Saturday, June 3 2023

When Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young sat out Friday’s game against the Denver Nuggets, head coach Nate McMillan ascribed his absence to a “miscommunication.” Now, thanks to a report from The Athletic, we have a better idea of what that miscommunication actually was.

According to Shams Charania and Sam Amick, Young skipped shootaround on Friday to focus on getting treatment for his shoulder soreness. He would then decide closer to game time whether or not he would be able to play. This apparently was not approved by McMillan, who gave Young two options: Come off of the bench, or don’t attend the game at all. Young wound up choosing the latter.

However, ahead of Atlanta’s game Monday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, McMillan denied he told Young to not attend the game

“A situation happened that is private. It’s no different than any other day for me and our group, and a story was leaked about that situation,” McMillan said. “Those are things that we don’t normally talk about or address. Things happen with our players on the bus, on the plane, in hotels. We’re together a lot. We’re family. Things are gonna happen during the course of a season. But I addressed my team about that. I’ve talked with Trae about that. We’re moving forward. The one thing that I do want to respond: There was something said about me telling Trae to not show up for a game. I will never ever, and have never, ever told a player not to show up for a game. That’s just false.”

Earlier in the day, Young spoke to reporters and downplayed the incident. 

“It’s hard for people who don’t know the full situation to understand it,” Young said. “Like I said, it’s a private matter made public, which was unfortunate. If it stayed private it probably wouldn’t have been as big of a deal. Like I said it’s unfortunate. My job and my goal is to win a championship, and that’s all I’m focused on.

“When you’re an outside guy like you are and you don’t understand a private matter and private situation, you should probably stay on the outside. It’s unfortunate that everybody has to understand and know a little bit of the details that went on inside. I mean, inside here we’re all good. If you’ve got any more questions about that you can talk to somebody else about it. That’s all I’ve got to say about it.”

The Hawks wound up defeating the Nuggets, 117-110, and are now 13-10 with the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Statistically speaking, though, Young is having a bit of a down year. His shooting percentages are down across the board while his overall counting stats are pretty similar. The Hawks are adjusting to the acquisition of Dejounte Murray as another high-usage guard for their backcourt. Ultimately, they believe Murray can take pressure off of Young offensively while covering his defensive weaknesses on the other end of the floor.

But none of that will matter if Atlanta’s head coach and star point guard aren’t on the same page. McMillan’s job is safe, according to The Athletic, but that won’t be the case forever if he and Young continue to have issues like these. When a coach feuds with a star player, the player almost always wins. But if Young and McMillan can’t figure things out quickly, the biggest loser is going to be the Hawks.



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