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Examining potential deals for the Atlanta Hawks as the trade deadline nears

With the trade deadline looming, we dive into potential deals.

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NBA: Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NBA trade deadline is now less than two weeks away. With the Atlanta Hawks out of the Eastern Conference playoff race, plenty of contending teams will be calling in an attempt to work out deals to improve their respective clubs. Veteran players such as Dewayne Dedmon, Jeremy Lin and Kent Bazemore are sure to draw interest (if they haven’t already).

We’re firmly in the NBA’s silliest of silly seasons, so with that in mind, let’s take a look at a few potential deals that might make sense for Atlanta and a handful of other clubs around the league, both from a financial and basketball perspective.

Atlanta Hawks trade Dewayne Dedmon to the Portland Trail Blazers for Meyers Leonard and a 2021 lottery-protected first-round pick (pick rolls to two second-round picks in 2024 and 2025 if not conveyed by 2023).

Dedmon would instantly slide into Portland’s backup center role and upgrade that second-unit significantly with his shooting range. He would also give them more flexibility late in games, with the ability to create more spacing for Damian Lillard with him at center instead of Jusuf Nurkic, should the Trail Blazers want to go with a different option in the middle. Dedmon is shooting a career-high 37.7 percent from three-point range on what is also a career-high 3.1 attempts per game. He has established himself as one of the better shooting big men in the game, while also retaining the defensive acumen necessary from a center.

Atlanta would presumably add Leonard to its bench for the remainder of the season. He’s owed over $10 million again for 2019-20, so it’s also possible that he would be a part of their rotation going into next season, depending upon their other acquisitions and overall roster makeup.

Leonard is averaging 5.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per game across 14.5 minutes in 2018-19. For his career, he has been relatively disappointing for a lottery pick (11th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft), but if the Hawks can get back a first-round pick, it’s probably worth taking him on. Like most of these trades, the incentive for Atlanta will be to take on a bloated contract in order to secure a better asset from another team.

Atlanta Hawks receive: Courtney Lee (from New York), the Knicks’ top-18 protected 2020 first-round pick (rolls into Charlotte’s 2020 and 2021 second-round picks), Knicks’ 2020 second-round pick (from Philadelphia) and the Detroit Pistons’ 2021 second-round pick (from Philadelphia)

New York Knicks receive: Mike Muscala (from Philadelphia)

Philadelphia 76ers receive: Dewayne Dedmon (from Atlanta) and Tyler Dorsey (from Atlanta)

There’s obviously a lot going on here, but there’s a reason for all of it. Dedmon represents an upgrade over Muscala on Philadelphia’s second unit, the Knicks are trying to free up cap space for now and the future, and the Hawks simply want assets. This puts the Hawks in a situation to capitalize off of two other teams wants and add on some more future assets.

Lee is owed ~$25 million through 2020, and the Knicks have big free agency dreams both this and next summer. Muscala is on a one-year deal, so taking him on doesn't effect those plans for New York. As a note, Atlanta is unable to take Muscala back directly because they just traded him to Philadelphia last summer. With an abundance of big names on the market both this summer and next, the Knicks will be looking for avenues to shed Lee’s contract.

The move would set Atlanta up to dominate draft boards in the near and not-so-near future. Having multiple picks in both 2019 and 2020 would set them up with the flexibility to get essentially wherever they want on the draft board in both years, barring maybe the No. 1 slot in the 2019 NBA Draft.

It’s fair to be skeptical that anyone will give up the right to draft Zion Williamson with the No. 1 pick this spring, but nonetheless, this move would bolster Atlanta’s pick arsenal and set them up to make future moves as they see fit. Dorsey would have to go to Philadelphia to make the math work for the Hawks, but the 76ers would likely opt to complete this trade between 10-day contracts for Corey Brewer, taking on Dorsey into their final roster spot before potentially cutting him to bring Brewer back.

Atlanta Hawks trade Jeremy Lin to the New Orleans Pelicans for Solomon Hill, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick.

Adding Lin to the mix adds some depth to the bench for New Orleans, as incumbent point-guard Elfrid Payton has struggled to stay healthy this season. Lin would provide an upgrade to the point-guard situation while also adding flexibility to the roster for head coach Alvin Gentry.

The Hawks would obviously only being doing this deal to pick up the extra draft selections. Hill (owed ~$12.7 million for the 2018-19 and $13.2 million for 2019-20) is a negative value contract, meaning that the Hawks would need significant compensation to take him back, particularly when remembering his lofty salary for next season.

The 27-year-old forward averages 3.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game across 20.9 minutes for New Orleans this season and has shot 30 percent from three-point-range on 60 attempts. The Hawks would have to take Hill back to balance Lin’s ~$13.7 contract, then would have to evaluate the potential options.

Atlanta Hawks trade Jeremy Lin to the Sacramento Kings for Zach Randolph, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2022 top-40 protected second-rounder.

The Kings have reported interest in veteran point-guard help to back up De’Aaron Fox, as they sit only two games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Lin would be a solid addition to a mostly youthful Kings roster, providing play-making and scoring to the second-unit.

