Trade deadline season officially kicked off last week for the Hawks when they dealt Cam Reddish to the Knicks for Kevin Knox and a protected first-round pick. To many, the move was puzzling, as they still believe Reddish is a player that could blossom into an All-Star caliber player. So naturally, it is assumed among most Hawks circles that this move was only made as a prequel to something much bigger. There’s no way Schlenk would give away the beloved Cam Reddish for a late first-round pick and a player that couldn’t even touch the floor for the Knicks, right? He must have another move in mind.
I’m not so sure about that. I do believe reports that everything is on the table for the Hawks; however, in Reddish’s case, I think Schlenk took the best deal he could find for a disgruntled player. Following the trade, it was revealed that Reddish had requested out of Atlanta months ago and that the Hawks always planned on moving him once their needs were met. Perhaps Schlenk finds a way to parlay that first-round pick into something better, but for now, I don’t think this deal was anything more than the Hawks acquiring whatever they could for a player who didn’t want to be there.
With that being said, I do expect Schlenk and company to be extraordinarily active leading up to the trade deadline. This team has too much talent to be eight games under .500; tweaks must be made. However, is now the time for the Hawks to push their chips in and go after an All-Star caliber player like Ben Simmons or CJ McCollum?
I don’t think so. As I discussed last week in my rapid reaction to the Cam Reddish trade, sometimes a young team overachieving, which the Hawks did last season, can be a curse. Now, expectations are set too high, and it can force GMs to make substantial changes way too early.
Given Travis Schlenk isn’t anywhere close to the hot seat, I’m hoping he will avoid this trap. The Hawks need to take a good look in the mirror and evaluate where they realistically sit. Is this really a team that is close to contending for a championship? I don’t think anybody watching the product on the floor can say that. Can the Hawks surprise one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference in the playoffs? Absolutely. That’s the power of having a superstar like Trae Young, but NBA championship aspirations are far-fetched at this point.
Unless a deal for an All-Star comes through that is too good to pass up, the Hawks should continue to focus on developing their young core. Despite the success this group has had, the primary pieces of this team have played together sparingly. We’ve yet to see what this group can do when they are all healthy, making it hard to determine which young pieces can be traded away with minimal impact.
As far as trade targets are concerned, the Hawks should be looking for defensive-minded players that bring energy and experience to the locker room. On top of being one of the worst defensive teams in the Association, this team is lacking life and leadership. A blockbuster trade isn’t necessary for the Hawks to achieve their goals; all this team needs is a little luck in the injury department and some direction.