After a couple of early playoff exits, is it time for the Atlanta Hawks to trade the All-Star point guard this offseason? Boardroom explores that question.
Trae Young is really good at basketball. Nobody disputes that. But whether he can ever be the leading player on a title contender should very much come into question.
We witnessed the highs and lows that come with the 24-year-old two-time All-Star in the Atlanta Hawks‘ six-game series loss to the Boston Celtics in the first round. We saw the ice-cold assassin in Tuesday’s Game 5 when Young drained a 29-foot pull-up with 2.8 seconds left to keep Atlanta alive behind a 38-point bravura performance. We also saw “volume shooter” Trae, missing 19 of his 28 shots and scoring just five of his 30 points in the second half of Thursday’s Game 6 defeat that sent the Hawks packing.
As we mentioned in our preview of the Play-in Tournament, the backcourt combo of Young and the freshly acquired Dejounte Murray outscored opponents by just 26 total points in 1,607 minutes across 67 games this season. Against Boston, Atlanta was outscored by 42 total points over 136 minutes when Young and Murray were on the floor together, per NBA.com, the second-worst combo on the team. For those counting at home, the Hawks — in total — lost the Trae-Dejounte minutes this season, which is nuts.
So the Atlanta front office has to ask itself the following: Are the Hawks better off long-term without Trae Young? Should he get traded this offseason?
Considering it’s brought up nearly every time the two play each other, you likely know already that the Hawks could’ve taken Luka Doncic with the No. 3 pick in the 2018 draft but decided to trade his rights away to Dallas for a package featuring Young. Travis Schlenk, who stepped down as general manager in December, thought could be the next Steph Curry when he swung the trade as Atlanta’s lead decision-maker. He later drafted Kevin Huerter to be Young’s version of Klay Thompson.
Now Schlenk is out, replaced by Landry Fields. Head coach Nate McMillan is out, replaced by Quin Snider. Huerter was dealt to Sacramento last offseason.
Atlanta acquired Murray from San Antonio last June for three first-round picks and a pick swap. He’s not going anywhere and needs a contract extension with one year and $17.7 million remaining on his deal. But if the Hawks aren’t going to get better with this backcourt leading the charge, shouldn’t a Trae deal at least be explored?
Young has three guaranteed years and $126 million left on his contract with a $49 million player option for 2026-27. Atlanta is largely a team whose key players are locked in for a while. DeAndre Hunter’s four-year, $90 million extension kicks in next season. Clint Capela has two years left. Constant trade rumor fodder John Collins has two years and a player option remaining. Bogdan Bogdanovic has three years left on a team-friendly deal, while Onyeka Okongwu and Saddiq Bey will soon be looking for rookie extensions.
Only five other teams have more money on their 2024-25 books than Atlanta. Ditto for 2025-26. To truly make significant, meaningful change to a team whose conference final run two years ago seems like ancient history will take a trade or two. Should the Hawks really make things interesting and deal Young?
One thing is for sure: You can’t spell trade without Trae.
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