The Atlanta Hawks-Trae Young situation has been fascinating to watch and has quietly emerged as an intriguing NBA soap opera this season. For those unfamiliar, Young and his coach, Nate McMillan, had a disagreement that stemmed from McMillan wanting him to participate in practice.
Young declined, instead wanting to focus on rehabbing his shoulder. The two got into an argument, and Young was told that he was to play that night, but come off the bench, or not show up to the arena at all. Young didn’t show up.
Here’s the thing: It seems that most of the players and members of the organization sided with McMillan instead of Young. That’s a surprising position considering its usually players vs. coaches, and that underscores just how unpopular he seems to be within the Hawks. In fact, it’s seemingly Trae vs. everybody.
That’s not a great situation, especially with the Hawks underperforming even after going all-in to acquire Dejounte Murray this past off-season. In fact, according to Chris Haynes, Young could become fed up with the situation and request a trade.
Moreover, there are already betting odds for the 11 teams that could land him.
Are these teams really the front runners for Trae Young?
While these are only betting odds, they do provide a good idea of where he could end up should he ask for a trade. Interestingly enough, there are at least five small-market teams that appear to be in the mix. That’s likely a result of him having four years remaining on his contract, thus limiting his ability to steer his way to the team of his choice, much like with Kevin Durant this past summer.
Teams such as the Spurs and Pelicans aren’t likely to appear on his list of teams, but they have plenty of assets, the Spurs, in particular, making them ideal trade partners for the Hawks. On the other hand, teams like the Celtics and Clippers seem like unlikely trade partners. After all, the Celtics likely aren’t trading Jaylen Brown, the Clippers probably wouldn’t trade Kawhi Leonard or Paul George and the Hawks probably wouldn’t want either since they are in their 30s.
Meanwhile, the usual suspects, such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, appear as possible destinations for a star who could be looking for a change of scenery. However, the most surprising team on this list may be the Dallas Mavericks. The Hawks initially drafted Luka Doncic, who is a top-five player in the NBA, ahead of Young in the 2018 NBA Draft. They then traded Doncic on draft night to the Mavericks for Young, who is merely a top-25 player.
To be clear, getting a top-25 player is still fantastic, but passing up a likely all-time great player for a player whose ceiling is a multi-time all-star is a significant step down. Were the Mavericks able to scrape together enough assets to land Young, then that would obviously benefit the Hawks, but it would also reignite questions about why they chose Young over Doncic in the first place.
The Atlanta Hawks franchise hangs in the balance.
Atlanta has had some success with Young but would’ve had more with Doncic. Despite that, the team appeared to be on the right track by acquiring a fellow star in Murray. The aforementioned Murray trade, in which the Hawks gave up three firsts and a pick swap, is beginning to look like a bad move. Even despite Murray’s play.
After all, Atlanta isn’t good, their homegrown star is disgruntled, and the Hawks likely won’t be able to pay their new star the $200 million he’ll likely command in 2024. Even if they move Young before then and have the money to do so, Murray was recruited by Young and would likely still leave. That makes the decision by Atlanta to include two unprotected picks in 2025 and 2027 and swap rights in 2026 look like a horrible decision since they won’t own their own pick for three years during a potential rebuild.
That would be a disaster for Atlanta, and the direction of the franchise appears to be hanging in the balance based on the relationship between Young and his head coach.
The Hawks could always fire McMillan or hope he resigns and hope Young and the next coach have much better chemistry and that Young won’t continue to rub his teammates the wrong way.
Then again, getting rid of McMillan could be seen as Young getting his coach fired. Still, that may be the ultimate outcome given what’s at stake for the Hawks.