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NBA Draft: Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks linked in lottery trade rumor

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NBA: Atlanta Hawks-Press Conference Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

With less than three weeks to the 2019 NBA Draft, the rumor mill isn’t quite churning at full speed but, as of Friday morning, things are underway for the Atlanta Hawks. Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN, when examining what the New York Knicks might do with the No. 3 overall pick, reported that a deal involving Atlanta’s pair of lottery picks (No. 8 and No. 10) is “under consideration” at this juncture.

New York has explored the possibility of trading back in the lottery, sources told ESPN, perhaps to acquire pieces that better complement potential high-volume All-Star free agents (such as Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving). Trading the No. 3 pick for the Atlanta Hawks’ two first-rounders (Nos. 8 and 10) is under consideration by the Knicks, one source said.

For additional context, the report indicates that such a deal likely wouldn’t transpire until the draft was actively underway.

This is a similar package to the one Dallas used to move up in last year’s draft -- trading the No. 5 pick and a top-five protected pick (which ended up being No. 10) to select Luka Doncic at No. 3. A move like this likely wouldn’t happen until the draft was actually underway, as both teams would want to know which players are actually available with the No. 8 pick before consummating a trade.

Under normal circumstances, a trade like this would make perfect sense, as the Hawks have five draft picks and could be looking to maximize their assets in pursuit of a single player. However, the 2019 class is not star-laden in the way that some others have been (including 2018) and the general consensus indicates that a package of 8/10 might even be an overpay to jump up the board in this particular draft. As an addendum, Ian Begley of SNY reports that “any potential trade between the Knicks and the Hawks involving their first-round picks is not currently under ‘serious consideration’ by either side,” citing a league source.

It isn’t clear by ESPN’s reporting who the Hawks might be looking to target, though the team has been linked to Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver and Duke’s Cameron Reddish at times during the pre-draft process. Beyond that, ESPN’s piece examines the placement of Duke’s R.J. Barrett, who some view as the No. 3 overall prospect available.

From a value standpoint, it may not be the best investment to turn a pair of lottery picks into the No. 3 overall selection but, if the Hawks were to fall in love with a single player that likely wouldn’t slip to No. 8, the rationale makes sense. Only time will tell as to whether this hypothetical — one that would also create an additional $1.26 million in salary cap space for Atlanta — will come to fruition.

Stay tuned.