New York Knicks fans are laser-focused on the team’s first-round matchup against the Cavaliers, but there’s another Eastern Conference series that fans should consider paying attention to. Two of the Knicks’ hated rivals, the Celtics and the Hawks, are going to battle after Atlanta advanced past the play-in tournament to secure the No. 7 seed.
The Hawks underperformed during the regular season and the Celtics should be able to cruise past Trae Young and Dejounte Murray to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. If that’s what ends up happening, a major change could happen in Atlanta.
Earlier this week, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported that the Hawks could consider trading their 24-year-old point guard.
"With the offseason approaching, league sources say the Hawks’ front office has the green light from ownership to do whatever it wants to with the roster, which includes considering trade opportunities involving All-Star point guard Trae Young."
When asked about O’Connor’s report ahead of Atlanta’s play-in game against Miami, Young said (subscription required): “It could be false, could be true, you never know.” He emphasized that he was focused on beating the Heat, which is of course what ended up happening.
Will Hawks trade Knicks ‘villain’ Trae Young during the offseason?
If Boston sweeps Atlanta as it did Brooklyn in last year’s playoffs, the Trae Young trade rumors will only heat up even more.
At the end of February, the Hawks fired Nate McMillan, who butted heads with Young. On one occasion earlier in the season, Young missed a home game against Denver because McMillan told him that he could either play or not show up to State Farm Arena at all. According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, who was a guest on The Ringer’s NBA Show podcast shortly after the disagreement between Young and McMillan, Hawks players were on McMillan’s side. That didn’t prevent Atlanta from firing McMillan and replacing him with Quin Snyder a few months later.
With Young, the furthest that the Hawks have made it in the playoffs was the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021 where they fell to the Bucks, 4-2. Knicks fans don’t need the reminder, but that was the same year that Atlanta breezed past New York in five games. The Hawks followed that playoff performance up by losing to the Heat in the first round of the 2022 playoffs, 4-1. Trading for Dejounte Murray over the summer was supposed to make Atlanta better, but his addition hasn’t moved the needle much for the Hawks.
Knicks fans won’t like to hear this, but if Young does become available on the trade market, New York will be connected to him due to the organization’s assets. It’s safe to say that many fans likely believe that he isn’t the star that the Knicks should trade for.
Still, it’ll be interesting to watch and see how Atlanta approaches the Trae Young situation this summer. If there is truly no untouchable player on the Hawks’ roster, Young could be suiting up for a new team just year. Just hope that it isn’t New York.