A trade between the Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio Spurs makes sense
While the San Antonio Spurs quietly took care of their business, making solid draft and free agency decisions left and right, other teams across the league took the offseason by storm. Perhaps no team made more eye-popping moves than the Atlanta Hawks.
It started on draft night. Sitting at the sixth pick, the Hawks knew they were going to walk away from the draft with a good player. But I don’t know if anyone expected Onyeka Okongwu to be their man.
Given the presence of John Collins and Clint Capela on the roster, adding another big man in Okongwu seemed strange. But passing up versatile, skilled, low-risk players like Okongwu is no way to build a contender so few paid any attention.
Atlanta followed up this mildly surprising selection by adding Rajon Rondo, Danilo Gallinari, and after the league intervened in the Kings dealings with the Bucks, Bogdan Bogdanovic. All of these moves signal that the Hawks have had their fill of lottery selections and are dead set on making the playoffs this year.
The recent moves certainly do improve Atlanta’s chances of making the playoffs but they’ve also created a minutes crunch among the Hawks newcomers and the young players they’ve selected over the past three years. This is a team that might need a trade or two to alleviate pressure and secure their playoff spot.
If the Hawks decide to make a move their first call should be to the San Antonio Spurs.
San Antonio Spurs could easily swap their veterans for Hawks assets
Between Collins, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Kevin Huerter, the Hawks have acquired quite a few nice young players. And they’ve been running with them too, here’s a breakout of how much each one of the four saw the court on a per-game basis last year.
- John Collins – 33.2 minutes per game across 41 games (41 starts)
- De’Andre Hunter – 32 minutes per game across 63 games (62 starts)
- Cam Reddish – 26.7 minutes per game across 58 games (34 starts)
- Kevin Huerter – 31.4 minutes per game across 56 games (48 starts)
Now, Rondo and Okongwu probably won’t have too sizeable of roles to start out. But you’ve got to figure that Capela, who the Hawks traded for at last season’s deadline, as well as Gallinari and Bogdanovic, who were signed for $19.5 million and $18 million per year, respectively, will all have prominent roles on the team.
What does this mean for the Hawks’ young players? Likely, minute cuts and significantly fewer starts.
That’s not the ideal situation for any young player who was just getting their feet under them in the league. It’s potentially even more upsetting for a player like Collins who’s going into the final year of his rookie deal and is undoubtedly looking for a sizeable extension from Atlanta.
Unless Lloyd Pierce is able to excellently balance the minutes and egos of all the players now calling Atlanta home it’s not hard to see this getting ugly quick.
On one side of the locker room, you’ve got guys who just weeks ago thought they were the future of the team, and on the other, you’ve got the newcomers who just got considerable paydays to come carry this team back to the postseason.
And in the middle of it all, if things don’t go right, could be a whole lot of resentment and jealously.
If there is a player among the Hawks young four who is most likely to be traded, it’s probably Collins. He’s in line for a new deal soon and if the Hawks don’t want to give it to him this is a situation that could deteriorate fast.
Collins is a player that we’ve identified as a trade target for San Antonio before. His fit with the Spurs makes a lot of sense. He could give them a strong, versatile floor-spacing forward to pair with Jakob Poeltl long term and he’d make an excellent pick and roll partner with their guards.
A Collins for Aldridge swap works financially and makes sense for both teams. It gives the Hawks another big man to replace Collins but this one isn’t looking for a sizeable payday.
Yes, Aldridge is approaching unrestricted free agency and could walk after the season but if he enjoys Atlanta and believes in what their building it’s not inconceivable that he’d want to stay. The Hawks have a track record of treating veterans the right way and if Aldridge believes he can extend his career like Vince Carter did while also regularly making the playoffs why not stick around?
If the Hawks demand a first-round pick as well as Aldridge that’s a price the Spurs should be happy to meet, as long as it’s not their 2021 first-rounder.
If the San Antonio Spurs season doesn’t get off to a hot start their a prime candidate to be sellers at the trade deadline. If they find themselves in that situation they’ll be hard-pressed to find a better trade partner than the Atlanta Hawks.