Thaddeus Young could be on the move—eventually.
One could argue the same holds true for every member of the Philadelphia 76ers who doesn't call himself Michael Carter-Williams or Nerlens Noel, but Young may be actively looking for an exit.
A source told Liberty Ballers' Jake Fischer that Young submitted a "formal trade request" to the Sixers, thereby suggesting he already has one foot out the door. But like most players linked to trade demands do, Young denied the report.
"I just think it is funny that it is 'sources' that say I asked to be traded," Young said, per CSN Philly's Dei Lynam. "I am here, ready to give 110 percent each and every game. I am ready to just play and try to win basketball games."
Requested or not, a trade could be imminent—or happen before the Feb. 20 deadline.
Young's contract runs through 2016-17, and if the Sixers don't see him as part of their future, financial plasticity and promising prospects are king for teams looking to start over.
*All stats come courtesy of Basketball-Reference. All salary information obtained from ShamSports.com and rounded to nearest $100,000, unless otherwise noted. Each trade adheres to NBA's CBA guidelines and were vetted by ESPN's Trade Machine whenever possible.
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: C Omer Asik (two years, $16.7 million).
Houston Rockets Receive: F Thaddeus Young (three years, $28.2 million*) and 2014 second-round draft pick (via Brooklyn Nets).
*Young has early termination option for 2015-16 (final year of his deal).
Why Philadelphia Does It: Beating a dead horse here.
Philly was prominently involved in the Asik sweepstakes before they abruptly ended, according Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. ESPN's Marc Stein also wrote that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was "confident" he could deal Asik to the Sixers if he wanted to, so there is interest there.
Despite being on a poison-pill contract that will pay him $15 million(-ish) next season, Asik fits into Philly's future financial structure. His salary comes off the books after next season, and he's a good stopgap to have at the 5 until Noel is healthy/has more of an NBA-center-ready body.
General manager Sam Hinkie is also familiar with Asik from his days in Houston, so that connection could help speed talks along.
Why Houston Does It: Just end this already.
Asik isn't happy in Houston playing behind Dwight Howard. We know this. Per USA Today's Sam Amick, he's requested a trade multiple times now, hence the Rockets' motivation behind trading him in the first place.
Morey doesn't get his first-round pick in this deal, but a second-round selection is no slouching asset in this coming draft, either. And while Young's contract is a bit hefty, especially when you consider Houston must extend Chandler Parsons after this season, he fits the team's floor-spacing dynamic more than Asik ever will.
Young is shooting 44 percent from deep this season, a career high. His developing range, coupled with his athleticism on the defensive end and in transition, is cause enough for the Rockets to "settle" for this deal.
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: SF Chris Copeland (three years, $10 million*), Danny Granger (one year, $14 million) and 2014 second-round draft pick.
Indiana Pacers Receive: SG Jason Richardson (two years, $12.8 million) and F Thaddeus Young (three years, $28.2 million).
*Third year of Copeland's deal (2015-16) is a qualifying offer worth $3.9 million.
Why Philadelphia Does It: Granger isn't a catch this side of injuries, and the Pacers don't have a first-round pick to offer because of a complicated debt owed to the Phoenix Suns, per RealGM.com. So why would the Sixers do this? The money.
Granger's contract comes off the books after this season, and Copeland is a scorer who can make a contribution unlike the injured Richardson. Washing their books of both Young's and Richardson's deals is a huge accomplishment for a team looking to start over.
Let's not forget Granger could still have some value later on, too. Maybe he regains his scoring touch as the No. 3 option behind Evan Turner and Carter-Williams. Maybe he agrees to stay on after this season at a steep discount, providing much-needed leadership in the locker room.
You never know.
Why Indiana Does It: It's possible they don't, but if they're willing to foot Richardson's and Young's bills, this is worth it.
Pacers team president Larry Bird told the Indianapolis Star's Bob Kravitz he wasn't looking to trade Granger, but wasn't opposed to it. He also insulted the forward's work ethic, saying he "doesn't work hard enough [in the offseason]." Trading Granger for a guy like Young, who is pouring in nearly 17 points per game on 49.9 percent shooting for the season equates to a steal.
Young can play either forward spot and, assuming he comes off the bench, provides a two-way spark Luis Scola just can't.
"We couldn't take back guys who are going to be $14 million next year," Bird said, via Kravitz.
That's the biggest obstacle here—money. With Paul George's extension kicking in next season and Lance Stephenson up for one of his own, paying Richardson and Young becomes excessive. But Richardson's contract comes off the books after next year, making him a valuable trade buffer.
Money aside, this would certainly be an interesting deal for Indiana.
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: C Anderson Varejao (two years, $18.7 million*), SG Dion Waiters (four years, $19.9 million**) and 2014 second-round draft pick (via Orlando Magic).
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: SF Evan Turner (two years, $15.4 million***) and PF Thaddeus Young (three years, $28.2 million).
*Only $4 million of Varejao's 2014-15 salary is guaranteed.
**Team option on Waiters for $5.1 million in 2015-16, followed by qualifying offer worth $6.8 million in 2016-17.
***Turner has qualifying offer worth $8.7 million for 2014-15.
Why Philadelphia Does It: Flexibility. And the draft pick.
Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling says the Sixers are wary of paying Turner the money he'll command, making him available. Replacing him and a potentially disgruntled Young with Varejao and Waiters gives them plenty of options.
Varejao would be an interesting piece to have next to Nerlens Noel next season, provided he's healthy. Only $4 million of his 2014-15 salary is guaranteed, though, so it's not a cap-killer by any means.
