Every NBA fan’s favorite holiday before Christmas (or Hannukah!) has arrived: NBA trade season. As of December 15th, players who signed contracts earlier this summer became available for trades. To provide some perspective, 40% of the league’s players became free agents last summer, meaning numerous players entered the trade market. Contending teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, for example, may aim to add a supplementary defensive piece (everyone knows they want Andre Igoudala) to fortify their defense. The Bucks, on the other hand, may desire additional scoring off the bench (see trade scenario c).
The Atlanta Hawks, conversely, sit at 7-28 and hold the league’s worst record. After the New York Knicks’ hodgepodge roster scored 143 points against the Hawks, it’s clear this team needs defensive help, a starting center, a true backup point guard, and an extra veteran presence in the locker room. Below, I’ve outlined three moves the Atlanta Hawks could make before the February 6th deadline.
OKC Adds a Wing, Atlanta Beefs Up Its Interior
Oklahoma City Receives Deandre’ Bembry, Bruno Fernando, and Nets 1st Rd. Pick
Atlanta Receives Nerlens Noel, Mike Muscala, ‘24 2nd Rd. Pick (Memphis)
Through this move, the OKC Thunder improve their wing depth, net yet another pick, and acquire a project in Bruno Fernando. Bembry, who has averaged 1.3 steals this year, provides a positive defensive presence and consistent energy for the Thunder. The Thunder would hope Bembry is an upgrade over their current shooting guards, Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo.
Although I’m sure the Hawks would be elated for Muscala’s reunion with the team, Nerlens Noel’s presence would strengthen the Hawks’ interior defense. Atlanta could pair Noel with Collins in the backcourt, giving Trae Young two athletic and rim-running big men. If Noel can replicate productivity similar to his sophomore season (11.1pts/8.1reb/1.8 stls/1.5blks), his $2 million contract could be a huge bargain.
Atlanta Finally Gets Their Backup Point Guard
New York Receives Alex Len and Hawks ‘22 2nd Rd. Pick
Atlanta Receives Dennis Smith. Jr.
Dennis Smith Jr. has been unproductive as a member of the New York Knicks. A lot of that lack of productivity falls on the Knicks coaching staff and front office, which came into the season with 3 point guards, all of whom seem to play at similar levels. Sources have also mentioned the Knicks want to move one of their point guards. Although it’s unlikely, New York might make this trade. After all, they seem to love big men who believe they can shoot.
Atlanta takes a low-risk, potentially high-reward move with the addition of DSJ. Although DSJ has struggled to regain his confidence since his rookie year, restarting with the Hawks’ reputable development staff may prompt his resurgence. The Hawks could make DSJ a prominent role player, providing their first or second unit with an athletic and explosive ballhandler to off-load some of Young’s ball-handling responsibilities.
Jabari Returns to Milwaukee, The Lopez Bros. Separate
Milwaukee Receives Alex Len, Jabari Parker, Hawks ‘22 2nd Rd. Pick
Atlanta Receives Brook Lopez
Jabari Parker can finally return to Milwaukee, where he, Khris Middleton, and Giannis form the three-headed superteam he always dreamed of. No, I’m completely joking about that, but Parker would provide the Bucks with an additional scoring punch off the bench. Alex Len could serve as their Brook Lopez 2.0, hitting the occasional three and playing some improved defense this season.
The Hawks would relish having Brook Lopez on their roster. Over the past few years, he has restructured his game, developing into a lethal stretch-5 player. Lopez would give Trae Young a reliable option behind the 3-point line and add a positive interior presence. Although Lopez’s $12 million contract takes him through 2023, he has been durable, playing 81 games last season and 74 games the season before.