ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young says he has “nothing but love and respect” for former Atlanta Hawks coach Nate McMillan and expects to have no input in the hiring of McMillan’s replacement.
Young spoke with reporters on Friday for the first time since McMillan was fired on Tuesday with the Hawks in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Young was not available following Wednesday’s practice and was excused from Thursday’s practice for personal reasons.
Young is preparing for his third full-time coach in five seasons. Asked if he is worried another change impacts the perception of his ability to maintain long relationships with coaches, Young said “People are going to say what they’ve got to say.
“A lot of players have played for a lot of coaches. I don’t look at it like that. I’m not looking at the next coach who comes in here. I’m trying to win a championship, whatever it is, I’m just trying to win.”
Young, a two-time All-Star, is Atlanta’s on-court team leader as the starting point guard while also ranking as the team’s top scorer with 26.7 points per game. He dismissed speculation he had a rocky relationship with McMillan.
“There’s a lot of moments that people really don’t understand that me and him have had and that’s OK,” Young said after Friday morning’s practice. “It will get brought up eventually. I know I don’t tell everybody everything. I kind of let y’all make up rumors about certain things about how I am and how my relationship is with certain people. I just play basketball.”
Young said he has talked with McMillan since the firing and added “It’s not the last time he and I are going to talk.”
Hawks general manager Landry Fields on Wednesday said speculation that McMillan was hampered by conflicts with Young were unfair to Young. Fields said McMillan’s relationship with Young was not a factor in his decision to make a coaching change.
Fields said he already has launched his search for McMillan’s full-time replacement and said former Utah coach Quin Snyder is a candidate.
Young said “I don’t care to have any input” in the coaching search.
“I trust those guys up top,” he said. “Since I’ve been here I’ve always said that. Nothing has changed for me.”
Fields said he believed it was time for a new voice on the Hawks bench and said “there was slippage” as the team lost four of six games before the All-Star break.
Asked if he believes it was time for a new voice, Young said “That’s not up to me.”
“I don’t know. I think that’s part of it. I think sometimes it’s not always going to be easy. Some conversations are not going to go great. That’s just part of it. Not every situation is easy and nice.”
Young participated in Friday’s practice and is expected to start in Friday night’s game against Cleveland as the Hawks (29-30) hope for a late-season surge under interim coach Joe Prunty.