Times change, seasons change, and people change. But some things never do and one of them is the impression one leaves behind. It is rare to ever hear an organization bash one of its former members even if the breakup ends less than amicably. For an Atlanta Hawks team that boasted tremendous chemistry, however, it is easy to take their words at face value.
No better example may exist than in how they navigated Cam Reddish’s trade request ahead of last season only to bide their time until the right deal came along. The locker room withstood what could have turned into an awkward and ugly situation.
One of the key figures in that entire ordeal was Kevin Huerter. The fourth-year swingman has since been traded to the Sacramento Kings and is set to make his return on Wednesday.
It’s what the Hawks had to say about Huerter that will stand out ahead of this meeting.
John Collins, Nate McMillan sound off on former Hawks swingman Kevin Huerter
Huerter is in the midst of his best season as a pro averaging 16.7 points, 3.3 assists, and 3.1 rebounds for the 10-6 Kings who sit third in the Western Conference. The 6-foot-7 former 19th-overall pick in 2018 is shooting a clean 50% from long distance – surely something the Hawks could use right now.
Forward John Collins, who has been mired in trade rumors longer than it took for Huerter’s market to develop and a deal to come to fruition, chimed in on his former teammate’s breakout season.
“K’Von,” Collins exclaimed. “That’s my boy, man. It’s going to be hard…He’s doing well, he’s playing well. So, it’s bittersweet seeing him play well on the other side, but I’m always wishing for the best for K’Von, Red Velvet, whatever. You know he’s got all the names, all the swag. I love my boy, I love him.”
Collins added that he would be giving Huerter some grief over the headband the latter has sported this season.
The Hawk’s big man’s three-ball has been a topic of late as the Hawks enter the contest ranking just 27th in three-point efficiency and 29th in attempts per game this season.
They ranked just 18th in attempts last season but they were second in efficiency.
Head coach Nate McMillan called Huerter “one of his favorite guys”, per “Locked on Hawks” host Brad Roland. He entrusted Huerter to guard the other team’s best player on several occasions during the Hawks’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021.
The Hawks, who have had some difficulty guarding the perimeter lately, will have their hands full with a player whom they are very familiar with.
How they handle him and the upstart Kings will say a lot about a team that the jury is still out on.