Saturday, May 21, 2022

Lakers’ Kendrick Nunn confirms he plans to opt in for next season: ‘It’s a no-brainer’

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When Kendrick Nunn signed with the Los Angeles Lakers last summer, he likely only expected to stay there for one year. Nunn signed a one-year deal with a player option for a second, but given his prior production, that option was supposed to be a chance for him to hit free agency again after a productive year on a big-market contender. Instead, it’s proving to be his lifeline.

Nunn suffered a bone bruise before the season began. That injury never healed. Nunn made $5 million without playing a single game for the Lakers this season, and that has seemingly made his decision this offseason far easier. “Knowing I just took this entire year off, it’s a no-brainer for me to opt in,” Nunn said at his exit interview with the media Monday. Nunn’s player option for next season would pay him $5.25 million.

If Nunn is the player the Lakers expected him to be, such a contract would still represent fairly positive value. Nunn averaged 15 points per game in two years as a starter for the Miami Heat, and while he’s likelier to hold a bench role for the Lakers, the impending free agency of Malik Monk means that the Lakers could need a replacement as a ball-handling reserve guard. That is a role Nunn, if healthy, is fully qualified for.

If the Lakers plan to retain Monk or trade for another guard, Nunn’s salary could also be useful in a trade. The Lakers have just two players making between the minimum and the maximum right now: Nunn and Talen Horton-Tucker. If they want to get creative in fixing their roster this summer, having tradable salary is a good place to start.

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If nothing else, that makes Nunn’s decision a positive for the Lakers. It’s better to have a player and not need him than to need a player and not have him. Nunn has been a productive player for years, and even if the Lakers would have preferred to have him heathy this season, keeping him next year is a silver lining on the disappointment of a year they just had.

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