The NBA trade deadline is just around the corner and we are about to the time of the year where the rumor mill gets in full swing. Many will look at the Atlanta Hawks' 27-19 record and determine that a shakeup is needed. There is no denying that the team has failed to replicate the magical run to 60 wins that made the 2015 season special. Still, those hoping that drastic changes are coming are likely to be disappointed.
Many that are looking to fix the Hawks will center on their biggest name. Al Horford will be a free agent at the end of the season and will be one of the most sought-after names on the market. While the Hawks are perfectly positioned to keep Horford, many think that a rival team could steal him away with a big offer. Still, BasketballInsiders.com's Steve Kyler places Horford among five players that will not be dealt at the deadline and cites people within the organization that think the suggestion is laughable.
"Hawks sources found the notion of trading Horford laughable, pointing to how important he was to the team dynamic in Atlanta and that he’s a core guy in Mike Budenholzer’s system."
Whether or not Horford should command max money from the Hawks is a fair discussion that I'm sure will be debated at length this summer. However, his value goes beyond the box score and the Hawks have always seemed to be intent on keeping him in Atlanta.
Trading him now wouldn't make much sense in the first place. His impending free agency would severely limit the return Atlanta would receive in a trade and it would leave a massive hole on the team's current roster. For all of Atlanta's ups and downs this season, they remain in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference.
The question facing the Hawks is do they want to pay market value for a long-term max level contract with Horford in July? As things stand today, it seems the Hawks are staying to course with Horford and believing they have the means to retain him in July – making him a name you can take off the board.
Things can change on a whim in the NBA and it is never smart to say never, but nothing short of Horford indicating that he will indeed look elsewhere this summer should alter the course for Atlanta.