Before the start of last season, the Hawks believed they were going to be a playoff team. Injuries and a brutal 25-game suspension to their second-best player, John Collins, made that impossible, but when the team was 100% healthy, they didn’t look nearly as abysmal as their record. Now, they’ve added Clint Capela, have a ton of cap space to use, and also own the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft. Their goal for next season is playoffs are bust, and they expect to make some noise once they get there.
However, the plan to reach their aspirations doesn’t necessarily have to include the sixth overall pick from this year’s draft class. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Hawks are actively shopping their first-round pick in an attempt to make a push in the Eastern Conference. In O’Connor’s most recent mock draft, he has Atlanta sending the sixth overall pick to San Antonio for DeMar DeRozan and the 11th overall pick.
I’m not a huge fan of DeRozan in this era of basketball. He’s not an elite defender, and he doesn’t shoot the three-ball well enough. However, in a potential trade, this could make sense.
DeRozan has one final year on his contract remaining, and it’s a player option. Assuming he opts in, the Hawks would move down five picks and take on his nearly $30 million in salary for next season. This draft is considered very weak, and so is the free agency class. Travis Schlenk could probably find a comparable player with the 11th pick, and he picks up DeRozan on a one-year deal, which would still allow the Hawks to have plenty of cap space the following offseason when there are loads of superstar free agents.
Perhaps this isn’t the trade that comes to fruition, but the point remains the same. The Hawks are looking to make some noise in the Eastern Conference next season, and they seem to be willing to part ways with their first-round pick to do so.