Trae Young

Trae Young Confident Free Agents Will Consider Atlanta

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.”

Hawks Notes: Young, Future, Pierce

No matter how well Trae Young performs in his career, he will always be compared to Luka Doncic after the Hawks dealt the Slovenian wing to the Mavs in exchange for Young and a future first-rounder. Young embraces the comparisons, as he tells Marc Stein of The New York Times in the scribe’s latest newsletter.

“I know it’s a part of my life now,” Young said. “I tell everybody that hopefully we’re both 15-plus years down the line and we’re still playing and it’s a competition that’s been going since draft night…I think it’s going to go on forever, so might as well just accept it and take it on as a challenge.”

The Hawks are excited about the 20-year-old point guard in part because of his wise perspective at such a young age, Stein writes. Of course, Atlanta is also thrilled with Young’s game on the court. The University of Oklahoma product got off to a slow start to the season, but said the game “is really starting to slow down” for him. Young has averaged 21.5 points and 8.3 assists while making 39.2% of his looks from downtown since the start of the 2019 calendar year.

Here’s more from Atlanta:

  • The Hawks have the right pieces in place as they close out year-one of their rebuild, Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution contends.  In addition to their young core, which includes Young, John Collins, and Kevin Huerter, Atlanta will likely receive the Mavs’ 2019 first-rounder, which is top-5 protected. Dallas currently has the eighth-worst record, as our Reverse Standings show.
  • Young said Kevin Durant reached out to him, lending the rookie advice on how to deal with criticism, as Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports passes along. “[Durant] said remain [yourself], keep going, things are gonna turn and go the right way for you,” Young said. “Just to keep my head straight. I’ve known KD a long time, and he’s given me a lot of advice growing up.”
  • Young has the green light to shoot from anywhere on the court, though coach Lloyd Pierce emphasizes that the point guard isn’t the only player without restrictions, as Goodwill relays in the same piece. “The freedom is for everybody. There’s no restrictions on who’s taking the shots or who’s making the plays. It starts with Trae,” Pierce said. “There’s a time and place, what’s a good or bad shot, a quick shot. I probably yell at guys more for passing up shots than for taking shots. Brian Shaw said something years ago at a camp, ‘Don’t pass up good [expletive] for bulls–t.’ So I don’t care if it’s further back. If it’s an open shot and you’re in rhythm, take it.”

Schlenk: Hawks Would Have Drafted Luka At No. 3

The Hawks participated in the biggest draft-day trade of 2018, agreeing to move down two spots from No. 3 to No. 5 in a deal with the Mavericks. The trade will have a significant impact on both franchises going forward, with third overall pick Luka Doncic looking like a franchise player in Dallas while No. 5 pick Trae Young appears to be a foundational piece in Atlanta.

In an appearance on Adrian Wojnarowski’s Woj Pod, Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk revisited that blockbuster deal, explaining the thinking behind the move (hat tip to RealGM). According to Schlenk, Atlanta had been preparing to select Doncic at No. 3 – even tentatively letting agent Bill Duffy know when Doncic’s introductory press conference would take place – before the Mavs improved their trade offer on draft day.

“Not a lot of people know this,” Schlenk said. “If we would have stayed at three, we would have taken Luka. We had worked with his agent, he did a physical for us that morning in New York. … But then Dallas came in an hour or so before the draft. I told them all along that it would take another lottery pick for us to slide back, and that’s when the conversations got started.”

The price to move up two spots in 2018 was the Mavericks’ top-five protected 2019 first-rounder. While that pick wasn’t necessarily assured of becoming a lottery pick – and still isn’t – Schlenk told Wojnarowski that the work done by the Hawks’ analytics staff made him and the front office feel good about that selection.

“For us, what made (the trade) make sense is our analytics staff was projecting Dallas to finish eighth (in the reverse standings) this year,” Schlenk said.

