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In a sit-down interview with Taylor Rooks that aired on Tuesday, Trae Young said, in so many words, that he wants to remain with the Atlanta Hawks. He doesn't want to be traded. He wants to pursue a championship with the franchise that traded Luka Doncic to land him on draft night in 2018. 

This was, and will remain, a talking point because there has been no shortage of Young trade rumors this season. The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor went on record last month saying it is "highly likely" that Young will be traded this offseason. Howard Beck reported that Atlanta already explored trading Young to the Spurs ahead of the February deadline. 

The Lakers stood pat at the deadline to keep their two trade-eligible draft picks, which will become three this summer, in their holster, and Young is believed to be at or near the top of their wish list. Young would represent an almost perfect basketball partner for either Anthony Davis or Victor Wembanyama, throwing lobs on one end and having maximum defensive cover on the other. 

But for the purposes of this conversation, we're not wondering whether Young would make sense on the Lakers or Spurs, or on any other team for that matter (Orlando would be pretty fun). We're looking at the future out Atlanta's window. Is trading Trae the wisest move?

It's getting easier and easier to say yes. Atlanta has regressed, relatively speaking, probably more than any team in the league since its surprising run to the 2021 conference finals, which now looks more like a fluke. The Hawks have legitimate talent. They traded for Dejounte Murray, but as a pairing he and Young have registered a negative point differential across almost two years. Young's defense, or lack thereof, and his stranglehold on the offense make it difficult for some to envision him captaining a contender.  

It's also a matter of value. We know the Hawks looked into trading Murray as well, but he wasn't going to bring back the multiple first-round picks they covet. Young almost certainly will. But what kind of team do the Hawks want to be if they do end up trading Young? Does a fire sale ensue as they pivot into a full-on rebuild? Or do they believe they can reconstruct a more defensively capable roster around Murray and a suddenly untouchable Jalen Johnson?

If it's the latter, they're getting at least a peek at what life would be like without Young right now. He's been out since Feb. 24 and will likely miss most of March after having surgery on his finger. In his absence, the Hawks have won four of their last six games. Over that stretch, the offense, predictably, has been about four points per 100 possessions worse than it has been with Young on the court this season, while the defense has been about 10 points better. 

That's a significant net positive, but also an exceedingly small sample. And it hasn't even been an honest sample. Any reasonable conversation about Atlanta's defense over this stretch would have to begin with the Magic, the first team they played after Young's injury and a near bottom-five offense. 

After that, Utah is a mediocre offense. Brooklyn is just outside the bottom 10 and still beat the Hawks two straight times. The Knicks were without Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and OG Anunoby. The Cavs, whom the Hawks defeated on Wednesday, were without Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus and Evan Mobley

So yes, the Hawks have won four of their last six and in those four wins they have held their opponents to an average of 97.5 points per game. But they also won four of six just before Young went out: against the Lakers, Suns, Warriors and Raptors while playing the Clippers and Celtics tough. 

Both, ultimately, are small windows into a big dilemma. Should the Hawks trade Young? It's a long-term question that cannot be answered with short-term data. That said, the Hawks are paying attention to the look and feel of the team without Young right now, and they will continue do so over the next three weeks or so, you can count on that. 

For all intents and purposes, that's the only thing that matters for the rest of this season. Gathering as much information as possible that can inform their decision of whether to move on from Young. It's a question with perhaps no good answer. You can talk all you want about the things Young doesn't do (not moving without the ball is almost as detrimental as the defense), but the things he does do don't grow on trees. The Hawks know that, and as we speak they're trying to figure out if they can live long-term without them.