The 76ers made a blockbuster trade about a week into the NBA season, sending James Harden to the Clippers in exchange for a bevy of role players. The Hawks were involved in multiple trade rumors this offseason, but nothing came to fruition.
Most notably, Atlanta was linked to Toronto’s Pascal Siakam, but the Raptors proved too difficult to work with to get a deal done. There were also rumors connecting the Mavericks to Clint Capela, who is inevitably going to be moved to make way for Onyeka Okongwu. The writing is on the wall for Capela after Okongwu signed a team-friendly, four-year extension a couple of weeks ago.
Whether that’s this year at the deadline or this offseason, the Hawks are seemingly setting the stage with the contract extension to move Capela. Bleacher Report’s trade hypothetical has it coming to fruition sooner than later in a deal with the Grizzlies.
Memphis Grizzlies Receive: C Clint Capela
Atlanta Hawks: PF/C Brandon Clarke, PF Jake LaRavia, 2024 first-round pick (lottery-protected)
Just days before the season began, the Grizzlies announced that starting center Steven Adams would miss the entire 2023-24 campaign to have surgery on the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. With Adams sidelined and Ja Morant still suspended, they’re off to an 0-4 start to the season.
The Grizzlies signed Bismack Biyombo to replace Adams, but that won’t be enough to turn their season around. They need to find a new starting center who can keep them in the playoff hunt until Morant can return.
Capela could become available, especially after the Hawks gave backup center Onyeka Okongwu a four-year, $62 million extension that will kick in next season.
Capela, 29, is averaging a double-double for seventh straight year with 10.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game thus far this season. He’s a strong rebounder who can protect the rim much like Adams, with both players primarily feeding off pick-and-roll-heavy point guards who find them cutting to the basket.
Clarke is currently sidelined with an Achilles injury, although he’d be a good long-term addition to the Hawks frontcourt. LaRavia was the No. 19 overall pick in the 2022 draft, and Atlanta picks up an additional first-round selection to use or dangle as trade bait in future deals.
Clarke was a former first-round pick, selected 21st overall in the 2019 cycle. He’s averaging a tick under 11 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists for his career. His three-point shooting is almost non-existent, but he’s efficient at putting the ball in the hoop and versatile defensively. Unfortunately, Clarke is still recovering from a torn Achilles in March, but he would be an attractive piece to a lot of team. I’m just not sure how he would fit on the Hawks with the emergence of Jalen Johnson, who only needs more minutes, not less.
LaRavia is the more attractive of the pair. He’s also a first-round pick and is only 22 years old after being selected 19th overall in the 2022 NBA draft. He is the younger of the two and potentially has more upside, but the prize in this potential deal is the draft capital.
The actual first-round pick isn’t that exciting. The Hawks have plenty of young pieces; in fact, if Atlanta makes any trade, it should be a consolidating move to open up minutes. What the first-round pick could be is a trade chip for another potential star to pair with Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.
That’s why this kind of move is interesting. The lottery protection is a turn-off, but if they could open up more minutes for Okongwu and parlay the pieces they receive from the Grizzlies into an upgrade elsewhere, they could be much better off.
Photographer: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire