The 2021 NBA trade deadline arrives on Thursday, March 25. As such, the rumor mill is absolutely churning, and the Atlanta Hawks are seemingly in the mix.
In fact, a bevy of new reports arrived on Monday morning, and many players were involved, both in potentially coming and going. Shams Charania of The Athletic dipped his toe into the water with a few different nuggets as part of his “Inside Pass” column.
Though Charania’s reporting doesn’t express a lot of detail in what the Hawks would be sending out in various trades, he links Atlanta to potential pursuits of both Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball and Celtics guard Marcus Smart.
Charania says the Hawks “have expressed interest” in Smart, who is under contract through the 2021-22 season at a reasonable cost. Smart is a tremendous defender who has improved his perimeter shooting, and he is also a solid secondary playmaker with the ability to scale in the playoffs. As of now, it is unclear what it would cost to lure him away from Boston, but Smart makes $13.4 million this season, so salary matching would pose a potential hurdle. Boston does have a large trade exception, however, and they have potential interest in Bogdan Bogdanovic, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.
From there, Charania reports that the Hawks are “expected to show interest” in Ball. That is also reported in O’Connor’s column (linked above), and The Ringer reports that “talks with Atlanta have revolved around Cam Reddish.” It would be interesting to see if a 1-on-1 swap were possible, though the Hawks have valued Reddish at a high level since well before the 2019 draft.
A former No. 2 overall pick, Ball is a talented player that is coming into his own this season with the Pelicans. That includes career-best marks in scoring (14.2 points per game) and three-point shooting (38.5 percent on 7.5 attempts per game), and Ball is a tremendous ball mover and an above-average defender. Like John Collins, however, Ball is entering restricted free agency after the season and will command a hefty sum on his next contract.
Among additional players that the Hawks are now linked to is Raptors wing Norman Powell. Powell has a looming player option for the 2021-22 season — even if he is expected to opt out if he can maintain his current level of play — and he is a high-end shot-maker, averaging 19.6 points per game and shooting 44.4 percent from three-point distance. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report includes Atlanta as a team linked to Powell in trade talks, and he also reports that the Hawks could be looking for an overall wing upgrade.
“The Hawks have made Bogdan Bogdanovic and Cam Reddish available, sources said, as the front office is purportedly searching to upgrade its crowded wing rotation.”
In addition, Fischer notes the Hawks as a “potential suitor to keep an eye on” for Rockets guard Victor Oladipo.
Fischer isn’t the only one bringing up Bogdanovic as a potential outgoing piece, as both O’Connor and Charania noted interest elsewhere in the veteran guard. Bogdanovic was inked to a four-year, $72 million offer sheet that features a fourth-year player option before this season, and that would seemingly illustrate a long-term commitment from Atlanta. Still, there could be smoke, and Charania reports that the Warriors have “shown interest” in Bogdanovic.
Finally, there is the looming matter of Collins and his potential trade market. Collins has been heavily discussed for weeks and months, especially after the two sides did not reach a rookie-scale contract extension. Those rumblings are (predictably) heating up before the deadline, even if that can easily be explained by the deadline itself.
On one hand, Zach Lowe of ESPN indicates that he “would place the odds of any Collins trade as something like 70-30 against” as of Monday morning. He accurately notes that the Hawks are likely to get worse in the present if they deal Collins and indicates that Atlanta “will not shoot this roster in the foot in exchange for future assets unless they hit an incredible jackpot.”
On the other, Sam Amick and Jared Weiss of The Athletic report that Collins’ market is “heating up more than ever” while linking him to Boston. O’Connor reports interest from the Celtics, Kings, Mavericks, Pistons, and Timberwolves.
Collins is certainly a player worth pursuing for other NBA teams, especially for clubs that will not have the projected salary cap space to sign him to an offer sheet this summer. One challenge, discussed ad nauseum in this space, is that Collins is making little more than $4 million this season, leading to potential salary-matching challenges. Beyond that, he is a player that checks many boxes for the current Hawks team, including the ability to act as a backup center option in addition to his starting power forward role.
As of now, though, the Hawks seem to be asking for a lot — one example being The Athletic reporting Atlanta seeking Jaylen Brown in talks with Boston — and that is the tact that Travis Schlenk and company should be taking for a 23-year-old player entering restricted free agency.
All in all, there isn’t one singular rumor that is popping to the forefront, at least at the time of this post. It seems safe to project that things will be quite busy in the coming days, though, and the Hawks could be juggling many offers between now and Thursday afternoon.