Atlanta Hawks star point guard Trae Young has been under fire after the team announced the firing of head coach Nate McMillan earlier this week. Basketball fans on social media has called Young selfish and said he was a “coach killer.” The Bleacher Report app even included a scene in their new episode from their anime cartoon titled “Hero Ball” where Lebron James gave Young a small knife with the phrase “coach killer” engraved on it and tells him to use it.
McMillan took over for the Hawks in the 2021 season after former head coach Lloyd Pierce was fired. McMillan had 99-80 record in his two and half seasons as Hawks head coach. He lead them to their second ever Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 2021.
Last season, the team creeped into the play-in tournament and fought their way to a playoff berth before losing to the Miami Heat in five games.
This season, they are a disappointing 29-30 and currently sit eighth in the Eastern Conference Standings.
Young and McMillan relationship took a turn when it was reported that the two got into an argument earlier this season. The argument started when McMillan wanted Young to participate in a shootaround before a December game against the Nuggets instead of receiving treatment for his injured right shoulder. Things between the two got heated and it resulted in Young not playing in the game.
Young’s Response to Critics
The star point guard has averaged 25 points and 9 assists per game for his career and is averaging 26.7 points and 10.3 assists per game this season. His numbers haven’t always translated into wins and McMillan is the second coach that has been fired in Young’s five-year career.
“I got a call and actually saw it from Woj [Adrian Wojnarowski] as I was waking up from a nap. It was a surprise to me with the timing and stuff right now, but, obviously, I know what this league is, and Nate knows. We’ve talked since then and stuff like that,” said Young.
He also expressed how much love and respect he has for his now former head coach and thanked him.
“We have a really good relationship and we have won a lot of games with each other. I think back to the play-in game last season and both of our bigs were out. We played against two monsters (Cavs big men), a lot of people thought we were out, but we talked about it at halftime and found a way to win that game,” stated Young. “I don’t tell yall everything, I let yall make up rumors. … I just play basketball and everybody around here know the type of person I am.”
Young was then asked about the coach killer comments.
“People gon’ say what they got to say. A lot of players have played for a lot of coaches. I am not looking at the next coach that comes in here because it’s whatever. I am trying to win championships. Whatever it is but I am trying to win,” said Young.
Hawks Next Head Coach
The Hawks have made a strong push for Utah Jazz former head coach Quin Snyder despite reports that linked Ime Udoka to the team. Snyder resigned from the Jazz after the 2021-22 season. He was a candidate for the Lakers and Nets head coaching jobs last offseason, but both teams went in different directions.
The 56-year-old was an assistant under former Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer and is considered the top candidate on the market.
If Snyder takes the position, he would be tasked with a roster that needs to be rebuilt and tough decisions on players such as John Collins. The Hawks have tried to deal Collins the past three seasons and were hesitant to give him an extension in the offseason of 2021.