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Evolution of Trae Young at Summer League

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LAS VEGAS — Trae Young looked overmatched in his first two Summer League games. No question.

In Salt Lake City, the No. 5 pick and newest face of the Atlanta franchise shot 9-of-36 overall and 2-of-16 from three through two games. The Stephen Curry comparisons, which were always overheated, looked foolish. Young couldn’t create space on his drives, could not find lanes for his passes, and was rushing his shot. Like everyone around the NBA, I wrote about it saying he “laid bricks.” NBA Twitter roasted him. There was a lot of “they wanted this guy instead of Luka Doncic?” comments, and a few hot takers ever threw the “B” word — “bust” — around.

Hawks’ coach Lloyd Pierce saw things differently.

Looking at the big picture, he wasn’t worried about a few missed shots, he knew that would change. Pierce said he thought his rookie point guard was making good decisions, just not executing them. Yet.

“I don’t know if you guys expected that, but I expected that…” Pierce said after Young’s first game in Utah. “I’ve done this 11 years now, you come out for your first Summer League game and everybody thinks it’s going to be a home run, a success. Then you see ‘I’ve got a lot of work to do.’”

By the time the Hawks got to Las Vegas, Trae Young had put in some work and figured out Summer League.

In Las Vegas, Young is averaging 17 points and 7.8 assists per game. He’s still searching for efficiency and taking some poor shots, but he’s creating space, impressing with his passing, and improving. Fast.

Pierce’s big picture outlook seems justified.

“It’s hard to be upset with a player when you don’t know what they know,” Pierce told NBC Sports in Las Vegas about the process with Young. “So I’m giving them a little bit, and now I get to evaluate it, I get to study it, then I get to coach them just a little bit.”

Young has figured out how to make his game work against Summer League competition — but 90 percent of the players in Las Vegas will not be on an NBA roster. Young is going to get a lot of minutes against elite NBA defenders come next season, guys Pierce described as “bigger, stronger” than what Young has seen so far.

Summer League is just the start of the process, a place to benchmark where Young is at.

“So we have a couple areas with Trae… where we say, ‘you know what, I know what we need to work on,’” Pierce said. “More will come, but at least I have a starting point and we can have a conversation now.

“The conversation is, ‘There’s a lot of work to be done.’ For all of us, myself included. And then you got to perform 82 nights, so how do we help you get better? How do we help you understand what you’re going to need at this level? That’s the starting point that we have.

“The conversation is for them to understand, and to hear it from me. I know what we’re trying to get across, I know it’s going to take a while, but we’ve got to start somewhere and that’s what I’m doing with this summer.”

Young’s summer has shown the potential to learn and adapt. That’s a good sign, because while fans can fixate on what a player does at Summer League, what matters to teams is how players improve from July until camp opens. And from there, how they grow over the course of a season until next fall.

Young’s game has evolved over the first two weeks of July. Keep that trend up and he will earn that face-of-the-franchise tag Pierce and the Hawks are counting on. But there’s a lot of work between now and then.

PBT Extra: Breaking down Jeremy Lin, Isaiah Thomas player moves

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The NBA Summer is slowing down, although there are a couple of big shoes to drop still (Carmelo Anthony will be a Rocket, eventually; Marcus Smart‘s future is more uncertain).

But Thursday night a couple of name guards were on the move — Jeremy Lin is now in Atlanta and Isaiah Thomas will call Denver home. It was all part of a series of moves where the Nuggets shed salary by shipping Kenneth Faried and more to Brooklyn, along with a first-round pick for the Nets’ trouble of taking on that contract.

I get into all of it and tell you who I think had the best night in this latest PBT Exta.

One thing I don’t get into enough in this: Thomas has had a massive fall in stature in the past year. That said, Denver is a place he can rebuild his reputation and earn himself a bigger payday next summer — if he can accept and then kill it in a sixth man role.

Report: Jeremy Lin acquisition expedites Hawks trading Dennis Schroder

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After drafting point guard Trae Young, the Hawks said they’d keep incumbent starting point guard Dennis Schroder.

But Atlanta trading for another point guard, Jeremy Lin, has blown the lid off that obvious ruse.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

However, the deal for Lin probably will expedite a Schroder trade this summer, league sources said.

Schroder would probably welcome a trade at this point.

But who will take him? He’s due $46.5 million over the next three years and also faces the prospect of felony battery charge. He’s talented and just 24, but that’s a lot to swallow.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if Atlanta just stuck Schroder deep on the bench behind the better Lin and more promising Young. But it appears an actual Schroder trade is forthcoming.

Jeremy Lin reportedly traded to Atlanta Hawks

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The Atlanta Hawks have Trae Young as their point guard of the future, now they may be turning to Jeremy Lin to bridge the gap (and that can’t be good news for Dennis Schroder).

Brooklyn has agreed to send Lin to Atlanta, which has the cap space to absorb him, and they are swapping second-round picks, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

For the Nets, this is about clearing cap space. They are going to have the space to offer two max contracts next summer.

Lin played in just one game last season due to injury. He is owed $12.5 million this season.

Lin would work as a secondary point guard with the Hawks with Young, as he adapts to the NBA. They could move him in another trade package immediately, but that’s not the plan.

There is little chance the Hawks will keep Schroder, Lin, and Young on the roster this fall. The Hawks have tested the trade market for Schroder, but he is owed three-years, $46.5 million, and does not have the best reputation as a teammate. That has made the trade market for him thin. They are going to push that now.

Other moves are coming from the Hawks. This, however, is a solid one.

Report: Hawks offered No. 3 pick, Kent Bazemore to Cavaliers on draft night

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The Hawks traded the No. 3 pick (Luka Doncic) to the Mavericks for the No. 5 pick (Trae Young) and a future first-round pick.

But, Atlanta apparently also explored using the No. 3 pick to unload Kent Bazemore (two years, $37,359,549 remaining).

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

A source said the Cavs were offered on draft night the chance to trade up to No. 3 with the Hawks in a deal that would’ve sent Kent Bazemore to Cleveland.

Presumably, the Cavaliers would have sent the No. 8 pick – which they used on Collin Sexton – to Atlanta.

But, with or without the No. 8 pick, that trade wouldn’t have satisfied salary-cap rules. Cleveland would have had to send out matching salary.

So, what else was included? Did the Hawks want Kevin Love? Would they have taken George Hill or J.R. Smith, whose 2019-20 salaries – unlike Bazemore’s – are only partially guaranteed?

We obviously don’t know the entire offer, which opens even more questions about what Atlanta wanted. The Hawks have the Cavaliers’ top-10-protected 2019 first-round pick. Did removing those protections factor into the trade offer?

The Hawks seemed set on Young, and moving down to No. 5 ensured they got him. That wouldn’t have been the case at No. 8 with the Magic (No. 6) and Bulls (No. 7) picking in between. So, not only is the exact offer unclear, so are potential contingencies it was based on. Perhaps, Atlanta would have picked Doncic then executed the deal only if Young fell to No. 8.

Could Cleveland have gotten Doncic for taking on the overpaid, but still helpful, Bazemore? Maybe – but that’s a significant oversimplification.