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Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk made it clear that his team is certainly listening to trade offers ahead of the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline. The team is clearly in rebuilding mode and almost certainly won’t make the playoffs this season, which makes Atlanta one of a handful of sure sellers.
The Hawks were sellers last year and most people thought they would trade Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova at the deadline, but they didn’t because they couldn’t find the right deal to make. Schlenk repeated that the Hawks aren’t going to make a deal this year if it doesn’t make sense for them.
“We’re looking for future assets,” Schlenk said. “We already have five picks in this draft and more than likely, two firsts and three seconds. Any of the deals we do will be future assets or a deal that maybe will increase our (cap) flexibility moving forward. We’re still on the same trajectory. We’re certainly listening to a lot of stuff, but we’re not going to do a bad deal or do a deal that will hamper our objectives.”
Head coach Lloyd Pierce said he has addressed the team about the deadline and how rumors are going to start flying, which they have. Kent Bazemore, Dewayne Dedmon, Jeremy Lin and Taurean Prince all have been mentioned in trade possibilities.
“We’ve come out and said, ‘Hey, the deadline is on the seventh, and rumors are about to start happening. Jeremy, you were in a rumor. What rumor were you in?’ ” Pierce told The Athletic. “When you just put it out there and talk about it, there are no secrets. There’s no need to not talk about it. What happens is when you say, ‘Hey, Jeremy, are you in a trade rumor?’ Jeremy said he’s been in trade rumors every year of his career. You just have to diffuse the situation. They deal with it. They talk to their agents, and as soon as rumors start coming out, there’s, of course, some concern. But once you tackle it and get ahead of the story, you kind of lighten the mood. We talk about all of those things.”
Here’s a look at the Hawks’ roster and the likelihood each player gets moved.
Not going anywhere
John Collins: Collins is a borderline All-Star this season and one of the foundational pieces of this young Hawks team. He’s about as close as one can get to being an untouchable asset on this team. In the middle of his second season, Collins is averaging more than 18 points and 10 rebounds per game. He finished with a career-high 35 points against Chicago on Wednesday night.
Trae Young: There’s obviously a segment of the fanbase that always will look at Young with a negative slant because he was traded for rookie wunderkind Luka Doncic. Like it or not, Young is one of the foundational pieces of the Hawks moving forward. In his past 15 games, Young has averaged 17 points and seven assists per game. His shooting splits are starting to show improvement, as he’s shooting 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from 3-point range. He may never be as good as Doncic, but Young’s elite playmaking abilities certainly make him a valuable asset.
Kevin Huerter: Huerter has been one of the positive surprises for the Hawks and this year’s rookie class so far. Huerter replaced Bazemore in the starting lineup in December and certainly has shown he’s deserving of a spot in the starting five.
What would be the point?
Vince Carter: Carter decided to sign a one-year deal with the Hawks this past offseason over contenders because he wanted to get some playing time instead of being someone at the end of the bench for a contender. He also chose Atlanta for broadcasting purposes given that Turner’s studios are in the city. The only way Carter doesn’t remain on the Hawks’ roster by the end of the year is if he decides this is his final season and wants to retire elsewhere. But he has given no indication that this is it for him.
DeAndre’ Bembry: In his third season, Bembry has shown that he belongs. He has developed into arguably the Hawks’ best defender and is now starting in place of Prince. Bembry is probably not a part of the Hawks’ future plans as far as seeing him in the starting lineup, but he has shown that he’s a solid piece and someone they should keep because he is a quality rotational player who can come in and offer lockdown defense and some baskets at the rim. He’s still ineffective as a shooter and turns the ball over too much, but it’s hard to see the Hawks parting ways with him.
Omari Spellman: Spellman has not shown much this season, unlike the other two rookies. It has been a struggle for him in his adjustment to the league. He went from 254 pounds at the draft combine to 293 pounds in December. He’s back down to 270, but he still needs to get in better shape. The Hawks like that Spellman can play the five and space the floor. He’s already one of the best shooting bigs in the league as he ranks in the 78th percentile at 38 percent from 3, per Cleaning The Glass. As he is now, it’s hard to see him being an every-game starter but, like Bembry, Spellman can be a good rotational player down the road, and that’s why the team wouldn’t be willing to give up on him this soon.
Prince: The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Wednesday that the Hawks have engaged in trade talks with teams regarding Prince. It’s not terribly surprising given that Prince wasn’t a Schlenk draft selection, so there’s no personal tie there, and Prince just hasn’t fit what the team wants to do on offense. Prince settles for too many questionable shots and kills ball movement. The team is 4.6 points worse when he’s on the floor on offense, per Cleaning The Glass. It would not be a shock to see him get traded, but a move around the draft would be a likelier option. Prince is on his rookie deal and won’t be a restricted free agent until after the following season, so there’s certainly value there for other teams looking for a shooter.
