Bradley’s Buzz: The Hawks, it says here, aren’t done with Trae Young

Atlanta Hawks' guard Trae Young (11) reacts at the end of the 4th quarter in Game 6 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at State Farm Arena, Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Atlanta. Boston Celtics won 128-120 over Atlanta Hawks. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Atlanta Hawks' guard Trae Young (11) reacts at the end of the 4th quarter in Game 6 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at State Farm Arena, Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Atlanta. Boston Celtics won 128-120 over Atlanta Hawks. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

OPINION / HAWKS

IN YOUR EPAPER

Coverage of Friday night’s Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

The Hawks will trade Trae Young or they won’t. How’s that for clarity?

The NBA finals are ongoing. The draft is close at hand. The best part of the NBA season – July, when ball movement yields to player movement – is within sight. The Hawks could be starting over. They also could not.

For Quin Snyder, hired as coach in February and apparently granted roster-building powers, the summer will be revealing. His predecessor as basketball czar chose to rebuild around a smallish guard. That was in 2018. It’s 2023. Young’s time in Atlanta has yielded one playoff run that brought his team within two games of the 2021 NBA finals.

Much has happened since, little of it rousing. (The exception: Game 5 in Boston six weeks back.) Travis Schlenk was pushed aside. Nate McMillan was relieved of coaching duties, which surely came as a relief since his team resisted coaching. Owner Tony Ressler, seen as the antidote to the ham-handed Atlanta Spirit, hasn’t flashed a golden touch. The Hawks lead the NBA only in play-in tournament victories and rumors.

John Collins has been getting traded since he arrived. Clint Capela is a deft Schlenk acquisition who might have overstayed his welcome. De’Andre Hunter was the draftee who’d balance the Young-for-Luka-Doncic trade, which hasn’t happened and probably won’t. Dejounte Murray was imported from San Antonio to complement Young at a high cost in draft picks. The gifted tandem couldn’t lift the Hawks above .500.

This week, Young scrubbed his Instagram account of Hawks-related imagery. With contemporary athletes, such social media maneuvers aren’t unusual. Sometimes they signify something. Sometimes they don’t. Lamar Jackson’s postings were believed to reflect a disinclination to remain with the Ravens. He re-upped with the Ravens.

It’s possible Young’s Instagram scouring was to draw attention to the unveiling of his third Adidas signature sneaker. Or to lure listeners to Episode 1 of “From the Point,” his podcast. Young suggested he’ll use the forum to break news. Yours truly listened to all 48 minutes. He broke no news.

He said nice things about Snyder. He said nice things about Murray. He spoke of longstanding friendships with De’Aaron Fox and Michael Porter. He reminded us that he, Young, was No. 1 in his recruiting class to Porter’s No. 2. He told us not to underrate the Miami Heat. Then he picked Denver to win in five games.

Young has a house in L.A. He attended two Lakers playoff games. This touched off speculation that he’d like to team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Young is under contract through 2027. There’s no way the Lakers could absorb his salary – he’s owed $40-plus million for the next four seasons – without dealing him for Davis, which would defeat the purpose of super-teaming.

For the record, Young hasn’t said he wants out of Atlanta. He’s sometimes described as a difficult teammate, but you can’t finish second among NBA players in assists and be utterly selfish. The Hawks have fired his first two NBA coaches. Then again, Snyder was himself a point guard, so maybe the new man can reach him. Then again, McMillan was likewise a point guard.

The Hawks’ best chance of winning is to build around Young. Yes, that’s what they’ve been doing. Just because it hasn’t quite worked doesn’t mean it can’t. He’s 24. He didn’t have a great season by his standards, but how many other players averaged 26 points and 10 assists? (Answer: none.)

Young is among the NBA’s biggest talents. It’s not easy building around a smallish guard, but it’s impossible to build around mediocrity. Does Young frustrate me? Yes. Would I give up on him? No. The guess is that Snyder wouldn’t be here if he didn’t believe he can maximize this smallish guard.

The above is part of a regular exercise available to all who register on AJC.com for our free Sports Daily newsletter. The full Buzz, which includes extras like a weekly poll and pithy quotes, arrives via email around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

How do you sign up? Go to the AJC.com home page. Click on “newsletters” at the top right. Click on “Sports Daily.” You’ll need to enter your email address. Thanks, folks.

Atlanta Hawks' guard Trae Young (11) leaves the court after Boston Celtics beat Atlanta Hawks during Game 6 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at State Farm Arena, Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Atlanta. Boston Celtics won 128-120 over Atlanta Hawks. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) kneels near the end of the second half of Game 6 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against Boston Celtics, Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Credit: AP

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Credit: AP

Atlanta Hawks' guard Trae Young (11) reacts at the end of the 4th quarter in Game 6 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs at State Farm Arena, Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Atlanta. Boston Celtics won 128-120 over Atlanta Hawks. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC