Trae Young, on his best day, is a very entertaining player to watch. He’s got near-unlimited range and is capable of taking over games when he gets hot. He’s also comfortable in playing the villain, as evidence by how he relished shutting up the Madison Square Garden crowd after the Atlanta Hawks completed the reverse sweep in Game 5 against the New York Knicks losing Game 1.
However, Young is currently making headlines for the wrong reasons. At the moment, rumors are flying about what exactly happened between him and Hawks Head Coach Nate McMillan, because Young chose not to join a game last week after a reported disagreement. That game was against the Denver Nuggets last week.
According to Sports Illustrated, the story is that McMillan didn’t like Young’s decision to skip shoot around to treat an ailing right shoulder, and told him to either come off the bench or to stay away from the team. If this is the real story, then Young chose the latter.
Of course, since we love drama in the reality show that is the modern NBA, the internet has run with it. Some people have stated to call Young a coach killer, especially after former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce already found himself fired after feuding with Young.
Because of that history, it’s not hard to thing that this latest spat with McMillan could potentially cause another firing down the line. Considering that Young is in the first year of a max contract worth $215 million, it’s going to be much easier to get a new coach than get decent assets in return for trading Young. He’s their franchise player and still only 24, and puts fans into the seats. Plus, the Hawks are still currently fourth in a tough Eastern Conference. Young also has plenty of support from fans.
To be fair, McMillan also has a history with players tuning him out. Rumors after his removal in Indiana pointed toward players like Malcolm Brogdon become unhappy with him. In fact, McMillan found himself getting fired only two weeks after getting a contract extension from the Pacers – which is an extremely strange occurence. McMillan has developed a bit of a reputation as a coach that hasn’t changed with the times, which is not good when you have a modern NBA player like Young leading the offense.
Young had a contentious exchange with a reporter before today’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder after being asked about his absence at the Nuggets game, and opined his displeasure that a private conversation between coach and player was leaked to the media. Young was available for the game and started, but the Hawks lost as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander outdueled him.
With how much access people now have to players and rumors due to social media, it’s unrealistic that Young is really surprised that rumblings came out of the Hawks camp. We’re in the same season where the Golden State Warriors tried to downplay the situation between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole before video surfaced of Green trying to sucker punch his teammate with full force.
It could still be simply an isolated incident, but it’s worth watching what happens with the Hawks over the next few months, especially if they start losing.