Grade the Trade pitch: Lakers land two superstars in massive summer shakeup

A recent article has suggested that the Los Angeles Lakers execute a blockbuster trade for Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young. How much sense does it make?
Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks
Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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The Grade

With or without the loss of LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers are limited in their assets. Cap space would be created by the removal of James' cap hold, as well as that of D'Angelo Russell, but adding Paul George would bring Los Angeles right back to its current predicament.

The addition of Trae Young would give the Lakers one of the most balanced big threes in the NBA, but at what cost?

Young and Anthony Davis would all but instantly form an elite pick-and-roll combination that could dominate teams in the regular season and postseason alike. Defnsively, Davis and George would make for one of the few pairings that could successfully cover up for Young's shortcomings.

Furthermore, all three of Davis, George, and Young have led teams to the Conference Finals within the past four seasons—with Davis doing it twice and even winning a championship with the Lakers.

On that level, this is a Grade-A trade that would help Los Angeles instantly recover from the loss of LeBron James. The reason the grade takes a rather serious hit, however, is the fact that the team would be flirting with the second apron without much depth at all to fill out the roster.

With the loss of Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves, and either Jarred Vanderbilt or Gabe Vincent, the only players officially signed to the Lakers would be Jalen Hood-Schifino, Maxwell Lewis, one of Vanderbilt or Vincent, and Christian Wood.

With a seven-man roster, as many as three draft picks shipped out, and painfully limited cap space, the Lakers would be in a brutal spot. There's enough balance in the star power to offset some of those concerns, as Young, George, and Davis fill backcourt, wing, and interior holes.

Relying on players signed to the minimum and one asset acquired on the Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception of $5,220,000, however, the Lakers would complement their big three with hardly any established or prime-year talent.

One look at the Phoenix Suns, led by Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, and Kevin Durant, should tell Los Angeles how dangerous of an approach that can be.

Trae Young to the Lakers. B. Trae Young acquired via trade. Paul George signed to replace LeBron James. Trae Young & Paul George shake up the Lakers

Throw in the injury concerns facing Davis, 31, and George, 34, and this is an A-level trade on paper brought down to a B due to the nonexistent margin for error. On that level, it's also worth noting that Young missed 28 games in 2023-24 due to injury.

It's an undeniably captivating idea that has clear championship potential, but the risk brings a slam-dunk of a trade down to a level that acknowledges the influx of talent and the absence of depth in balanced measure.