monday.
"Wearing a brace makes you look old, man," Young said. "I can’t be looking like that out there."
Young is also trying not to look as round as the No. 0 on his uniform.
"They say I’m looking fat out here so I got to get out there and get in shape," said Young, admitting that he needs to be more strict with his diet. "I don’t want to blow up."
He said that there is also a mental challenge that comes with the physical one.
"I’ve been chilling, really," said Young. "Just in the back, watching TV and eating. So I got to get my mindset back to playing and getting out there."
Even though Young said, "I felt like I did a lot this year for myself," the seven-year veteran has been mostly disappointed by how his first season with the Lakers has gone.
"I thought for sure I was going to play more games with Kobe (Bryant) and things were going to be a lot different," said Young. "But it happens. He got hurt. Nobody knew everybody was going to get hurt like this this year. It’s been tough. So, let’s see what happens next year and see what they do."