A combination of promising young talent and lucrative cap space could persuade top-level players to consider the Hawks this summer in free agency, as star guard Trae Young explained in an interview with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype this week.
“Oh, I definitely think this is going to be a big spot that free agents look at,” Young said. “I mean, we’re a very young team, but we’ve been playing really well lately and this is an exciting team and an exciting city. I think we’re maybe one or two pieces away from really making that jump and taking off. I definitely think this is an attractive city [and situation]. And I’m not a tampering guy or anything like that, but I think I’m a good recruiter – for sure.”
Sam Amick of The Athletic reported two weeks ago that the Hawks plan to be aggressive in pursuing free agent meetings this offseason. Atlanta sports a talented young core of Young, John Collins and Kevin Huerter, with the team expected to have roughly $41MM of cap space to work with in July.
In addition to its young core, the club is armed with a new head coach in Lloyd Pierce, an upgraded arena and revamped practice facilities. Among the free agents set to be available: Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Khris Middleton and DeMarcus Cousins.
As for Young, he’s improved rapidly since his first month in the NBA, cementing himself as one of the top young players in the league at just 20 years of age. He held per-game averages of 23.3 points, 9.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds during the month of February.
“I think the game is starting to really slow down for me,” Young told Kennedy. “Now, I’ve kind of seen a little bit of everything in terms of what teams are throwing at me and how defenses are trying to guard me. Also, I’ve seen most teams multiple times; in some cases, it’s my second or third time playing against a certain team.
“I know more about who I’m playing against too. I feel like I’m getting more used to the NBA game, the style, as well. I think I’m starting to feel more comfortable. I’m much more comfortable than I was during that first month, when I was shooting 19 percent from three. That was just… terrible.”