In Waiters, they could have their shooting guard of the future. At the very least, Waiters and Tony Wroten would make for an entertaining one-two punch at the 2.
Zwerling also previously reported that Waiters wanted out of Cleveland, citing Philly as one of the shooting guard's preferred destinations. Waiters went on to refute the report, per the Akron Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd, but with the number of alleged issues, you get the sense he isn't untouchable.
Carter-Williams was also a teammate of his at Syracuse, so there's that connection to consider as well.
Why Cleveland Does It: Because the Cavs are smart.
Young and Turner help make them an instant playoff contender this year without fully compromising their future finances.
Turner doesn't have to be re-signed after this season if he doesn't fit in, and Andrew Bynum won't have to be brought back if the Cavs don't see him worth the money, either. If Cleveland gets the sense it doesn't have a chance at luring LeBron James "home," it is then free to bring back Turner and Bynum and build around them, Kyrie Irving and Young.
One of the issues here, though, is perpetuating a logjam at the forward slots. Anthony Bennett, Earl Clark, Alonzo Gee and Tristan Thompson all play the 3 or 4. Adding Turner and Young to this rotational chaos would be overkill, so it's a deal Cleveland wouldn't strike unless it has separate destinations ready to take on some of its other players.
But ESPN's Chris Broussard wrote that the Cavs would be interested in Turner, so if Cleveland doesn't mind the extra financial challenges this presents, there's groundwork for a trade here.
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: PF Thomas Robinson (four years, $18 million*), SF Dorell Wright (two years, $6.1 million) and 2019 second-round draft pick.
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: F Thaddeus Young (three years, $28.2 million).
*Robinson has team option for $4.7 million in 2015-16, followed by qualifying offer worth $6.2 million in 2016-17.
Why Philadelphia Does It: This isn't exactly a cost-cutting move for Philly, but remember, Robinson is a former No. 5 pick. Placing him alongside Noel next season would give the Sixers one hell of an athletic frontcourt.
Wright played for the Sixers last year, where he wasn't too successful under Doug Collins. But he's receiving even less playing time now (13.9 minutes per game) and has previously shown he can fill up the box score in a hurry.
In the long run, the Sixers also save a few bucks here. When you combine Robinson's entire contract—options and all—with Wright's, it falls approximately $4 million short of Young's current deal. And not all of that is guaranteed, since the team could part ways with Robinson after next season. So, flexibility does exist here.
Why Portland Does It: Bona fide bench scorer.
Robinson and Wright are averaging 25 minutes a night combined, which is nothing. Young can come in, space the floor and be Portland's only reserve seeing more than 30 minutes per game.
The Blazers bench ranks 27th in points scored this season, and Young, along with his 16.8 points a night, strengthens its otherwise underwhelming attack. Portland is in win-now mode after getting off to the hottest start in the league, and Young only legitimizes its cause even further.
In giving up two players for one, the Blazers somehow get deeper. That says a lot about how much work their bench still needs—and how much their bench could use Young.
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: C Omer Asik (two years, 16.7 million) and SG Ronnie Brewer (two years, $2.4 million*).
Chicago Bulls Receive: F Thaddeus Young (three years, $28.2 million), 2014 second-round draft pick (via Brooklyn) and 2014 second-round draft pick (from Philly via Houston).
Houston Rockets Receive: SF Luol Deng (one year, $14.3 million).
*Brewer's 2014-15 salary not guaranteed.
Why Philadelphia Does It: Because we already know they want Asik, and because Brewer might actually see some playing time, and because S-A-V-I-N-G-S beyond next season—maybe.
Philly doesn't have to give up a first-round pick here, which is huge. The Sixers also have two years with Asik before deciding whether a combo of him and Noel is worth a serious investment.
Why Chicago Does It: "Chicago isn't trading Deng, you idiot."
That's what some of you will say, since ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported the Bulls wouldn't be dealing him. But pish posh on that one.
Extension talks between Deng and the Bulls stalled before the season started, and while Chicago is making it seem like it may retain him, Young is on a contract Deng will likely never accept. Someone on the open market will give him three years, $36 million—maybe more. It's going to happen.
Why not replace him with a younger, more athletic version of himself? Young isn't as talented defensively, but he's not horrible. He's also a scorer who can knock it down from inside and out. Alongside a (hopefully) healthy Derrick Rose next season, transition attacks comprising each of them and Jimmy Butler would look mighty fine.
The New York Daily News' Mitch Lawrence wrote that Rose is afraid of rebuilding, and that's not what this is. It's more like restructuring, while ensuring either Taj Gibson and/or Carlos Boozer remain expendable because of Young's ability to play both forward spots.
Why Houston Does It: Morey wasn't impressed with any Asik offers, probably because the front-runners for the center, according to Woj—Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, Sixers and Cavs—weren't willing to part ways with first-round picks and were devoid of desirable contracts.
Well, here you go Houston.
Deng is a two-time All-Star who can make an impact on both ends of the floor as a stretch 4 or conventional small forward. This isn't a trigger you pull without the intention of re-signing him this summer, but his expiring pact does give the Rockets options, especially if they find a way to dump Jeremy Lin.
Unlike a Jeff Green or Young, the Rockets know Deng can be a valuable piece on a contender. He doesn't need the ball in his hands to be effective, and Howard would blow kisses at him all game, knowing he's one player he won't have to rotate over and help on the defensive end.
Sounds like a good fit to me.