During a film session on Tuesday following a disappointing loss to New York, Hawks big man John Collins expressed some displeasure with the way the team’s offense has been operating and the way Trae Young has been running it, according to Chris Kirschner and Sam Amick of The Athletic.
Sources tell The Athletic that Collins talked about wanting to get into offensive sets faster and reduce early shot-clock attempts. He also said he wants to be more involved in the offense and would like to see more ball movement and flow.
Although there was no direct back-and-forth between Collins and Young, Collins’ criticism “caught the attention of the room,” per Kirschner and Amick, who report that Young later made it clear to others that he strongly disagreed with his teammate’s take.
“Trae is my brother regardless,” Collins said via text message when The Athletic asked him about the situation.
Some Hawks have agreed with Collins’ stance and believe that when he – and the team’s other offensive weapons – are featured more, the results are better, according to Kirschner and Amick.
However, The Athletic’s duo says there’s a belief that Collins’ frustration stems not only from a desire to maximize the Hawks’ talent, but from his contract situation. According to Kirschner and Amick, the 23-year-old – who believes he’s a maximum-salary caliber player – passed last month on a contract extension offer worth over $90MM. He’s hoping to prove this season ahead of restricted free agency that he’s worth the max, and may need the ball in his hands more to do so.
Here’s more on the Hawks from Kirschner and Amick:
- Clint Capela had a private discussion with Young following Tuesday’s film session and pointed to his time alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston as a cautionary tale. Howard’s desire for more touches and Harden’s reluctance to give up the ball contributed to the dissolution of that union.
- One Hawks player told The Athletic that he believes Young’s uninspiring performance on Wednesday stemmed from Tuesday’s film session. Head coach Lloyd Pierce called Young’s Wednesday performance (seven points on 2-of-9 shooting, with seven turnovers) “uncharacteristic,” while Kirschner and Amick suggest the star guard appeared “disinterested.”
- Some Hawks players last season indicated that Young has room to improve as a vocal leader, and Pierce has encouraged growth in that area, per Kirschner and Amick. However, the “basketball relationship” between the coach and his star guard is still worth monitoring. A report last May suggested Young and Pierce haven’t always been on the same page, and multiple sources tell The Athletic that disconnect remains an issue.
- Pierce, whose in-game decisions have been questioned at times by players since he was hired in 2018, is in a contract year, as his team option for 2021/22 hasn’t yet been picked up. However, a source with knowledge of the situation tells The Athletic that Pierce’s job isn’t in any immediate danger.