Grade the Trade: Raptors join Trae Young deal, add former All-Star in new proposal

The Toronto Raptors can get creative this summer in joining 3-team trades, such as this one involving Trae Young and the Lakers.
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks / Jamie Sabau/GettyImages
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Why the Lakers make this deal

The Los Angeles Lakers know that they need to add another on-ball creator, be that at the star-level or a really strong secondary level. D’Angelo Russell is not the answer, and this offseason may be their best (and last) great window to put a contender around LeBron James. 

The Western Conference is both fiercely competitive and wide-open; a different team has reached the NBA Finals from the West in each of the last five seasons, and there is no overwhelming juggernaut. The Denver Nuggets certainly have their number, but if the Lakers can improve the roster and find a path to the NBA Finals that doesn’t involve facing Denver — such as the 5th-seeded Dallas Mavericks avoiding the Nuggets this season — LeBron could have a shot at his fifth title.

Trae Young is at his best with an elite rim protector and pick-and-roll partner, and Anthony Davis is just that. LeBron has the cachet to communicate to Trae Young that he is the second banana, forcing him to work off-ball at times. LeBron is also happy for another player to run the show at this point in his career. For all that Young is maligned for his defensive limitations and ball domination, he has driven high-level offenses many times in Atlanta and is still one of the very best passers in the league.

Kelly Olynyk is also a savvy passer, and could back up both LeBron and Davis to give the new Lakers’ head coach a tight rotation option, or even could step into jumbo lineups unlocked with his spacing alongside Davis and LeBron. 

The cost is significant, but not everything in the war chest. The Lakers would be trading Austin Reaves as the centerpiece of this deal, but Rui Hachimura’s contract may already be underwater and Jarred Vanderbilt’s lack of shooting make him a difficult player to put on the court for this Lakers team. Two firsts and two swaps is a lot to pay, but teams don’t have someone like LeBron James on their roster all the time. The time to strike is now.