As the Hawks’ GM observes, that projection looks pretty accurate so far — Dallas currently has the NBA’s ninth-worst record. Still, with draft experts somewhat bearish on the 2019 class as a whole, the Mavs will likely be fine with handing over a top-10 pick. Surrendering that selection gave them the opportunity to secure their first bona fide star since Dirk Nowitzki‘s decline began.

Southeast Notes: Huerter, Beal, Prince, Isaac

The Hawks are in the early stages of a rebuild. Having brought in a new coaching staff and with a new focus on player development, it has been very encouraging for the team to see Kevin Huerter break out in recent weeks. After slowly adjusting to the NBA, Huerter has received more playing time as of late and has been productive in his role. Chris Kirschner of The Athletic details Huerter’s recent stretch of play and what it means for the Hawks’ future.

For the season, Huerter is averaging 8.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while knocking down 38% of his 3-pointers. However, in January the 20-year-old guard is averaging 15 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game while playing 38 minutes per contest.

As Huerter continues to develop alongside Trae Young and John Collins, it’s clear that the Hawks have quality young talent to grow and develop for years to come.

There’s more from the Southeast division:

Bulls Notes: Record Loss, Hoiberg, Dunn, Arcidiacono

New Bulls coach Jim Boylen didn’t hold back his criticism after Saturday’s 56-point loss to the Celtics, the worst defeat in franchise history, relays Malika Andrews of ESPN.

“I think your play is embarrassing,” said Boylen, who pulled his five starters for the night three minutes into the third quarter. “… I worked for [Spurs head coach] Gregg Popovich. He subbed five guys a ton of times. Nobody says a word to him about it. He felt that was best for the team. I felt that was best for the team where we were at. I wanted to give the other guys a chance to see if they could right the ship a little bit. If I don’t like the five guys out there, if I don’t like the combination, I’m going to look at a new combination. Take them all out, let them sit there and think about it.”

There was plenty to think about, and none of it was good. Chicago fell behind 17-0 and went more than six minutes of the first quarter without scoring. The deficit was 32 points when Boylen decided to pull Ryan Arcidiacono, Zach LaVine, Justin Holiday, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter, who combined for 27 points on the night, the lowest total for a Bulls starting lineup in 11 years. Fans booed loudly throughout the game as the team fell to 6-21.

“We don’t have that internal toughness yet to play at this level consistently,” Boylen said afterward.

There’s more this morning from Chicago:

  • Bulls management claims that former coach Fred Hoiberg was dismissed because he lost his influence with his players, but the real reason was a deteriorating relationship with GM Gar Forman, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Bobby Portis was the latest player to come to Hoiberg’s defense Saturday. “He’s a players’ coach, lets guys go out there and do what they do, get better,” Portis said. “Me, personally, he helped me develop my game a lot, so I credit a lot of things toward him. To say that he lost the respect of the locker room, I don’t think that’s a good way to put it.’’
  • Portis and Kris Dunn are both close to returning from knee injuries, although neither played Saturday. Dunn’s return will mark a critical time in his career, as he becomes eligible for a rookie contract extension at the end of the season, Cowley notes in a separate story. Dunn has been effective since coming to Chicago last year, but it’s not clear if the front office is fully invested in him as the point guard of the future. Cowley states that the team had a private workout with Trae Young before the draft and considered taking Collin Sexton with the seventh pick before opting for Carter.
  • Arcidiacono’s high-energy game has made him an effective fill-in during Dunn’s absence, writes Sam Smith of NBA.com.

Southeast Notes: Young, Johnson, Wizards, Lamb

Hawks guard Trae Young firmly believes he’ll be a better player than fellow rookie Luka Doncic, explaining his reasoning to Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated this week. The two players have been compared for months after the Hawks and Mavericks agreed to a draft-night trade in June.

“The thing with Luka,” Young says, “he’s a great player. I don’t understand why it can’t work out for both situations. I hear [Atlanta made a mistake] all the time. Luka’s a great dude, and I think he’s going to be a really good player. But at the same time, I’m going to be a better player. Just because of my ability to stretch the floor, get others involved, I think I’ll be better.”

