“I’m going to do whatever it takes for my team to win night in and night out,” Butler told reporters, per David Lang of Local10.com on April 10. “As I take on tomorrow’s matchup and we get that win, we’ll worry about what goes on down the line, but I think I’ll be a decent basketball player at the end of the day.”
Butler was in no way throwing shade at the Hawks but his team’s recent history, however, against Atlanta leaves plenty to be desired from the Hawks. Especially after it was Miami who bounced the Hawks out of the postseason last year in just five games.
Atlanta’s sole win in that first-round series came in Game 3 and at home.
They will have neither such luxury this time around after going 1-3 against their division rival and 17-24 on the road overall during the regular season.
Miami has made life tough for Trae Young to the point where even having Dejounte Murray next to him for all four of the previous meetings made no difference with the Hawks losing by exactly eight points in three of the four tilts. Still, the Hawks go as Young goes and it’s been rather ugly against the Heat for the back-to-back total assists leader.
“The Trae Young narratives,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, per Ira Winderman of the Orlando Sun-Sentinel on April 10. “I am aware of that.
“You’re going to get his best. …as you should expect.”
The Hawks’ injury report is clean heading into the game, no small thing given that Bogdan Bogdanovic, John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, and even Young have littered the list in recent days and weeks down the stretch of the regular season.
Trae Young’s hold on Atlanta Hawks’ FO back under the microscope
“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,” wrote Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer on April 9. “Regardless of Trae’s desire to stay, it could be the Hawks that decide to change course following a likely early exit from the play-in or the postseason.”
This report seems to be in line with statements from owner Tony Ressler in which he spoke of empowering his front office of general manager Landry Fields and assistant general manager Kyle Korver to run the team as they see fit.
But Ressler also made it clear how he feels about the current face of the franchise.
“Trae is an incredible player,” Ressler told ‘Dukes and Bell’ on 92.9 The Game on March 3. “But, when it comes to how and which players to talk about and the basketball – what we’re trying to achieve on the floor, what we’re trying to build – that’s what Landry, that’s what [assistant general manager Kyle Korver], that’s what [head coach Quin Snyder], and frankly, that what the players should be talking about. But, if you’re asking me am I’m a fan of Trae Young, he’s extraordinary.”
It is not the ringing endorsement some might expect to hear regarding the franchise cornerstone but it is also far from a five-alarm fire that suggests Young could be out in Atlanta.
Still, this is a persistent rumor that has even seen reports it has been discussed internally.
Young was considered by rival executives to be the next big star to ask out of his current situation if the Hawks failed to make any noise this postseason, per Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report, but even Haynes noted that Young and Fields have a good relationship.
At this point, it’s still much ado about nothing but it’s likely a storyline that’s going to get plenty of run this offseasons, whenever it officially begins.