“Taurean is one of the best catch-and-shoot players in this league,” Schlenk told The Athletic. He’s a valuable commodity and has the ability to be a very good defensive player.”
Tyler Dorsey: Dorsey hasn’t been able to carve out a role for himself. He has been limited to garbage time minutes. He’s making just more than $1 million this year and could certainly be filler for any deal the Hawks make. He’s a restricted free agent this upcoming offseason, but this is probably Dorsey’s final year in Atlanta.
Daniel Hamilton: Like Dorsey, Hamilton is also a restricted free agent this upcoming summer and has a similar deal to Dorsey’s. Hamilton isn’t a part of the team’s future plans and could also be used as filler for any deal the Hawks make.
Justin Anderson: Anderson is a restricted free agent this upcoming offseason and is currently making $2.5 million. He doesn’t play often, but he has shown that he does have some value, especially on the defensive side of the floor. It’s easy to see the Hawks including him in deals, especially if the trade partner is looking for a defense-first wing.
Alex Len: Len added a 3-point shot to his repertoire this past offseason, but he hasn’t been too effective when shooting them. He’s under 30 percent from 3. Len has had moments where he looks great, and you could see the potential when he was drafted by Phoenix, and then there are moments where you wonder why he’s even in the game. He’s too inconsistent as a player, but he does have value for teams looking for a big who can run the floor and play solid enough defense. Len is signed through the 2019 season at just more than $4 million per year, which does make him someone teams could take a chance on.
Would like to move them somehow
Bazemore: The Hawks have shopped Bazemore for more than a year now. He’s making $18 million this year and has a player option for $19 million next season that he’s leaning toward opting in when that time comes. Bazemore has been vocal to The Athletic about his desire to end his career with the Hawks. He doesn’t want to be traded, but if the team can find a suitable deal for Bazemore, he won’t be with the organization by the end of the season.
“Regardless of what happens, I’ll be ready,” Bazemore said. “When I first got in the league, vets told me to stay ready so I won’t have to get ready. I worked my butt off every day (with Golden State), and I got traded to L.A. I got thrown in the fire and was ready to hold my own. That’s the mentality I’ve had. I have a contract that’s on the bigger end. There are so many variables that go into it. I’m going where the wind blows. I’ve learned to kind of be like water and let life take its course and just adapt to situations. I’m a positive person. I feel like the work I’ve put in here is showing, and I’m comfortable here. I sleep well at night.”
Bazemore has been out for three weeks now with a sprained ankle, but that won’t hinder the team’s ability to find a trade partner. The only hindrance to moving Bazemore is, as he said, his contract is on the higher end. The Hawks will have to find a trade partner who can match salaries. Houston makes a ton of sense here with Brandon Knight’s large contract.
Miles Plumlee: Plumlee is making $12 million this year and next. He barely plays for the team and has little on-court value for the Hawks. The problem is his salary. Shams reported that the Hawks have talked to Memphis about a possible deal regarding Chandler Parsons. Parsons is dead money right now for Memphis. He’s owed more than $24 million this year and more than $25 million next season. Plumlee’s contract would have to be attached to another player (like Lin if the Grizzlies decide to move on from Mike Conley) for it to work. Also, the Hawks likely would ask for a future draft pick from the Grizzlies.
Most likely to go
Lin: After injuries that ended his season two years in a row, Lin has bounced back and played some of the best basketball of his career. Lin currently has career-highs in field goal percentage, two-point field goal percentage, effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage. The Hawks were criticized when they originally made the trade this past offseason with Brooklyn, especially during the start of the season when Lin virtually was unplayable. Now, the Hawks could flip Lin for future assets.
Much like Bazemore, Lin’s contract isn’t the easiest to trade at $12.5 million with a 10 percent trade kicker. But there are several contending teams that are looking for a quality point guard. Lin is certainly not a part of the Hawks’ future plans so moving him makes a ton of sense.
Dedmon: The Hawks have been reluctant in the past to part ways with Dedmon, but doing so now would make a lot of sense for the team. Dedmon has turned himself into a coveted stretch-five who can play effectively on both ends of the floor. He’s averaging more than three 3s per game this season and shooting 38 percent from behind the arc. Dedmon may not be starter-worthy for lots of teams, but he certainly would be one of the best backup centers in the league. Dedmon’s cap figure of just more than $7.2 million on an expiring deal makes him that much more likely to be moved if the right deal is presented.
(Photo of Jeremy Lin (7): Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)