The Hawks traded their No. 3 pick — used on Doncic — to Dallas in exchange for the No. 5 selection and a first-round pick in the 2019 Draft. Atlanta then made the decision to draft Young fifth overall and solidify him as the franchise centerpiece.

Young has averaged 17.5 points and 8.2 assists in 14 games this season, shooting 41% from the floor and 27% from downtown. To compare, Doncic has averaged 19.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest, connecting on 47% from the field and 39% from 3-point territory.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Heat guard Tyler Johnson labeled the importance of the team staying hungry for success, despite several players cashing in on new contracts in recent seasons. “I think what’s crazy is before any of us got any money, we were just some dogs,” Johnson said, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. “I think that’s what the beautiful thing is. We had to just come together.”
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports details how Wizards coach Scott Brooks has consistently altered his rotation this season, keeping his players on edge. Brooks’ changes are in response to the team’s poor start to the 2018/19 season.
  • Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb will likely receive interest from multiple teams in free agency, putting his potential return after the season in question, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. Lamb is averaging 12.9 points in 14 games, tied for his career-best.

 

Eastern Notes: Knicks, Nurse, Harris, Young

As the Knicks prepare to host the Warriors on Friday night, a banner of Kevin Durant in a Knicks jersey rests outside of Madison Square Garden. Although its creator is unknown, the large, rectangular message reads: “Can you make NY Sports great again?”

Durant, who’s set to become a free agent in July, is expected to receive interest from several teams with maximum-salary space across the league. The Knicks could be one of these teams, with Durant likely to be at the top of their free-agent list.

“I don’t really know how to feel about that type of stuff,” Durant said, according to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “It’s cool. No disrespect, but I’m not really impressed with that type of stuff.”

Next to Durant on the banner is budding superstar Kristaps Porzingis, a selling piece for the Knicks to help attract free agents in the summer of 2019. In addition to Durant, the team could target the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler or Kyrie Irving.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Nick Nurse could be the key to the Raptors‘ reset, Jake Fischer details in a piece for SI’s The Crossover. Nurse was hired as Raptors head coach this past offseason and has guided the team to a 5-0 record, quickly earning the respect of players, assistants and fans.
  • Nets guard Joe Harris has started the 2018/19 season on a good note, shooting the ball well and proving his worth after signing a new deal with the team this summer, as detailed in a piece by Nets Daily. Harris signed a two-year, $16MM contract to rejoin the club in the offseason, scoring 16 points and grabbing six rebounds on Wednesday against Cleveland.
  • Despite being heavily criticized for trading the rights to Luka Doncic for Trae Young on draft night, the Hawks may have secured a long-term building block in Young, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor writes. Young is making a good early impression, averaging 21.5 points and 7.5 assists through four games.

Southeast Notes: Lin, Young, Gordon, T. Brown

While opening night is thrilling for everyone, that’s especially true for new Hawks guard Jeremy Lin, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Lin is coming off two frustrating years in Brooklyn, where injuries limited to a total of 37 games. He suffered a torn right patellar tendon in the first game of last season and hasn’t played since.

“I think I’m just going to be really excited, really grateful,” Lin said before tonight’s game. “I’m going to be like, ‘Dang, in a lot of ways I made it. I made it back.’ The rehab process — not just the knee, the hamstring and all the other stuff — those were tough, to watch all those games. For me, to just get back on the court, I’m going to be super happy.”

