The Lakers’ win over the Suns on Saturday night in Phoenix mercifully put a stop to a frustrating NBA road trip that started with three straight losses. But it won’t put a stop to the fact that, though it is only mid-November, Lakers trade rumor season is already here. And Trae Young is on the menu.
Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus has a doozy for Lakers VP Rob Pelinka, what he is dubbing a “panic trade” borne of L.A.’s disappointing 4-5 start: The Lakers pulling off a blockbuster deal for Hawks star Trae Young.
Now, it should be pointed out that just about any Lakers trade rumor is not actionable until December 15, which is when newly signed players can be dealt. Since the bulk of the Lakers’ roster is newly signed, they can’t make a deal until then. And for Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura, trade eligibility kicks in on January 15.
Having said that, let’s see what Pincus is proposing.
Lakers receive: Trae Young, Bruno Fernando and Wesley Matthews
Hawks receive: D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, Taurean Prince Jalen Hood-Schifino and a 2029 first-rounder.
‘Young Is a Polarizing Player’
It would be quite the haul for the Lakers, and would give them the third star many claim they need to be a championship contender. There are, of course, problems with the deal on both sides.
Would a no-defense, ball-dominant guard like Trae Young fit with the Lakers (remember what happened to Russell in the Western Conference finals)? Would the Hawks be willing to give up on their franchise player? Would one first-rounder be enough?
“Young is a polarizing player, capable of great heights, but is a defensive liability and isn’t especially effective without the ball in his hands. That could work with James, Davis and complementary defenders—or it could be a mess.
“He’s also represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, the agent for James and Davis. The Lakers have a history of bringing in Klutch clients, and Young could try to follow in the footsteps of James Harden (who successfully forced his way to the LA Clippers). That’s a big assumption, but Young’s tenure in Atlanta has been on the watch list for some time.”
Young has a career scoring average of 25.4, so there is no doubting his star credentials. But he is averaging 24.4 points this year as he has been laboring through a shooting slump—35.7% from the field and a woeful 29.4% from the 3-point line.
That might make him the perfect target for a Lakers trade rumor. The team is, after all, shooting 31.1% from the 3-point line this season, 28th in the NBA.
Lakers Trade Rumors: Would the Hawks Move Trae?
If there is one thing that could nudge the Hawks into a Lakers trade for Young, it is the whopping $215 million contract extension he signed in 2021. He is in the second year of that deal and is owed $40 million for this year, with $176 million still on the books for the next four years.
That deal could be an incentive for the Hawks to accept less in a trade, if they want to get out from under that payment. Even still, with only one first-round pick available to trade (in 2029) because the Lakers owe picks in 2024 and 2027, there probably are just not enough assets to land Young.
This weekend, ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski spoke about the Lakers’ dearth of assets.
“We documented this last year,” he said. “The Lakers used one of their important (picks), 2027 first-round pick, now they have one first-round pick they can include,” Woj said. “That’s probably not gonna be (enough). … We are very early. I think the idea that the Lakers could make some big wholesale trade may not be realistic. They don’t have enough.”