Lakers Rumors: LA Smart to Back off Nick Young Trade in Favor of Depth

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2015

Los Angeles Lakers forward Nick Young smiles during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Los Angeles, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. The Los Angeles Lakers won 118-111 in overtime. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Chris Carlson/Associated Press

The hottest name on the trade block over the past week and change was the Los Angeles Lakers' Nick Young

It seems general manager Mitch Kupchak and the front office have backed off, though, which is a great decision.

It's not hard to figure out why the Lakers have considered trading Young. He's 30 years old and a $5.2 million cap hit this season, and that number escalates over the next two years, per Spotrac. The USC product is also eccentric on and off the court and has clashed with both coach Byron Scott and Kobe Bryant at times.

To make matters worse, Young is a volume-based shooter who needed to attempt 11.3 shots per game last season just to reach an average of 13.4 points.

Still, the Lakers have backed off, per Bill Oram of the Orange County Register:

This doesn't mean the Lakers won't move Young for the right price, but how can they get that price when everyone knows he's being offered by a cap-strapped team?

Some will say the team's addition of Lou Williams signed Young's papers out of town. It's a fair thought, as the 28-year-old veteran is one of the best sixth men in the league and averaged 15.5 points with the Toronto Raptors last season.

Call it a wash, or perhaps a redundancy, though—Williams averaged 11.6 shots for 15.5 points on average.

Similar players? Sure, but the way Scott makes it sound, this is the objective.

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

“What I like about the roster is there is competition at every position,” Scott said, per Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. “Guys have to come every day and work and earn those minutes.”

In any sport, competition breeds the best possible lineup. If the Lakers want to bite the bullet on Young's contract and hope for a solid season, then so be it. It's not like the Lakers need the cap space, with Roy Hibbert and the other offseason transactions already on board. It's not like the Lakers can never try to move Young again to free up the space, either. 

It sounds like Young will receive every chance to fight for a serious spot in the rotation, too.

“He has to convince our coaching staff he can play within the system,” Kupchak said, per Medina. “That doesn’t only mean score the ball. That means defending and doing the little things, which I know he can do.”

Young has always been a volume shooter, but if he can make better decisions off the bench, the decision to keep him around will prove a win for the Lakers. To his credit, Young sounds like he is hard at work to improve in the right areas, as Medina explains with a quote from the man himself:

“I’m taking his advice,” Young said of Scott, who has instructed him to improve his decision-making, playing off-the-ball and off-ball defense. “I’m just working to get better. I’m getting my jump shots tighter and ball-handling tighter. I’ve been running off of cones on the floor for a while now.”

Right now, there's no point in trading Young.

Not only does the rest of the league realize that the Lakers wanted a move despite having no leverage, interest in Young's services just don't seem so high. His struggles on the court are no secret, and neither is his contract or the fact he has struggled with injuries over the past few seasons.

The Lakers added Williams, sure, but there's no such thing as too much depth these days (ask Cleveland). Williams and Young don't have to be on the court at the same time and the competition might bring out the best in both of them.

Los Angeles can always move Young at a later date. For now, though, keeping him around to see if he can grow as a player when faced with a challenge is worth the investment.

In a league shifting toward shooting and depth, Young will be a good player to have on the bench next season.

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified. 

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