Tensions have risen between Hawks star guard Trae Young and coach Nate McMillan, highlighted by a disagreement on Friday that led to Young choosing not to play against Denver on Friday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick report.
According to Charania and Amick, Young and McMillan had a verbal exchange during the Hawks’ shootaround prior to the game. As Young received treatment on his right shoulder, McMillan asked him whether he would participate in the shootaround, then receive treatment during the walk-through and play against the Nuggets. Young told McMillan he wanted to miss the shootaround to focus on his treatment and decide later on whether he could play.
McMillan was unhappy Young didn’t participate in the shootaround and told Young he could either play off the bench that night or not show up to the arena. Young chose the latter, with the team officially ruling his absence due to right shoulder soreness.
The team didn’t take any disciplinary action against its franchise player. Young practiced fully on Sunday and will play on Monday against the Thunder.
McMillan on Sunday told reporters that it was a simple miscommunication between him and Young.
However, this has hardly been the only issue regarding McMillan and his players this season, according to The Athletic duo. The Hawks have held multiple team meetings already to resolve various conflicts.
For now, McMillan’s job appears safe. He signed a four-year contract to become the franchise’s full-time head coach after leading the Hawks to the conference finals as an interim coach in 2021. Both Young and McMillan are cognizant of the fact they’ll need to improve their relationship in order for the franchise to become a serious contender again.
In the meantime, Young’s leadership is under scrutiny since he also played a role in Lloyd Pierce’s dismissal, which led to McMillan replacing him. Young is in the first year of a five-year max extension.
The Hawks are looking to make a significant trade to improve their prospects of making a run. They’ve been shopping forward John Collins, who is currently sidelined with an ankle sprain. The Nets are among the teams who have expressed interest.