It wasn’t long ago that the Atlanta Hawks were on the cusp of an NBA Finals appearance. They turned a 41-win campaign (in a 72-game season) into what many thought would be a launching point as perennial contenders. Now the Hawks’ halftime show announcements are more exciting than what’s happening on the court. Seemingly overnight Atlanta went from the next big thing in the Eastern Conference to let’s blow it up and start over, again.
Atlanta’s dream backcourt of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray hasn’t exactly worked out as planned. The Hawks traded for Murray prior to the start of last season and midway through year two we’re already hearing rumors about the team potentially moving on from him. Pairing Young with Murray hasn’t equaled box office, and both have been on the court for nearly every game this season. Murray hasn’t missed a game and Young has played in all but two.
The Hawks shipped out John Collins over the summer trading him to the Utah Jazz and without him this year Atlanta is seven games under .500 nearly halfway through the season. Rumors of the Hawks and Collins parting ways had lingered for a while before they made the move. Last year ATL hovered around .500 for most of the season and ended it at 41-41. They beat Miami in the play-in before pushing Boston to six games in the first round.
Now Atlanta is struggling to stay afloat and looks like they’re about ready to start over. If they do go ahead and trade Murray, Young’s request shouldn’t be far behind. Young is just 25 years old and already has six years in the association. Why should he waste any more time on an organization that can’t figure it out? He loves the city and fan base, but he’s got to do what’s right for his career. Sitting around scoring a bunch of points and barely making the playoffs for the next three to five years doesn’t sound appealing.
If Young were to hit the market at least a third of the league would be interested and have a realistic chance at acquiring the two-time All-Star and former All-NBA selection. Aside from Murray, you’ve got Bogdan Bogdanović, De’Andre Hunter, Clint Capela, and Jalen Johnson but even with Trae still on the squad, they aren’t making any waves in the East. At the rate the Hawks are going they could be on the outside looking at the play-in tournament. If it comes to that the notion of retooling completely might not be a bad one.