Grade the Trade: Lakers land flawed superstar in wild blockbuster proposal

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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Grading the trade for the Lakers

D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves as a backcourt is not going to get it down for the Lakers. It's too limited defensively without a difference-making offensive impact. Reaves has not taken a step forward this season, and Russell has eroded as a finisher even as his hot 3-point shooting this season propped up his value.

If the Lakers continue losing to the Denver Nuggets and are bounced from the playoffs in short order, a change will have to occur. Trading D'Angelo Russell will be a difficult proposition given his reputation around the league, but perhaps the Lakers could put together a large trade package for someone like Trae Young and then move Russell in a separate move.

Is Trae Young the right fit? There is a lot to like about the pairing, especially with Young's aptitude as a passer. LeBron James loves playing with other cerebral and gifted passers (cue multiple Rajon Rondo drop-ins) and defenses would be hard-pressed to both stop the scoring games of LeBron and Young while also staying in passing lanes to prevent them from diming up teammates.

Young would also give the Lakers a primary scoring threat who can take the reigns as LeBron lessens his load, especially in the regular season. His shooting is less accurate than Russell's but more potent as Young takes shots from well outside the arc, forcing defenses to account for him and increasing his gravity.

With the good out of the way, there is a fair amount of downside risk to be considered as well. Young is the league's worst defender among all players who play significant minutes. He is an absolute sieve even when he is trying, and all-too-frequently he doesn't even do that. Playing alongside LeBron James should improve his effort, especially in games that matter in the playoffs, but he has no defensive instincts and is easily brushed aside.

Young has also struggled to be the co-star for a team, playing his best when he is the heliocentric star. That's exactly how LeBron James has always thrived. Could the two coexist on offense? Would Young's elevation to a better team and a massive market offset placing his "star" underneath that of LeBron's?

It is possible that placed on a winning team with a strong culture Trae Young takes a step up as a competitor and thrives in Los Angeles. It's more likely that his warts are only magnified underneath the bright lights. Yet if the Lakers' window to make a move is this summer, their options may be limited. Trae Young may be an imperfect swing, but he may also be the best swing the Lakers can take.

That makes this a difficult trade to grade. Ultimately, it's one the Lakers should probably avoid.

Grade: C+

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