Report: Trae Young could request trade if Hawks struggle in postseason
Rival executives in attendance at the NBA’s annual G League Winter Showcase are of the belief that Atlanta Hawks star point guard Trae Young could be the next player on a rookie max extension to request a trade if the team doesn’t make inroads come postseason time...
Atlanta has struggled to find the chemistry that propelled it to the Eastern Conference Finals two years ago. Last season, the Hawks won just one playoff game, losing in five games to the Miami Heat. This season, they are on a similar trajectory with an underwhelming 16-16 record, ninth in the Eastern Conference. All that despite the offseason addition of star guard Dejounte Murray, a player Young encouraged management to pursue.
Here are a few thoughts:
• This is part of what league executives do when they get together, they speculate. It’s informed speculation, but still speculation, so take it with a grain of salt.
• Young asking out is not something for this season’s trade deadline; what happens to the Hawks in the playoffs will determine everyone’s next course of action. However, as Haynes notes, these Hawks look like a play-in team that would get bounced in the first round at best, which would leave a bitter taste considering how much the Hawks gave up last summer to get Dejounte Murray. The Hawks entered this season believing internally they were in the upper echelons of the East.
• New head man in basketball operations Landry Fields is going to get a chance to reshape the Hawks roster, and that very likely starts with trading John Collins at the February deadline. Fields could build the team into something that is a better fit with Young (and makes him happier).
• Young is in the first year of a five-year, $215 million max contract extension. He is locked in for three more years (making more than $40 million each season) but has an early termination option that can make him a free agent in 2026.
• Young is an unquestionable offensive force averaging 27.6 points and 9.8 assists a game this season (and it is considered a down year for him). However, front office people from other teams NBC Sports has spoken to over the years have questioned how good a team could be with Young at its center because of his poor defense and how much he wants to control the ball and flow of play. The Hawks brought in another quality playmaker in Murray and Young is not working well off the ball (or, at least doing consistently) making them easy to defend. It’s also safe to say Young is not exactly the most popular teammate around the league.
• If it comes down to Young wanting out, there would be unquestioned demand for him around the league, 24-year-old All-NBA players rarely become available for trade. That said, it might not be as strong a demand as Young and the Hawks would hope, a lot of teams are happy with their point guard situations and chemistry. It would be interesting to see which franchises would be willing to go all-in for him, because the Hawks would start by asking for a Harden-sized haul.