Randolph would only be in the deal to make the salaries match, and hasn’t appeared in a game for the Kings this season. Atlanta may choose to keep him on the roster until the end of the season, cut/waive him, or they could try to workout a small buy-out to save some cash with the veteran big man if he thinks he can catch on with another team. Regardless, I’d be shocked if Randolph ever suited up and played actual minutes for the Hawks in this scenario.

Precisely which 2020 second-rounder would also be up for debate, as the Kings hold a few of them, with picks coming from Detroit and Miami in addition to their own.

Atlanta Hawks trade Kent Bazemore to the New Orleans Pelicans for Solomon Hill, Kenrich Williams, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick.

The Pelicans roster is also lacking depth in the shooting department, and despite having Anthony Davis as the anchor, they’ve been terrible defensively. The Pelicans rank 26th in the NBA with a defensive rating of 111.6 for this season, just behind the Hawks who come in at 111.4. While the Pelicans are 12th in three-point-percentage (35.8 percent), they only rank 22nd in makes per game at 10.1. Bazemore’s skills lineup perfectly with some of the weaknesses of New Orleans, and with him being locked up for next season, New Orleans may be interested in putting him with Jrue Holiday and Davis for the next year and a half.

Hill is again in this deal due to the fact that he is owed ~$12.7 million for the 2018-19 and ~$13.2 million for 2019-20. His contract helps offset almost all that’s needed for New Orleans to add Bazemore to the books.

Kenrich Williams is a 24-year-old rookie out of TCU. He has appeared in only 13 games for the Pelicans this season and it’s mostly been in a mop-up type of role, as he’s averaging only 6.5 minutes per game across those 13 contests. Atlanta would have to open up a roster spot to take on Williams, but they could do that through either including Tyler Dorsey in the trade or moving on from either Dorsey or Daniel Hamilton.

Atlanta Hawks trade Kent Bazemore to the Houston Rockets for Brandon Knight and a 2020 lottery-protected first-round pick (pick rolls into two second-round picks in 2023 and 2024 if not conveyed by 2022).

Bazemore is beloved in Atlanta, but the fact that he 1) wasn’t brought in by this management regime and 2) potentially lost his starting job to Kevin Huerter in recent weeks makes him relatively expendable going forward. The fact that he’s an interchangeable piece who can start or come off of the bench and the fact that also a great locker room presence might be enough to keep him around, but he only has one more year on his contract after this season and picking up a first-round pick might be too much to turn down for Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk.

Houston’s injury-depleted roster resembles only a shell of the juggernaut it was last season, so Bazemore would be a welcome addition. His defensive versatility would also fit well next to James Harden, as Bazemore has proven he is capable of guarding both guard spots, as well as wings in the right situations. His shooting prowess from behind-the-arc (35.6 percent from three-point-range for his career) fits in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s spaced out system and the Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has been linked to the Atlanta swingman for years now.

Knight represents the biggest contract that Houston currently isn’t getting much production from, and it’s essentially necessary from a cap perspective that he’s moved if the Rockets are taking on Bazemore. Knight could go elsewhere in a three team deal, Atlanta could seek a buy-out with him so he can go elsewhere, or simply waive him. It would be weird if he ever suited up for the Hawks to me, but I suppose crazier things have happened. Should Atlanta make a separate deal involving Lin, then Knight could theoretically slide into Lin’s spot as the backup point guard to Trae Young, at least through the end of this season.

Atlanta Hawks trade Taurean Prince to the Detroit Pistons for a 2020 top-10 protected first-round pick (pick rolls into top-7 protected in 2021 then unprotected in 2022) and Glenn Robinson III.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Hawks had discussed (subscription required) moving Prince, which came as a surprise to some. The facts are, Prince is almost 25 years old and doesn’t snugly fit the timeline of Atlanta’s other young players. He is only two years from restricted free agency, so the Hawks may choose to cash him in for other assets now rather than worry about having to pay him or losing him to a crazy offer sheet for nothing in the summer of 2021.

Detroit is currently 1.5 games out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and with Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond healthy, they will probably be looking to bolster their roster for a playoff push. Prince represents a good fit for them as he still has two more years of control after this season, giving Griffin and Drummond another perimeter weapon to space the floor for the foreseeable future.

Robinson III is already buried on the Detroit bench, so he becomes even more expendable with the addition of Prince to the Piston rotation. Robinson is signed for next year as well, and could certainly stick around in Atlanta as wing depth following the move.

Only being owed a little over $4 million next season (with a team option to boot), Robinson’s cap hit shouldn’t be a major concern to Atlanta in 2019 or 2020 and, frankly, they should be happy to take him back if they’re able to get back a future first-round pick. Robinson is averaging 4.1 points and 1.3 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game and has struggled with his shot from all levels this season, but perhaps a change of scenery would do him some good.

All of these trades check out from a cap perspective, which is often times the most difficult part of trading in the middle of the season. The lack of flexibility really limits teams’ options and only a handful of franchises even make sense for a player such as Lin, due to his relatively high cap hit and the lack of contending teams with an expendable player in a similar price range.

The Hawks could certainly choose to keep all of these players, but I think it would come as surprise to most if they didn’t deal at least one of them, if not multiple. Stay tuned for more Hawks deadline coverage as Feb. 7 approaches.