Proposed trade sees Hawks swap 'polarizing' players with West rival

This trade proposal would see the Atlanta Hawks move their polarizing star for another in a one-for-one deal.
Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder
Atlanta Hawks head coach Quin Snyder / Alex Slitz/GettyImages

Opinions about what the Atlanta Hawks should do this offseason have been consistent. Few expect Trae Young and Dejounte Murray to be part of the same backcourt next season. But opinions on which one of them is the odd man out have shifted.

It was Murray at the trade deadline, with the Hawks rumored to be in talks with several teams. Trade winds then shifted to Young, including during this pre-offseason period.

“Young's open-market value feels impossible to pin down,” Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley wrote on May 29. “Rather than attempting to calculate his trade value in terms of picks, prospects and financial relief, Atlanta could always simplify the process by taking back a similarly polarizing player.

Buckley suggests a hypothetical 1-for-1 swap for New Orleans Pelicans star Brandon Ingram.

Trae to NOP 5.30.24

Ingram averaged 20.8 points, 5.7 assists, and 5.1 rebounds last season, shooting 49.2% from the floor and 35.5% from beyond the arc. That last number is critical in this hypothetical scenario, with both Ingram and Murray preferring to operate in the same areas of the court.

Ingram is going into the final year of a four-year, $158.2 million contract and will count $36 million against the salary cap in 2024-25.

The Hawks are among the teams linked to the one-time All-Star in early trade rumors.

“A growing belief leaguewide that Pelicans will aggressively explore the trade market for Brandon Ingram before next season,” The Stein Line’s Marc Stein wrote on May 12 (subscription required). “A handful of Eastern Conference teams (Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta and Orlando) have already been mentioned as potential trade suitors for Ingram.”

Ingram’s 64 appearances last season were his most since his rookie year in 2016-17. His points were his fewest since the 2018-19 season, while his assists, rebounding, and deep efficiency took steps back too.

That is why Ingram is viewed as “similarly polarizing” as Young.

Hawks star's trade value impacted by polarizing play

“He's [Young] a three-time All-Star with some of the gaudiest stat lines around,” Buckley wrote, “but he's also a glaring defensive liability and one of the more ball-dominant players in this league.”

Young averaged 25.7 points and a career-high 10.8 assists last season. His 54 appearances – largely due to finger surgery – were also the fewest of his career. 

He has led the NBA in total assists, also logging the total points crown in 2021-22. 

But he led the league in total turnovers in 2021-22 and 2022-23. The Hawks were 22-32 with him in the lineup and 14-14 without, fueling the initial speculation about his future during the season.

Young has three years and another $138 million left on his five-year, $215.1 million contract and has repeatedly said he wants to stay in Atlanta. He’s also the face of the franchise and led the team deeper into the postseason than they had been in all but one other season in Atlanta.

A trade that moves him in a package such as this could be difficult to rationalize.