Two years ago when Trae Young led the Atlanta Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals, many thought that would mark the beginning of the team’s run atop the NBA.
Unfortunately, both Young and the Hawks have struggled since then.
Young remains one of the more talented playmakers and scorers in the league, but his shooting inefficiency has hampered Atlanta all season long.
The Hawks, meanwhile, have struggled to find their footing since that Eastern Conference run. This season they are 18-21 and find themselves 10th in the standings. Only two games separate them from the 12th place Toronto Raptors, so there is plenty of room still left to fall.
In recent weeks chatter has started about Young possibly being on the market. Although one team has been most closely linked to him, odds makers actually have four frontrunners for his services: the Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers.
Each of those teams has a strong case for going after Young.
The Mavericks desperately need a second option next to Luka Doncic. There was hope this past offseason that Christian Wood would fit the bill, but clearly head coach Jason Kidd hates him for some reason. Young could slide in comfortably in the backcourt next to Doncic.
If not Dallas, the Heat are also a strong option. They could deal someone like Tyler Herro, who they dangled in the past for stars like James Harden, as well as Duncan Robinson and other spare parts. Young would obviously pump some fresh life into a Miami offense that has been very stagnant this year.
Boston is firing on all cylinders right now, but adding Young alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown would turn them into a legitimate super team. The only question is whether Atlanta would demand someone like Brown in return, or if they could make a deal work without him being included.
Finally, the Lakers desperately need a reboot right now. Anthony Davis is hurt, again, and could be out as long as 8 months. LeBron James is 38 years old.
Young could offer all parties involved the opportunity to win now, while also providing a natural path for the post-James Lakers where presumably he and Davis could team up to contend in the West.
Young has a history of clashing with his Hawks teammates and the front office, only to then figure out a way to make it work. But something about this time around feels different.
Russ sent Lakers fans a clear message with his hat. https://t.co/qt7lLxwOBx
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 6, 2023
There is a very good chance that Young will ultimately be playing in a different uniform come this time next year.
Which uniform will it be, though? Time will tell.