He certainly was not trash; he had the misfortune of playing with worse teammates than nearly any 'superstar' in NBA history.
He joined a Hawks core that was a playoff team before he got there and in his first season was one of 5 recent all stars and all but one of them proved to still be capable of playing on a high level. His Jazz teams were poor but really...he had an all nba first team bigman and briefly Gail Goodrich who was an all star the season before on the Lakers. A hell of a lot of superstars cant say they were on a team as one of two all nba first teamers with a #3 who is an aging star.
His teams were bad. They were niot generally Tracy Mcgrady on orlando bad.
The Hawks especially had as much as can be reasonably expected. He had Lou Hudson who wasl ike a 7 time all star and a respected player and Bellamy who was still a 19/13, 15/13, and 16/14 player at the time.
Hardly a super team...but not a team that should be called one of the worst ever. Pete had more to work with than Paul Pierce pre Big 3. Or Tmac in his prime. Or Barkley in his pre Suns prime. Hell of a lot of superstarsh ad less to work with and got more done.
There are guys outside the top 100 who took much less talent to 50 wins. Pete just wasnt into winning basketball. Ive read coaches saying he played no defense....Charley rosen who has his...issues...but sure as hell saw more of the 70s than most of us...ranked him as the worst defensive player ever. His own GM from the Hawks said they couldnt get rid of him because nobody thought he was worth his contract and he hurt good basketball. The only reason he endedu p on the Jazz was them needing him to sell tickets since he went to LSU.
Pete wasnt nearly as respected as I think people assume he was. Players had love for his style of play. People knew he was talented. But I bet few wanted to play with him.
Lot of that might be different had the Hawks and ABA/Bucks not had issue with Doctor J signing with the Hawks. I read they were the most exciting fast break of all time...in their 2 preseason games together.
Doc might have saved Petes reputation.