The Atlanta Hawks “need everybody” if they want to be successful. That was the message from Dejounte Murray as he talked about getting a 117-109 win over the Denver Nuggets despite the Hawks missing three starters. It’s a message that just as easily could have been aimed at teammate Trae Young.
Young skipped the game entirely after, according to reports, being given a choice of coming off the bench or not showing up to the arena by head coach Nate McMillan who wanted his star to participate in shootaround to determine his availability.
Much to McMillan’s dismay, Young preferred getting treatment for his injured shoulder.
Prior to the Hawks’ 119-112 loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Young spoke on the “mutual” decision.
Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young sounds off on decision to skip win vs DEN
“I mean we’re all grown men here,” said Young of the disagreement with McMillan, “and there’s some times when we don’t always agree…But I’m just focused on basketball and focused on helping my team win and that’s what I got to get to refocusing on.”
Young lamented the fact that the “private matter” was made public but chalked it up to modern-day society.
When pressed on the public aspect of skipping the game, Young bristled.
“It’s hard for people who don’t know the full situation to understand it,” asserted Young. “So, like I said it’s a private matter, again, it made public which is unfortunate. And if it would have stayed private it probably wouldn’t have been as big of a deal. It’s unfortunate but my job is to win a championship and that’s all I’m focused on.”
Young was again pressed on whether or not he understood the optics of his missing the game in light of the report the events of which he did not deny.
His answer was a little firmer this time.
“When you’re an outside guy…you don’t understand, in a private matter and a private situation, you should probably stay on the outside. Like I said, 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.”
Asked if he agreed on it being a poor visual, Young again rejected that notion saying he doesn’t “necessarily disagree” with the choice “that I made”.
That last part is key as Young later said his missing Friday’s tilt was a “mutual” decision.
He said he and McMillan would “figure that out” when asked how he and his head coach will work through future miscommunications should they arise.
Young was asked about embracing the expectation of leadership that comes with being the face of a franchise. He said that he does and has since he was drafted but Friday’s decision – whether it was made by Young alone or in concert with McMillan – might not necessarily put either Young or the Hawks in the best light.
Presented with that concept, and that it is the second such incident in the past three years, Young pointed out that the Hawks went to the Eastern Conference Finals after McMillan took over for Lloyd Pierce.
McMillan also addressed the issue.
“Part of coaching is keeping your team together – keeping a group, a family together,” the coach told reporters. “And you’re going to have all kinds of situations…that come up daily…But I addressed the team about that, I’ve talked with Trae about that. We’re moving forward.”
McMillan did say that he did not and would “never ever” tell a player not to show up to a game which does beg the question of with whom the “mutual” decision for Young not to play was made.
Added to the complexity of the situation, Sam Amick of The Athletic who co-wrote the piece detailing the blow-up between McMillan and Young said on the “Real Ones” podcast that, if asked, Hawks players would side with the coach over the player before making clear the matter is workable and that neither is expected to be going anywhere.
As was written in the initial report, Amick says this is a microcosm of the Hawks situation which has already seen them hold “multiple” team meetings to address issues.
The loss to the visiting Thunder surely won’t do much to quell the situation.
But, according to all parties involved, this is a non-issue and apparently not something we should expect to hear about again.