Opinion: Hawks should cash in on Cavs’ protected 2019 pick Thursday night

Travis Schlenk inherited a team with a lot of future draft picks. Looking back now, as painful as it was to part with Kyle Korver at the time, moving him while on an expiring contract for a first-round pick can be looked back at as a no-brainer. However, it may be in the Hawks’ best interest to use that asset now rather than later in order to maximize its value.

The problem with the Cavs’ 2019 first-round pick that the Hawks acquired in that trade is that it is top 10 protected for 2019 and 2020, and if it does not vest it becomes two second rounders.

Now let’s be real: if Lebron stays in Cleveland, the Hawks will be picking in the 20’s. If he does not, the Cavs will likely rebuild like they did when he left the first time. Falling in the 10-20 range, at least next season, seems unlikely. That team is hopeless outside of Lebron James, and it would be scary to see where they would stand without him. Do not forget that even if they keep Kevin Love, he headlined a Minnesota Timberwolves team that was one of the league’s worst for years. He is not a guy who can carry a franchise. It may be in the Hawks’ best interest to throw this pick in a trade now before its value diminishes.

The best thing for the Hawks to do would be to package this pick with the 19th overall selection (and perhaps other picks) to hop back into the lottery on Thursday evening and make a second selection. A trade-up scenario involving Trae Young or Lonnie Walker has already been a topic of discussion, and there are other potential star talents that could be had in that range, such as Collin Sexton.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, though it is still early, next year’s draft class is viewed to be significantly weaker than this one.

The Hawks are likely to be very active on draft night, and you would think they will be involved in at least one trade. Look for them to be candidates to move up later in the lottery and keep an eye on them trying to spark a deal with the LA Clippers, who own the 12th and 13th selections in this draft. The time for Travis Schlenk to cash in this asset is Thursday night.

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