Ex-NBA superstar prays nightly for Trae Young to join Spurs: ‘I need this to happen’

Mike Battaglino
4 Min Read
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

If there are such entities as basketball gods, one former NBA star said he is praying to them to get Trae Young to the San Antonio Spurs so he can play alongside phenom Victor Wembanyama.

The Atlanta Hawks guard is currently sidelined by a finger injury, and there may be a chance he is not able to return to play for them again this season. If DeMarcus Cousins has his way, Young will never play for them again.

“I hope this is the last time we see him in a Hawks uniform,” Cousins said. “I feel like his talent is bein’ wasted. His prime is bein’ wasted.”

While Young’s long-term future may be unknown, Cousins has some advice for the All-Star’s shorter-term goals.

“Get healthy,” Cousins said. “Get yourself 100 percent correct, whether that’s in Atlanta or — y’know, fingers crossed — the San Antonio Spurs. … It’s a match made in heaven. It just makes sense.

“This Hawks team just isn’t doing anything for this talent.”

The No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks, Young was traded to the Hawks on draft day for Luka Doncic, who was the No. 3 overall selection. Since then, Young has played all six of his NBA seasons with the Hawks, putting up impressive individual statistics with a modicum of team success.

Since his sophomore campaign, the 25-year-old has averaged at least 25 points and nine assists per game in each season. Though the Hawks have made the NBA playoffs the past three seasons, they have been hovering just over the .500 mark in that time. Also, they have gotten out of the first round just once, when they reached the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, which they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games.

That series was thought to possibly be the start of an ascension for the Hawks franchise and a step toward superstardom for Young, but those higher levels have not quite been reached. This season, Atlanta is in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with a 25-32 record, while Young is averaging 26.4 points and 10.8 assists per game.

Cousins, himself the No. 5 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, started his career with the lowly Sacramento Kings before finding some team success later in his career.

“I take it personal because I was in that situation once,” Cousins said. “Hopefully this offseason, this is the season where he puts his foot down, uses his power and moves to a situation that’s gonna be healthy for him.”

The idea of what a pairing of Young with Wembanyama on the Spurs could accomplish is not Cousins’ alone. But, he definitely seems to be willing to do what he can to will it into existence.

“I pray to the basketball gods on the nightly,” Cousins said. “‘Please send Trae Young to San Antonio.’ I need this to happen for basketball.”

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.