Lin remains disappointed that he couldn’t contribute more to the Nets after signing a three-year, $36MM contract in 2016. His focus now is on putting together a healthy season in Atlanta and rebuilding his value for another shot at free agency next summer.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hawks‘ decision to trade down and draft Trae Young was the result of a compromise between the team’s ownership group and the front office, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. The owners wanted to keep the No. 3 pick and take Luka Doncic, while the front office preferred Jaren Jackson Jr., who wound up in Memphis with the fourth selection. The parties elected to swap picks with Dallas and take Young, whom everyone in the organization agreed on.
  • The Magic showed their faith in Aaron Gordon with a new four-year, $76MM contract this summer, and president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman tells Josh Robbins of The Athletic that Gordon’s intangibles factored into the decision. Gordon is coming off a breakthrough season in which he raised his stats to 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. “Organizationally, we wouldn’t have done what we did if we didn’t have the utmost confidence that he’s going to be able to not just become a good player in his own right, but a player that lifts others,” Weltman said.
  • Wizards rookie Troy Brown can expect to spend at least part of the season in the G League, tweets Doug McKinney of NBC Sports. The additions of Jeff Green and Austin Rivers over the summer will limit Brown’s opportunities for playing time at the NBA level.

Fellow Rookies Pick Ayton, Sexton As RoY Favorites

For the 10th time in 12 years, John Schuhmann of NBA.com got the opportunity to ask the NBA’s incoming crop of rookies a series of questions related to their fellow draftees.

Historically, the NBA rookies haven’t been particularly clairvoyant when it comes to their predictions — they haven’t accurately identified a Rookie of the Year winner since Kevin Durant in 2007/08. Still, it’s an interesting exercise, and one that occasionally results in a dead-on prediction, like when last year’s rookie class named Donovan Mitchell the steal of the 2017 draft.

Here are a few of the most interesting responses from this year’s rookies about the 2018/19 class:

  • Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Collin Sexton (Cavaliers) are viewed as the co-favorites for the Rookie of the Year award this season, with each player earning 18% of the vote. No other rookie had more than a 9% share of the vote.
  • Opinions were a little more divided on which player would have the best long-term NBA career, with Wendell Carter Jr. (Bulls) narrowly earning that title by receiving 13% of the vote. Interestingly, reigning EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic (Mavericks) wasn’t picked by a single player for this question.
  • No. 48 overall pick Keita Bates-Diop (Timberwolves) was named the steal of the 2018 NBA draft by his fellow rookies, edging out 14th overall pick Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets) and 18th overall pick Lonnie Walker (Spurs).
  • Trae Young (Hawks) is widely considered the best shooter and play-maker in this year’s class. Jevon Carter (Grizzlies) earned the most votes for best rookie defender, while Zhaire Smith (Sixers) is viewed as the most athletic rookie.
  • Be sure to check out Schuhmann’s full piece for the rest of the rookie survey results.

Southeast Notes: Anderson, Young, Go-Go, Magic Big Men

The Heat aren’t particularly interested in acquiring Rockets forward Ryan Anderson, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. A rumored trade that would involve the Houston power forward and a draft pick in exchange for either Tyler Johnson or James Johnson doesn’t appeal to Miami’s front office, Jackson continues. Anderson has a higher salary than both of those players, so bringing him in would worsen the team’s luxury-tax issues. Additionally, even though James Johnson has three years left on his deal compared to Anderson’s two remaining seasons, Miami values his versatility, Jackson adds.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Rookie Trae Young realizes the commitment the Hawks made to him by trading starting point guard Dennis Schroder to the Thunder, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. While Young was non-committal about whether he or Jeremy Lin should start, Young knows he’ll get ample playing time. “Obviously when they move the point guard they’ve had for a while, their starting point guard, it definitely opened my eyes,” Young told Vivlamore. “It shows how much they are committed to me. Bringing Jeremy in as well is a good fit for us. I know there is a lot on my plate.”
  • The Wizards’ new G League team, the Capital City Go-Go, will share the same practice facility as the NBA team. The G League team’s GM, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, sees that as an incentive for his players, as he explained to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington“I think it’s going to help motivate these guys. We’re going to be practicing in the same place that the Wizards do and the Mystics do,” Mensah-Bonsu said. “I think if these guys can see Dwight Howard and John Wall and Bradley Beal walking around every day, it will help motivate them to get to that next level.”
  • The Magic are bucking the league trend by building around big men, as Nick Zappulla of RealGM details. The trio of rookie Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon provide versatility and game-changing ability on both ends of the floor, Zappulla adds.