Tensions among Atlanta Hawks superstar and head coach point to future personnel changes

Atlanta Hawks Trae Young

Despite boasting a 13-10 record, the Hawks have been supremely disappointing this season. After swinging big this offseason and acquiring Dejounte Murray, Atlanta has struggled with inconsistencies as the new-look roster builds chemistry. Trae Young is off to a slow start; John Collins is having the worst start to a season in his career, and there are more problems than just the players on the court.

It seems Tony Ressler and the ownership group forced Travis Schlenk to trade Kevin Huerter in an apparent salary dump, which comes after an offseason filled with comments about not being afraid of entering the luxury tax.

Ressler said this about going into the tax this offseason, “If the question is are we scared of the tax, are we scared of going into the tax? I’m scared of paying the tax and not being a good team, yes, that I’m scared of, but if we have to go into the tax to be a great team for a period of time, so be it.”

The Hawks front office is equally to blame, though. How could you possibly only net Justin Holiday and a first-round pick for Huerter? That’s pitiful. And now, nearly every trade rumor that surfaces seemingly involves the Hawks selling off pieces like John Collins, Clint Capela, and Bogdan Bogdanovic. To make matters worse, there seems to be a terrible relationship between their team’s star player, Trae Young, and head coach, Nate McMillan.

According to reports from Shams Charania of The Athleticthere was an exchange between the pair that led to Young missing the Hawks game against the Nuggets. Here are the details from Charania:

“While Young was receiving treatment on his right shoulder, sources say McMillan asked him whether he would participate in shootaround, receive treatment during walk-through and play in the game against the Nuggets. But Young made it clear that he wanted to focus solely on his treatment while missing shootaround and deciding later in the day whether he would play.

That approach, however, was not McMillan approved. Since the face of the Hawks’ franchise was deciding not to take part in shootaround, McMillan ultimately presented him with two options for that night’s game, sources said: Play off the bench  —  or do not show up to the arena. Young responded by saying he would not be playing against the Nuggets, and the team ruled him out while citing right shoulder soreness.”

This is a massive problem for the Hawks. And I don’t want to hear about Trae Young getting another coach fired either. Lloyd Pierce has been mentioned as a head coach exactly zero times since being fired for a reason, and Nate McMillan has already been fired from two other positions for a lack of results. The Hawks are currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, so there’s no immediate threat of personnel changes, but if the team continues to slide while Young and McMillan butt heads, you can expect heads to roll. And it won’t be the one that costs $215 million.

Photo: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire

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