Each year, Zach Lowe of ESPN puts together a list of “crazy NBA predictions” and they always generate buzz around the league. It has to be noted that even Lowe says he is trying “to make some reasonable off-the-beaten-path calls, and go out on some crazy, ultra-specific limbs” but he is well-sourced and there is clearly some thought process behind his material.
With that in mind, this year’s edition includes a very interesting tidbit on the Atlanta Hawks and it comes in the form of “Atlanta tries to trade Dennis Schröder and Kent Bazemore.” Frankly, it comes as little surprise to anyone that the Hawks would market Bazemore’s contract and Lowe refers to the 2019-2020 portion of the deal as “the killer” in attempting to move him.
He does indicate (and rightly so) that it “should be easier” to move a wing in this market as opposed to be a big man but Bazemore would need to perform well and the Hawks would need to make a deal for him a priority. With that said, the more interesting portion of Lowe’s notes centers on the prospect of moving Schröder.
At this stage, it is universally accepted that the 24-year-old point guard is the best player on Atlanta’s roster. Still, a wide swatch of the league isn’t even sold on Schröder becoming a solid starter and Lowe brings insight on the situation.
We might be at least a year from any Dennis Schroder move. Most teams are satisfied with their point guard situations. But over the next year or so, some of those point guards will change teams, flame out, get injured, or enter free agency again. Travis Schlenk, Atlanta's new GM, didn't pick Schroder; Schlenk inherited him. Schroder has long been a polarizing locker-room presence, and his recent arrest on battery charges had executives around the league rolling their eyes.
Schroder is just 24 -- young enough to be a key piece in Atlanta's long-term rebuild. If he rehabilitates his trade value, he could also net Atlanta more picks. He's good enough to do it. If and when the Suns flip Bledsoe, they will need a long-term answer at point guard. The Bulls are still searching, though they would not deal their 2018 pick for Schroder. What about their protected 2019 pick? The Pacers need to find a young point guard somewhere.
While none of this is concrete (and that has to be emphasized), Lowe does go on to say that “Whether it's this season, this summer, next season or July 2019, the bet here is that Schroder finishes his contract someplace else.”
That is a sentence that might jar some Hawks fans but, again, this is a well-sourced writer that isn’t simply throwing things against the wall for sport.
At the end of the day, it is all about value and if the Hawks have a higher opinion of Schröder than the rest of the league, trades become difficult. The note about Schlenk inheriting Schröder is always quite noteworthy, if only to underscore that he has no attachment to the young point guard aside from his status as the team’s best player in a rebuilding year.
Will the Hawks pull the trigger on a deal that sends Dennis Schröder away? If they do, will it be during this season? All of that is up for debate but, as a thought experiment, it is certainly interesting.