The Atlanta Hawks have already made a trade that sent Cam Reddish to the New York Knicks, and it appears, based on rumors, that they’re far from finished. Franchise point guard Trae Young is safe, along with his pick-n-roll partner Clint Capela, but that’s it.
Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk has already admitted publicly that he may have mishandled the roster this past offseason.
Well, it certainly seems like he’s ready to course correct in a significant way.
Atlanta has underwhelmed thus far in 2021-22
Coming off an Eastern Conference Finals berth in 2021, expectations were high for an up-and-coming Hawks team that was young, led by a superstar in Trae, and returned most of its roster.
But things haven’t played out the way the organization had hoped.
As of Jan. 14, Atlanta is 17-23 and 12th in the Eastern Conference standings. The Hawks are three games back of the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics, who are tied for the last spot in the play-in tournament.
An offense led by Young will always be solid — the team is 10th in the NBA in scoring. But it’s also 15th in rebounding, 17th in assists, and 25th in points allowed.
The slight point guard has gotten his traditional stats, but John Collins is Atlanta’s second-leading scorer and is averaging more than 10 fewer points per game than Young.
Bogdan Bogdanovic is third, averaging just 12.2 points a night.
Earlier this month, via The Athletic, Shlenk said, “Every team we play goes out and gets 130 (points).
“There are only (three) times we can make changes: the draft, free agency and the trade deadline. It’s my responsibility to put a product on the floor that can win, and right now, I’m questioning whether or not I’ve done that.”
So Atlanta’s GM has started the bidding.
Everyone but Young and Capela are ‘available’ for a mid-season exit
The first big deal leading up to the trade deadline was the Atlanta Hawks-New York Knicks swap involving Reddish. The 22-year-old wing was sent to the Knicks, along with Solomon Hill, in exchange for Kevin Knox and a protected first-round pick.
Essentially, Atlanta dealt away a player it wasn’t going to re-sign long term and was able to recoup at least some value in the form of cap space and an eventual first-rounder.
Not a blockbuster trade, but the Hawks have a gluttony of players fighting for rotation minutes, especially on the wing, so the deal makes sense as sort of addition by subtraction.
And it appears only to be the start.
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report sent along the rumor that “Everyone but Trae Young and Clint Capela are available,” according to one NBA assistant GM.
The Hawks have a significant number of players who would be in high demand. Although his recent contract extension makes it harder to find a trade partner, Collins is one of the more underrated forwards in the league.
De’Andre Hunter, who was part of the gang blocking Reddish’s minutes, would also be a good get for most teams in the NBA, contender or not, as a young three-and-D wing with a low usage rate and averages of 12.8 points and 4.4 rebounds on better than 35% shooting from three.
Veteran forward Danilo Gallinari has been on the block since before Reddish was dealt. If Atlanta wanted to go big-game hunting (Ben Simmons anyone?), his salary would be good filler in a deal, and only $5 million of his 2022-23 salary is guaranteed.
Veteran point guards Lou Williams and Delon Wright are on the roster, as is center Gorgui Dieng, each of whom could be attractive depth on championship hopefuls.
If the Atlanta Hawks rumors are true, its roster could look drastically different the second half of the season
Young and Collins were around for the start of Atlanta’s rebuild. Huerter fell into the starting lineup almost immediately when he was drafted, and Capela entered the frame as a key starter shortly after that.
Hunter and Reddish came in as two top-10 picks. Then as the Hawks began to win, Gallinari and Bogdanovic were added.
That’s the core of the team that nearly made the Finals last season. All returned this year, but the team hasn’t played as well or meshed together as well and seemingly has had too many bodies for too few spots, especially with as ball-dominant as Young is.
There are small moves to make around the margins or complete franchise-altering deals that would shake up the NBA.
But no matter what happens, Schlenk has made it obvious he’s unhappy with his team as currently constructed. So he’s making a statement.
And if that statement becomes a reality, the Atlanta Hawks roster will look drastically different after the Feb. 10 trade deadline.
All statistics courtesy of NBA.com.