Thaddeus Young is having a career year, having revived a dormant three-point stroke that’s helping him average a career high 17.8 points a game. He’s also at or near high watermarks in rebounding, assists, steals and blocks. Any team in the NBA would love to have the 25-year-old, as an NBA executive recently told Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News. Still, Young needn’t have his bags packed. A unnamed GM who spoke to ESPN’s Chris Broussard at the start of the season pointed to Young’s contract as an impediment to a swap, saying he didn’t know any team that would relinquish anything of value to trade for him.
The deal runs through 2015/16 with average salaries of $8.6MM. The escalating raises in the deal mean he’ll make more than $9.4MM in 2014/15 and more than $9.9MM in the final season of the pact. Young’s strong performance might have changed a few minds around the league, but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be easy for GM Sam Hinkie to find a deal that works for the Sixers.
Young’s “soft” trade request last month probably exacerbates that challenge, as do his comments indicating a lack of enthusiasm for playing with inexperienced teammates. Rival executives who sense that Young is putting pressure on the Sixers to deal him probably feel as though their offers for the power forward needn’t be too strong. Hinkie said late this summer that he didn’t find it necessary to deal away Young or any of his other veterans, but a more recent report indicated the Sixers were heavily shopping Young. Even as the former 12th overall pick laughs off the assertion that he’s disgruntled with the Sixers, Young’s attitude could worsen if he remains a part of a long-term rebuilding effort.
The Rockets were linked to Young when they were aggressively shopping Omer Asik last month, and such a one-for-one swap would make some degree of sense from Houston’s perspective. Young, as long as his 39.3% three-point accuracy holds up, could serve as the sort of stretch power forward who fits the Rockets system. But while Young’s cap figure is only slightly higher than Asik’s, Young’s deal lasts a season longer, and that could tie up money Houston may have earmarked for Chandler Parsons once his bargain contract lapses after 2014/15. Plus, the emergence of Terrence Jones of late might dissuade the Rockets from trading for another power forward.
The Bobcats are giving the indication they’ll be buyers at the trade deadline, so perhaps they’ll get into talks for Young. Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors speculated that Philadelphia could be a potential destination for Ben Gordon, and the Sixers, with the most cap space in the league, can accommodate Gordon’s bloated $13.2MM contract in a one-for-one swap for Young. That would amount to salary dump come summer for Philadelphia, and it’s not as if the Sixers don’t have plenty of flexibility already. So, I’d imagine the Bobcats would have to include an attractive draft pick or another intriguing asset for the Sixers to bite.
Maybe the Pistons could get involved if they’re skittish about the offers Greg Monroe might receive in restricted free agency this summer. Detroit would have to give Philadelphia more to meet salary-matching requirements, so talks could bog down over the sort of additional assets the Pistons would relinquish. Young probably represents a cheaper long-term option that re-signing Monroe would entail, so Detroit is one team that might not mind Young’s contract. I’d imagine that would prompt the Sixers to demand a worthwhile extra asset in the trade. Of course, the entire notion is just my speculation.
We’ll probably hear of at least a few teams jumping into discussions for Young in the next few weeks as the February 20th trade deadline approaches. Of course, there’s no real urgency for Hinkie to make a move by that date, as a trade would be just as workable over the summer, from Philly’s perspective. Earlier this season, Young professed a love for Philadelphia, so if he begins to see past his frustration with the club’s rebuilding process, there might not be reason for the Sixers to trade him at all. Still, Young’s contract seems like the sort of deal the team will want to unload sooner or later, and with his play at unprecedented levels, the time might be right for Hinkie to sell high.