Trae Young's encouraging message to Huerter after Kings-Hawks originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Huerter’s NBA journey came full circle on Wednesday.
For the fifth year in a row, Huerter conversed with Young and other Atlanta Hawks players and coaches during warm-ups at State Farm Arena. It was as if it was 2020. He even did his normal everyday handshake with John Collins.
This time, however, Huerter was sporting purple and white with “Kings basketball” across his chest and would be playing against, not with, the guys he once called his teammates.
For the first time since being traded to Sacramento on July 6, Huerter returned to the place he called home for four seasons when the Hawks hosted the Kings.
After already averaging career-high shooting percentages in the first 17 games with the Kings, Huerter wasn't as "lights out" as he typically has been with Sacramento.
He finished with 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field and 3-of-7 from what has been his danger zone behind the arc.
Huerter's homecoming wasn't as sweet as he would have liked. The Kings fell to the Hawks 115-106, and their historic seven-game win streak was snapped in the ATL.
After the game, Young shared an encouraging message to his former teammate on Instagram.
Huerter has NBA playoff experience. In his last two seasons with the Hawks, Atlanta made it to the postseason and went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2020-21 season.
In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers that same playoff run, Huerter scored a playoff career-high 27 points to lead the Hawks to their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2015.
But after being traded to Sacramento, he knows it's a different story and hopes he also can change the narrative in his new home.
The Kings haven't made a postseason appearance in an NBA-record 16 seasons. It's early, but this year already feels different in the 916.
On top of De'Aaron Fox playing the best basketball of his career, it's players like new additions Huerter and Malik Monk who could be those difference makers for Sacramento.
The atmosphere is different in Sactown. Fans are more engaged than ever. A purple beam lights up after every team win. It feels like the playoffs, but Huerter, and the rest of the team, know there's still plenty of work to do to get there.
It's a feel-good underdog story, and Young clearly is supportively engaged.