Trae Young's play-in exit give Lakers easy choice to make this summer

The Lakers could land Trae Young this summer but should steer clear.
Los Angeles Lakers, Trae Young
Los Angeles Lakers, Trae Young / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers took care of business in the Play-In Tournament by beating the Pelicans in New Orleans. It clinched them the seventh seed in the Western Conference and a date with the defending champion Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs. Wednesday’s Play-In games ensued a star point guard will attempt to angle his way to LA this summer.

The Hawks finished ten games under .500 this season and were bounced in the first Play-In game by the Bulls. Trae Young played through a hand injury but Atlanta was minus-27 with him on the floor as Chicago dominated. The disappointing campaign after two straight first-round playoff exits has fans wanting the Hawks to split up Dejounte Murray and Young.

Atlanta reportedly shopped Murray before the trade deadline, but could not find a suitable deal. They gave up three first-round picks to acquire him from the Spurs after his lone All-Star season, and the Hawks won’t recoup that value. Putting Trae Young on the table would get them a massive return and the Lakers desperately need star power. Both things being true does not make it a wise move.

Lakers need to add star power this summer

LeBron James carried the Lakers to the playoffs with an incredible second half. They needed every ounce of it as the Lakers had a negative-9.4 net rating when LeBron went to the bench after the All-Star break. The 39-year-old should be back in LA next season, but he cannot continue this incredible pace forever.

Anthony Davis is an outstanding defender and strong number two, but he will never be the best player on a championship team. The Lakers have talented role players and are likely better than their record, but need another star if they plan on winning a championship as King James declines.

They have three tradeable first-round picks this summer but may have to make the deal before the draft depending on what the Pelicans choose to do with their option to take LA’s selection in 2024 or 2025. It should be enough to land a star, but acquiring Young remains a mistake.

Trae Young didn’t help the Hawks win this season

Ice Trae couldn’t lift Atlanta this season. They were 22-32 when he played and finished ten games below .500. The Hawks were better with him on the bench and have a 183-224 record in his 407 career games. Expecting Young to come to Hollywood and make the Lakers an instant contender is a fallacy.

The 6’1 point guard struggles mightily on defense and just had issues sharing the ball with a former All-Star. LeBron James will still be the top option for the Lakers. Young does not create for himself or others without the ball. He would have to adjust his game significantly or trading for him would be a repeat of a recent disaster scenario.

Lakers would have another Russell Westbrook situation on their hands

Why did the Lakers struggle after adding the star power of Westbrook? The former MVP needed the ball in his hands to maximize his efficiency, but LeBron did too. When Westbrook played off the ball, he struggled to make an impact and has never been a stout defender. It left the Lakers with a negative at point guard and 1.5 seasons of struggles.

Trae Young is a plus-shooter, but a worse defender than Westbrook. He is uncomfortable setting screens or moving without the ball. Young waits for a pass, then goes to work. That does not work on the Lakers playing off LeBron. This would be a disastrous move for Los Angeles. One that ensures LeBron will end his career hoping to make the playoffs before going out early.

Trae Young just struggled mightily against the Bulls in the Play-In Tournament. The Los Angeles Lakers should avoid acquiring him even at a discount this summer unless they want a repeat of the Russell Westbrook trade.