Fake NBA trades are fun.
That is the premise of a recent piece from ESPN's Chad Ford (insider-only, $) that provides five "big NBA Draft trades we'd like to see" and one of the made-up deals involves the Atlanta Hawks. As you may suspect, the primary piece that would be headed out of town is none other than point guard Jeff Teague.
Though the full analysis of this fake deal can only be accessed behind a paywall, the basis of the deal is as follows:
- Sacramento Kings receive: Jeff Teague and Thabo Sefolosha
- Hawks receive: 8th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, shooting guard Ben McLemore and big man Kosta Koufos
Why would the Hawks do this? Well, in short, they want to part ways with Teague. That is the basis of every rumor involving the veteran point guard, and Ford asserts that Atlanta is "shopping Teague hard" right now. The aforementioned deal works under salary cap rules given the inclusion of Sefolosha, and while the veteran swingman is a very valuable player, he is only under contract through the end of the 2016-2017 season.
On Sacramento's side, this would be a slam dunk trade. The Kings get a very nice starting point guard for next season and a plug-and-play wing that would help their defense tremendously. While parting ways with a top-10 pick is never easy, Sacramento's draft record hasn't been stellar (see McLemore, Ben) and this would provide some theoretical stability.
Atlanta's end is... not so much of a slam dunk.
If we are to assume that Teague is absolutely gone (a bold assumption, to be sure), there are worse packages available, simply because this involves the number 8 pick. However, the 2016 NBA Draft isn't exactly one for the ages, and for next season, McLemore would be a steep downgrade from Sefolosha.
There are, of course, positives. McLemore would be a restricted free agent in the near future, meaning that the Hawks would have full match rights on any contract he signs. Unfortunately, McLemore has been brutal in his first three seasons, posting a career 9.1 PER with a 52.4% true shooting and more turnovers than assists. Still, this is a swingman with a nice pedigree and a sweet shooting stroke, and the Hawks have had real success in developing young players at that position with tools.
As for the rest of the package, the number 8 pick would bring some real value, with players like Jaylen Brown, Marquese Chriss, Domantas Sabonis and Henry Ellenson in theoretical view. Still, none of those players projects as an impact guy in the near future, and this would be a forward-facing deal to grab value for Teague before he hits the open market. Koufos is a nice throw-in given his cost control (under a reasonable contract through 2017-2018 with a player option the following season) but he is also quite repetitive with Tiago Splitter, leaving something of a conundrum there.
Again, this is a purely fake trade that should be treated as such, but hey, it's fun to analyze weird NBA deals in mid-June. Have at it.