Nick Young of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles while chatting with youngsters during the Nick Young Youth Summer Basketball Camp at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, CA July 18, 2014.(Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News)”
The anxiety heightened as soon as the Lakers informed Nick Young and Jordan Hill about some possible unpleasant news.
In separate instances, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti approached Young and Lakers coach Byron Scott alerted Hill that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak wanted to speak with them. Aware that the Thursday’s trade deadline hovered over NBA every team, Young and Hill feared that meant only one thing. The Lakers just traded them.
Turns it out Vitti and Scott just successfully played the old-age hoax to have fun at the players’ insecurity. Despite the trade deadline featuring an NBA record 39 players dealt in various moves, the Lakers stayed put. Though the Lakers (13-40) have plenty of needs entering Friday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets (21-31) at Staples Center, they wanted to retain both their financial flexibility and future draft picks.
That left the Lakers’ players relieved that their job security remains intact for at least two more months.
“I thought J-Hill was gone, too,” Young said. “Fortunately they didn’t break any of us up.”
Hill stood outside the Lakers’ workout room, amused by Young’s shoutout. Soon enough, Young pleaded for Hill to approach reporters so Young could jokingly interview Hill as he has done many times in the locker room.
“How you doing today?” Young asked.
“I’m hanging in there, man,” Hill said with a smile on his face. “Feeling good.”
“They said the deadline is over,” Young said. “Are you a little relieved that you’re here?”
After all, Hill had posted career-numbers in points (12.3), rebounds (8) and minutes played (28). His two-year, $18 million contract also appeared attractive because any trading partner can decline his team option for next season.
“Man, you know, it’s a blessing,” Hill said. “Still here, still holding on by a thread.”
“But you here, though, right?” Young said.
“We still here,” Hill said. “Still going.”
“Kind of like ‘Ted’ at the end when [the teddy bear] got ripped in half?” Young asked.
“Yeah, he was hanging on by a thread,” Hill said.