LAS VEGAS — Rival executives in attendance at the NBA's annual G League Winter Showcase are of the belief that Atlanta Hawks star point guard Trae Young could be the next player on a rookie max extension to request a trade if the team doesn't make inroads come postseason time.
Young, 24, is as competitive as they come and has a strong desire to win big in this league. He's under contract through the 2026-27 season but has an early termination option after the 2025-26 season.
Atlanta has struggled to find the chemistry that propelled it to the Eastern Conference Finals two years ago. Last season, the Hawks won just one playoff game, losing in five games to the Miami Heat. This season, they are on a similar trajectory with an underwhelming 16-16 record, ninth in the Eastern Conference. All that despite the offseason addition of star guard Dejounte Murray, a player Young encouraged management to pursue.
This week, Atlanta ownership reassigned president Travis Schlenk—who drafted Young—to an adviser role. How the Hawks shape the roster around Young under general manager Landry Fields, the newly appointed front-office chief, will be monitored closely. A source told B/R that Young and Fields meet routinely and have a great relationship.
Fields has the green light from ownership to do what's necessary to acquire upgrades, but the hard part is executing. John Collins has been made available in trade talks, but it is unclear if the organization can return a package that would make the team better.
DeRozan Could Ask Out This Summer
The Chicago Bulls are dealing with some dysfunction as it pertains to team chemistry and accountability while stationed 11th in the Eastern Conference standings (13-18). If matters don't improve this season, rival executives believe it could lead star guard DeMar DeRozan to request to be moved in the offseason, league sources tell Bleacher Report.
DeRozan, who has been the Bulls' most consistent star, has one year remaining on his deal. Playing on an expiring contract is a non-starter for most high-caliber players. The options: Extend after the season or ask for a new location. Chicago has its work cut out.
Clarkson and Jazz Engaged in Extension Talks
Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson and his representatives have entered into contract extension dialogue, league sources tell Bleacher Report.
The situation is fluid as both sides are working toward a resolution that could even result in shelving talks and letting the 2020-21 Sixth Man of the Year test free agency next summer when he would be one of the top guards on the market. It would require Clarkson, 30, to decline his $14.3 million player option. He's averaging career highs of 20.1 points and 4.5 assists per game.
Christian Wood Available?
Rival teams have begun monitoring what the Dallas Mavericks intend to do with center Christian Wood. Dallas has yet to show any indication that he has been made available for a trade, but some teams believe that could change soon.
The 27-year-old veteran is playing on an expiring contract and will be extension-eligible Dec. 24. He'd be eligible for a four-year, $77 million extension. The fit in Dallas hasn't been the most fruitful, and Wood has publicly and privately petitioned for a bigger role.
The Return of GP2
Portland Trail Blazers guard Gary Payton II hopes to make his season debut next week, league sources tell Bleacher Report. The defensive stalwart has been recovering from offseason surgery to a core muscle.
The organization thought he would have returned to action a month earlier, sources say, but Payton opted to take his time to heal not only physically but mentally. He will receive his championship ring Dec. 30 when the Trail Blazers visit the Golden State Warriors.
Winslow to Undergo MRI
Portland Trail Blazers forward Justise Winslow is expected to undergo an MRI on his left ankle, league sources tell Bleacher Report. He was helped off the court late in the third quarter of Wednesday's loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder after he landed on the foot of Thunder forward Kenrich Williams.