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Atlanta Hawks attempting to walk tightrope at trade deadline

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The Hawks want to get better now and in the future.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Los Angeles Clippers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

With just three days left before the NBA trade deadline, the Atlanta Hawks are attempting to walk a tightrope by improving the current team while also casting an eye at the future. Mike Budenholzer recently talked about the team’s direction heading into the deadline with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Chris Vivlamore.

“I just think we are considering how we can make this team better,” Budenholzer said recently. “Is there something that makes sense for two teams, two organizations? We are always balancing the short term with the long term.”

Vivlamore reports that the team is focused on being buyers at the deadline and expects to be active. It is also important to note that being active doesn’t necessarily mean a franchise changing move. The team has been “active” for each of the last three seasons. Those deals consisted of taking on Antawn Jamison in a salary dump in 2014. Opening up a roster spot by trading first round pick Adreian Payne in 2015 and picking up Kirk Hinrich off the scrap heap last season. The Hawks have been involved in plenty of rumors along the way but they have left fans without a substantial deadline move.

Atlanta had a clear path as a seller. Players like Paul Millsap, Tim Hardaway Jr, Thabo Sefolosha have value for teams looking to improve their playoff positioning. The path is less clear with the Hawks as buyers.

The AJC reports that Atlanta has “plenty of assets” but is that really the case? Millsap is by all accounts off the table and that leaves the Hawks with a lot of expiring contracts and a plethora of draft picks. Of those picks, most are of the second round variety and the two extra first rounders that they do own have varying degrees of lottery protection. This is no longer 2010 and players on expiring deals don’t carry the same value they once did and teams invested in their future aren’t willing to part ways with picks or young players already on the roster.

Budenholzer also mentioned to the AJC that if a deal doesn’t materialize, that he is comfortable finishing the season with the current roster which in a lot of ways seems appropriate. The Hawks may not have a lot of choice.