Today’s franchise cornerstone can be tomorrow’s trade chip in the NBA and, really, sports in general.
That may be the message that Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young was referring to after tweeting out a message in the immediate aftermath of multiple reports that Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden was opting into his $35-plus million player option for next season and the two sides would work together to find a trade for the 33-year-old star.
Things can change in a heartbeat,” Young tweeted on June 29.
Harden’s potential departure this offseason has long been discussed with the Houston Rockets the rumored likely landing spot. A meeting with new Sixers head coach Nick Nurse was said to have created some doubt about that previously held inevitability, though.
Now, while it seems Harden’s plans to leave are still on as expected, his next NBA home might be further West than Houston or even further East than Philadelphia.
Trade rumors have begun to swirl around Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George who, along with teammate Kawhi Leonard, has become a polarizing figure with the Clippers organization due to how much time each has missed due to injury since arriving ahead of the 2019-20 season.
Of course, Young is also speaking from experience.
Atlanta Hawks could still have major changes on the horizon
The Hawks have had their former president of basketball operations step down, fired a head coach, and traded their longest-tenured player all since the season began. Even with all that, Wojanrowski reports they expected to remain active in search of upgrades for the roster.
Forward De’Andre Hunter has seen his name come up in trade rumors more frequently.
“The Hawks…explored the idea of trading De’Andre Hunter with AJ Griffin needing more playing time, Bleacher Report NBA draft analyst Jonathan Wasserman wrote in his final mock draft. It is a trend that figures to continue given Hunter’s four-year, $90 million contract kicks in next season and the Hawks are already having to make cost-cutting maneuvers like trading Collins.
But that’s not to say every hypothetical scenario has the Hawks embracing a minor rebuild. A mock draft that projected the Hawks to draft LeBron “Bronny” James Jr. with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.
Word of that caught LeBron James’ attention and, not long after he commented on the projection, Young weighed in.
Nothing is close to being imminent or even discussed beyond this point. By some accounts, James is expected to remain with the Lakers until he calls it a career while others think he could still choose to follow his son, assuming that is what the younger James wants the elder James clarified.
It is just another, albeit lesser reminder that things in the NBA can and do change almost on a whim quite often.