When it rains, it pours.
For the Atlanta Hawks this season, the team has underachieved months after being two games and one referee’s misplaced foot from the NBA Finals. They’ve underachieved according to general manager Travis Schlenk, head coach Nate McMillan and the roster’s own players.
With the Hawks will under .500 less than a month before the trade deadline, a lot of nights have been capped off by quotes of frustration in postgame press conferences. In the age of limited media access and five-minute Zoom sessions, the Hawks generally remained low-key on their run to the Eastern Conference Finals following the coaching change last season.
This season has been a bit different.
From Trae Young admitting the regular season can be a bit “boring” compared to the playoffs, to McMillan publicly voicing his concern for the team’s No. 21-ranked defense, to John Collins admitting he banged his head “on the wall a couple of times” trying to figure out why the unit has been so bad defensively.
Collins, who signed a 5-year, $125-million contract this past offseason, even pointed out the irony of the team’s repetitive postgame press conferences on Dec. 22, as highlighted by AJC’s Sarah Spencer.
“It’s the same old story,” Collins said. “We take bad shots, we don’t play defense, don’t rebound. We don’t. We lose. We’re losing. We’ve got to fight our way back into the game. It’s an uphill battle. It’s the same story. I could sit here and talk about it all day.”
Collins’ pre-Christmas frustration lines up with Shams Charania’s Jan. 10 report he felt has his voice has been “unheard” at times this season. Charania’s report this season, sounds similar to The Athletic’s report last season of Collins being frustrated with his lack of involvement in the offense. The fifth-year forward is averaging 17.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game this season.
While it remains to be seen if Collins voiced his frustration specifically to Young in a film session this year, as last season’s reports suggested, the team’s All-Star point guard also hasn’t held back in his thoughts on 2021-22.
“I feel like this is getting repetitive since my early years,” Young said after the team’s Jan. 9 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. “The losing. You try so hard to find a way to win and it’s just not enough. You got to find a way, it’s just tough.”
“I’m not the happiest guy in the world right now, but we’ve got to find a way to win.”
The players, coaching staff and general managers are all frustrated. With approximately four weeks remaining until the trade deadline, the team finds itself back in multiple trade rumors as the fans online begin to slowly call for the job of the head coach.
What comes next?
“That’s what I need to figure out,” Schlenk said on 92.9 The Game on Jan. 4.