Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Rumor: Lakers to hunt third star this summer, Trae Young is on the short list

Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - FEBRUARY 01: Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks fouls LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals seconds of the second half at State Farm Arena on February 01, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Getty Images

The Lakers hung a banner in 2020 with two elite stars — LeBron James and Anthony Davis — surrounded by quality defenders and shooters as role players. However, the sense was that as LeBron aged they needed another star and shot creator to take some of the load off, but they misfired on Russell Westbrook in that role. This season, the Lakers have gone back to more of the 2020 model, but the shooting and play around LeBron and AD have not been consistent (partly due to injuries), and they sit ninth in the West. This team is not a title contender.

This summer, expect the Lakers to go big game hunting again — and Trae Young might be at the top of the list, Jovan Buha of The Athletic said in a Q&A (hat tip Jesse Cinquini at Lakers Daily).

“Yes, they are [going after a third star]. And I can confirm that from multiple sources. They are going third-star hunting this offseason. And we’ll see how that affects the D-Lo (D’Angelo Russell) situation. We’ll see how — you probably have to give up Austin [Reaves] in almost any…third-star trade.

"… Now, who’s available? The one name I continually hear is Trae Young. He’s been to Laker playoff games before. He’s a Klutch Sports client. That’s probably the most realistic one right now. What happens with Dallas and Kyrie [Irving]? Do they flame out? Do they lose in the play-in? Do they lose in round one? Does Dallas ultimately break that up? And then what’s the market for Kyrie?”

Dallas has been thriving since the trade deadline after adding Daniel Gafford on the front line to solidify their defense, and by all accounts Kyrie Irving is happy with the situation with the Mavericks. This team is hot going into the playoffs and seems far more primed for a deep postseason run than breaking things up. As Buha later notes, a lot of teams around the league have their eye on Donovan Mitchell, and what happens in Cleveland. The Cavaliers are expected to offer Mitchell a max $200.4 million, four-year contract extension this summer and league sources have told NBC Sports most teams expect he will sign it. Even if he does not, forcing the Cavaliers to consider a trade, Mitchell has long been linked to his native New York and there or Miami is more likely than Los Angeles.

Young may well be available. The sense from league sources has been that either Young or Dejounte Murray will be on the move out of Atlanta this summer (the Hawks are 10-8 since Young went out following a finger injury that required surgery).

However, the Lakers need to ask whether Young is a good fit and worth the price. Young is owed three years and nearly $138 million after this season and to trade for him the Lakers would need to send out matching salary plus picks — Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and Gabe Vincent plus two first-round picks will be about the price (maybe Jarred Vanderbilt could be subbed for Vincent). That’s a lot of depth to surrender.

What do the Lakers get back? An elite offensive shot creator and bucket getter and an excellent passer, but a guy who does not defend and is not known for his hard work off the ball. Because of this and the results (and vibe of teammates) out of Atlanta when they tried to build around him, plenty of front office people around the league wonder if you can build a title contender around Young. He’s an All-Star and an All-NBA player, but is he a fit next to LeBron and Anthony Davis?

There may not be many options for the Lakers this summer. Maybe they make a go at Young or Murray out of Atlanta, but expect them to do something. LeBron will be entering his age 40 season next year, can be a free agent this summer, and will use that leverage to pressure the front office to upgrade. The Lakers are going to have to do something. What that is will be fascinating to watch.