January isn’t the most exciting month for the NBA, but the Atlanta Hawks had one of their most interesting weeks in recent history. A six-game winning streak, a significant trade, and more rumors on the horizon headline this week’s events for the Hawks.
From a pure wins-and-losses standpoint, the Hawks had an excellent week. Starting the year (and week) with a thrilling win on New Year’s Day against the San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta followed with road wins on Wednesday and Thursday. After winning against the Mavericks in Dallas, their sixth straight, Atlanta will finish the road trip on Tuesday night in Brooklyn.
However, the week’s games were overshadowed by what has now become national news: the Hawks traded Kyle Korver, and may be close to trading Paul Millsap as well. Rumors surfaced about Millsap’s availability early last week, and the news that Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha were potential trade targets as well soon followed.
On Friday, as all Hawks fans know by now, Atlanta traded Korver to the Cleveland Cavaliers. While this trade is significant in itself, it has understandably fueled the Millsap rumors even more. The Hawks apparently want a “quality” first-round pick in exchange for the veteran forward, and (whether or not they can get this specific asset in return), there should be plenty of potential bidders. Atlanta has come close to dealing Millsap in the recent past, but the Korver trade could mean that a deal is more likely this time around.
While there is much to be said about all of these specific moves and issues, the most important thing about this week’s trade news is that it signals a likely change in direction for the Hawks. The team still hasn’t committed to a full rebuild as of this writing, but trading Korver away clearly signals that the Hawks are no longer committed to winning this season above all else.
It will also be very interesting to see how the Millsap trade rumors develop. Millsap is so talented and versatile that multiple teams will be willing to trade for him, and whether or not there is anything resembling a “bidding war” could be significant if it increases the return Atlanta gets.
Ultimately, though, everything comes down to the direction that the franchise is moving in. Atlanta has famously avoided a full rebuild for some time now, but it’s clear that Mike Budenholzer is ready to try a new approach now. The Hawks are starting to stockpile a fairly impressive amount of draft assets overt the next few seasons, and how the Atlanta uses these will define the next five to ten years of the franchise.
Will the Hawks look drastically different by the end of this next week? Will the team that meets Al Horford in Philips Arena on Friday night be without even more starters? It’s hard to predict what is next for this Hawks team, but even more change is likely on the horizon.