Former exec weighs in on 'biggest question' facing Hawks after landing No. 1 pick

A former NBA front office member offered his take on the biggest question the Atlanta Hawks face after securing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.
Atlanta Hawks guards Dejounte Murray and Trae Young and Head Coach Quin Snyder
Atlanta Hawks guards Dejounte Murray and Trae Young and Head Coach Quin Snyder / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields has his work cut out for him.

After landing the No. 1 pick, Fields’ job only got more complicated with a crop of prospects viewed as weak among NBA teams and a star duo that may be destined for a breakup in Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.

Even in the immediate aftermath of winning the lottery for the first time in franchise history, the latter matter looms largest.

“Is it truly smart to break up the Dejounte Murray and Trae Young backcourt?” ESPN’s Bobby Marks, a former executive with the Brooklyn Nets, wrote on May 12.

“Getting the No. 1 pick does not dismiss how Atlanta should evaluate the Murray and Young backcourt. Per Cleaning the Glass, Atlanta was outscored by 6.0 per 100 possessions this season when both players were on the court together. The Hawks had a 120.7 defensive efficiency rating in their shared minutes, fifth worst among more than 225 duos to play 1,000 minutes together.”

Marks notes the financial aspect of the pairing as well.

Murray is set to count for $25.5 million against the cap next season in the first year of a four-year contract worth up to $120 million. Young will count $43 million against the cap in Year 3 of his five-year, $215.1 million pact.

Adding to the complexity of the situation, Young can opt out of his contract after the 2025-26 season.

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Trae Young wants to remain with Hawks amid trade rumors

“Everybody knows, obviously, I want to be in Atlanta,” Young said on the “From The Point” podcast on April 30. “When I was drafted, that’s where I wanted to spend my whole career. But at the same time, I want to win. So if we’re not on the same page wanting to win now…

“There’s times teams want to take their time, be slow with winning, their process. It’s just, I’m not there anymore. I want to win, and I’ve always been that way, so. I don’t feel like I have very much time to waste. I just want to continue to play at a high level, and I feel like I can do that: play at a high level and win.”

While he didn’t tip his hand as to which way the Hawks were leaning with the No. 1 pick – be it a prospect, type, or trade – Fields did note they are ready to seize the opportunity in front of them.

For Fields, landing the pick is “another part of our process.”

“I totally trust what we’ve been doing leading up even to this point in time, right?” Fields said. “Our process where choosing players, and bringing them into the building has already begun. We’ve been doing it. Our scouts have been extremely hard at work. People have been on the road – I’ve been on the road. We’re prepared for this moment, frankly. 

“We’ll get together as a group and continue to beat this thing up every which way to make sure we’re doing things right and what’s best for the Atlanta Hawks.”

The uncertainty around the draft class and the Hawks means “what’s best” is subjective.

It could also be music to the ears of prospective teams looking to acquire the No. 1 pick, one of the Hawks star guards, or any number of complementary pieces that should be available for a trade this offseason.