Does Trae Young make sense for the rebuilding Spurs and Victor Wembanyama?

CHICAGO — Once Sunday’s NBA Draft lottery netted Atlanta the No. 1 overall pick, NBA personnel attending this week’s combine activities quickly spun their attention to the Hawks’ various trade options this offseason. Atlanta was already one of the more active teams in the league in advance of last February’s trade deadline, gauging rival clubs’ interest across the Hawks roster — with the exception of breakout forward Jalen Johnson. From the moment that 3 p.m. ET buzzer sounded, and Dejounte Murray remained in Atlanta, rival teams have braced for the Hawks to revisit trade calls that could split their All-Star backcourt this summer. Now with the No. 1 pick in hand, there remains a healthy expectation the Hawks will consider dealing Trae Young as well.

There have been several potential destinations for Young swirling around the NBA rumor mill for months. San Antonio has no clear lead guard of the future, despite the strong table-setting of Tre Jones, and league personnel believe the Spurs will explore their options to find a long-term pick-and-roll partner for 7-foot-4 phenom Victor Wembanyama this summer. There’s also the clear synergy of San Antonio holding the Hawks’ picks, which were traded to acquire Murray in the first place. Both general manager Landry Fields and new Hawks assistant general manager Onsi Saleh began their respective careers in the Spurs’ front-office ranks. Plus San Antonio landing the Nos. 4 and 8 picks in June’s draft would stand as one of the few logical trade-up scenarios if Atlanta were to entertain moving down from the top spot.

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, left, looks to pass against Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso and center Nikola Vucevic, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game in Chicago, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
There are a lot of factors to consider about the Trae Young market this offseason. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

San Antonio personnel would be committing front-office malpractice by not contemplating the opportunity to pair a league assist leader and high-screen maestro like Young to pair with Wembanyama. The Spurs have so far approached building around Wembanyama as an intriguing experiment, where they will weigh all different kinds of variables around their Rookie of the Year. However, according to multiple league figures with knowledge of the situation, any Spurs plans of maneuvering to bring Young to San Antonio have been vastly overstated. The Spurs, sources said, have expressed little interest in obtaining Young to date.

Where Young will fall among the pecking order of available talent this offseason has been a predominant question league personnel are discussing throughout this combine week. The Lakers, for example, are one team that holds interest in Young after Los Angeles held trade discussions with Atlanta about Dejounte Murray back in February, sources said. The Lakers are now armed with three first-round picks to pursue a premier talent to team with James and Davis, but Los Angeles will have to consider other options before committing any type of capital for Young.

Donovan Mitchell, for starters, would rate far above Young on the league’s open market if Mitchell’s extension conversations don’t lead to a guaranteed future for the All-Star guard in Cleveland. With Mitchell sidelined by a calf injury, the Cavaliers appear destined for a quick exit from the second round at the hands of Boston. Will one series victory be enough to secure a long-term commitment from Mitchell, especially to a franchise that was not on his proverbial wish list when Mitchell was departing Utah? Will it be enough to secure J.B. Bickerstaff on Cleveland’s bench, as we’ve already seen more accomplished coaches terminated during this vicious staffing cycle?

Any team and any front office, armed with draft capital and looking to improve, from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, or New Orleans and Philadelphia, or the always star-hunting Miami Heat, will be patient with any possible approach for Young, until there’s greater clarity on someone of Mitchell’s pedigree. The same goes for Paul George, the Clippers’ All-Star wing, who has yet to sign an extension with Los Angeles, and rival teams are still preparing for the chance that George will decline his 2024-25 player option in order to become an unrestricted free agent. An unofficial poll of executives in Chicago also suggests Pelicans wing Brandon Ingram will have a wider range of teams interested in acquiring the one-time All-Star, as compared to Young, should New Orleans truly explore a roster shake-up of that magnitude.