The Hawks are on the verge of a first-round playoff exit and the conclusion of a disappointing season. After pushing all their chips in to acquire Dejounte Murray last summer, Atlanta took a step back defensively, fired its head coach midseason, and barely squeaked into the seventh seed. Now they’re down 3-1 to the vastly superior Celtics.
Naturally, the franchise — with new management in charge and a new head coach in Quin Snyder — will have to look deep into the mirror and reflect on the state of things this summer. Is there a path to contention for the current group and, if not, what is the best way to proceed?
As Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer suggests, one potential path forward is trading Trae Young, retooling the supporting cast, and building around Murray (or blowing it up entirely). Hawks ownership gave the front office the freedom to trade anyone and Young’s name has been hot in the rumor mill lately.
With the Sixers facing questions of their own ahead of a pivotal offseason, ripe with James Harden speculation and a slew of key free agents, could Young eventually find himself tied to Philadelphia? Well, probably not. There are some potentially unavoidable hurdles that stand between Young and the City of Brotherly Love.
3 hurdles that will keep the 76ers from trading for Trae Young
1. Financial flexibility (or, lack thereof)
The Sixers are loaded with big contracts right now and will have to extend Tyrese Maxey to a hefty contract in the near future. Joel Embiid is locked into a max deal, the Sixers would probably like to re-sign James Harden to a max deal in the summer, and Tobias Harris has one year left on his deal for roughly $39 million.
Harris’ contract is the only reasonable vehicle for matching Young’s salary in a potential trade. While the Hawks could theoretically be interested in such a big expiring contract ahead of a potential rebuild, Harris doesn’t hold much value independently — at least, not nearly enough to match Young’s value.
There are plenty of valid criticisms of Young as a player, but he’s a franchise pillar on offense who has led his team to the conference finals once already. He’s only 24 years old and is under team control through at least 2026. Tobias Harris doesn’t move the needle much.