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Breaking down the Atlanta Hawks trade for Richard Jefferson and Kay Felder

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Why the team would trade for two guys and immediately cut them.

NBA: Preseason-Atlanta Hawks at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Reports came out earlier today that the Atlanta Hawks traded for Richard Jefferson and Kay Felder from the Cleveland Cavaliers, along with two second-round picks and cash, in exchange for two European prospects in Dimitrios Agravanis and Sergii Gladyr. Neither Agravanis nor Gladyr are likely to ever come over to the NBA, though Agravanis is just 22. The Hawks will immediately waive Jefferson and Felder, which begs the question: why even do this?

Well, the Hawks are essentially getting those two second-round picks for free. The cash received from Cleveland will presumably cover most, if not all, of the cost of paying Jefferson and Felder the roughly $3 million in guaranteed money they are owed, so the Hawks are no worse for wear there. The two European prospects Atlanta sent out have very little actual value outside of trades like this, so they’re not giving up anything, and the two second-rounders add more ammunition to a team looking to build through the draft for the next few years.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the two picks Atlanta receives will be the worse of the Timberwolves and the Lakers pick in 2019 and the Trail Blazers pick in 2020. The pick from Portland is protected from 31-55 so it’s unlikely that one will convey, but the Minnesota/Los Angeles pick should have some value. Moreover, adding more picks to the arsenal can sweeten the pot on any future trades Travis Schlenk and company make.

It’s not a particularly sexy trade, but these little moves to add future draft picks without having to part with anything of value is how rebuilding teams can accelerate that process and take advantage of teams in luxury tax hell to extract resources.