Nick Young has been consistently fantastic for the Los Angeles Lakers this season, and it’s mandatory to mention that no one would have expected the first half of this sentence to be a reality heading into the season.
Young’s floor spacing has been a key factor in some of the Lakers’ best lineups this year. He is converting 41.3 percent of his attempts from 3-point range, the fourth-best rate in the league among high-volume shooters, ahead of players like first two-time MVP to blow a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals Stephen Curry and flat-earth truther Kyrie Irving.
As valuable as Young has been for the Lakers, any playoff team could use another shooter, and that reality (in addition to Young’s impending player option this summer and his age making it unlikely he’ll be on the next great Lakers team) have improbably left him with trade value just months after it appeared the Lakers might have to attach an asset to get out from under his contract.
If Young does end up getting shipped out, he told Mark Medina of the Orange County Register that he hopes it’s to a competitive roster:
The Lakers tried trading Young the past two seasons because of his ineffective play. He’s nearing the end of his contract – he has one year remaining on it if he does not opt out – so the trade speculation has resumed. Leading into Thursday’s deadline, the Lakers could look to deal the veteran, who represents one of the few assets they might be willing to part with during a rebuilding season.
“It’s better when you know you’re wanted,” Young said. “I’ll be all right. We’ll see what happens. I’ve been hearing this forever. It’s either stay home or hopefully go to somebody that’s making a push to the playoffs.”
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has been upfront about the team being more active heading into the trade deadline than they have been in past years, but there are still hurdles to dealing Young.
For one, he’d essentially just be a quarter-season rental with no guarantee that he’d stay following the season. There also wouldn’t appear to be a ton of teams that reasonably feel like they’re Nick Young away from contention, and the teams that do may not have the right types of assets to entice the Lakers to make a move.
Young being dealt is still a ways away from happening, but if he is dealt to a team that makes the postseason, the Swaggy-P(layoffs) are going to be lit.
All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.