As the calendar inches closer to the February 7th trade deadline, teams around the league are taking inventory of their roster and trying to decide whether or not they are in a position to make a move.
The Atlanta Hawks find themselves approaching the deadline as sellers. With a rebuild in full force, the Hawks front office is looking to the future. That means veterans and players on expiring deals are up for grabs if the right offer crosses their desk.
One player that potentially holds more value to another franchise than Atlanta is backup point guard Jeremy Lin. Lin was signed as a free agent to provide Trae Young with a capable and experienced player to help Young transition to the NBA in his first season. Lin’s connection with first-year Hawks head coach, Lloyd Pierce made him a target for Atlanta. Lin had a rough start to begin the season, but has turned it around and is someone Pierce trusts to act as a coach on the floor during games.
However, with Young playing so well as a rookie and Lin’s contract expiring at the end of the season now is the time for the Hawks to explore what assets they could possibly get in return for the veteran point guard.
As teams prepare for the stretch run to get into the playoffs, there are some that could potentially use a player of Lin’s ability to shore up a hole in their roster. For Atlanta, their interest should be in attempting to acquire as many future assets to help cement the rebuild they’re currently undergoing.
The Hawks should be prioritizing things like draft picks, cap space, and young talent in any deal they make leading up to the February 7 trade deadline.
Let’s take at a few mock trade ideas and dissect whether or not they would make sense for Atlanta.
OFFER: Sacramento Kings send F Zach Randolph to the Atlanta Hawks for G Jeremy Lin
The Western Conference playoff race is likely to come down to the final games of the year. Heading into All-Star break, there are 13 teams with realistic chances of claiming one of the eight playoff spots. One of those teams is the surprising Sacramento Kings.
The Kings currently are 25-24 on the year and are tied for ninth with the Los Angeles Lakers. Behind coming-of-age seasons from De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, Sacramento is having their best season since the cowbell days in Arco Arena.
Despite their young backcourt leading the way, the Kings don’t have any true proven depth at guard coming off the bench–particularly at point guard. Dave Joerger has tried using Yogi Ferrell and Frank Mason (even some Iman Shumpert) when Fox is on the bench, but if this team really wants to get into the postseason they’ll need to add someone.
Enter Lin. Lin would be an immediate upgrade and could even play some minutes alongside Fox as he has experience sharing the floor with another point guard.
In return, the Hawks get the expiring contract of Zach Randolph. Much like the Vince Carter acquisition, bringing in Randolph is more about being able to show the young guys the dedication and effort it takes to sustain a long career in the league. It helps that Randolph and Carter played together in Sacramento last season too.
While trading a rotation player away for someone who isn’t likely to get off the bench isn’t great roster building, but with Jaylen Adams success in the NBA Gatorade League and Daniel Hamilton playing above expectations, now is the time to give those guys a shot to prove their worth being part of this team for the long haul.
DEAL OR NO DEAL?
OFFER: Portland Trail Blazers send C Meyers Leonard & G Wade Baldwin to the Atlanta Hawks for G Jeremy Lin
For the Portland Trail Blazers, their highly-talented backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have been the catalyst in turning them back into a perennial playoff contender. Though the duo hasn’t had much postseason success Portland seems more likely to add pieces around them as opposed to blowing it up.
Much like the Kings, the Trail Blazers have yet to find a consistent third guard to work in tandem with their star duo. Lin would provide just that for them and allow for Portland to have a reliable second ball handler on the floor while one of Lillard or McCollum rests.
In return, Portland really doesn’t have much of the things that hit the checklist for the Hawks that was brought up earlier in the article. Meyers Leonard and Wade Baldwin are more for salary-matching purposes than being players that the Hawks would truly go after. Leonard brings a second year at $10 million on his contract–with Atlanta trying desperately to unload Miles Plumlee’s $12.5 million salary adding more dead money to the center position is unlikely.
Baldwin is a former first-round pick, drafted 17th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2016. He quickly fell out of favor with the Grizzlies and made his way back into the league with productive play in the G-League, but hasn’t really attributed much in his second stint in the NBA.
If Travis Schlenke is even going to give this proposed deal a second glance, the Trail Blazers would definitely have to add on draft compensation. However, that’s where things get tricky. One tough stretch and Portland could drop from having home court to fighting for a playoff spot (they’re currently 2.5 games of the eighth seed). Would a lottery protected first in a supposedly weaker 2019 draft be enough or would Schlenke look to add more picks to 2020 which looks to be shaping up as a deeper draft?
DEAL OR NO DEAL?
OFFER: Philadelphia 76ers send G Markelle Fultz & G Furkan Korkmaz to the Atlanta Hawks for G Jeremy Lin
Here’s where things get interesting. Markelle Fultz is a talented basketball player…when healthy. He hasn’t been at any point during his first two NBA seasons and it’s made his standing as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers murky after they traded up to the number one slot in 2017 to select Fultz out of Washington.
With Ben Simmons firmly in place as the point guard of the present and the future for the Sixers, the vision was for Fultz to operate both on and off the ball in Philly. Listed at 6-foot-4, with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, Fultz has the measurables to play either guard position and has shown to be a sticky defender in his short time in the league.
Korkmaz is more than just a throw-in, he’s a high-level (yet streaky) outside shooter who just happens to be buried behind J.J. Redick and Landry Shamet in Brett Brown’s rotation. Bringing him into Atlanta before he gets the chance to hit restricted free agency gives Lloyd Pierce and the staff about 30 games to see if he’s a fit for what they’re building with the Hawks.
The question becomes how much do the Sixers expect back for their former number one overall pick. While Lin would definitely help solidify their backup point guard spot, he’s still a career journeyman and no matter how well he fits it is unlikely that any fanbase thinks a player like that alone is worthy of a player that was taken at the top of the draft (especially one that has turned out as many studs as the 2017 NBA Draft).
The last time the Sixers dealt a first-round pick that no longer fit–Nerlens Noel–they held ou as long as they could until they got a future first-round draft pick in return. Even with the injury history, Fultz’s stock around the league is likely higher than Noel’s was when he was dealt.
The Dallas Mavericks are likely to miss the playoffs again, and they owe the Hawks a top-five protected pick in 2019. It’s likely that the Sixers push for Atlanta to give them that pick in return for Fultz. While Atlanta clearly should swing for the fences at any chance they get, the question marks might outweigh the potential positives here.
DEAL OR NO DEAL?
OFFER: New Orleans Pelicans send F Solomon Hill & F Darius Miller to the Atlanta Hawks for G Jeremy Lin
Much like the proposed deal from the Portland Trail Blazers earlier, in this alleged trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, the pieces going back to the Hawks aren’t exactly top of the line prospects. The Pelicans don’t really have much in assets to deal away as they are one of the more top-heavy teams in the entire NBA.
Solomon Hill has yet to live up to the four-year, $48 million contract he was given by New Orleans gave him during the cap spike offseason of 2016. In terms of looks, Hill fits the mold of the type of player that all teams are chasing after nowadays. A versatile wing capable of playing either forward spot, Hill’s numbers have surely been a letdown.
Darius Miller has added value as a shooter for the Pelicans, but that’s about it. He made his way out of the G-League, but has only seen spot minutes due to the fact that he’s just a one-trick pony in the NBA. If his shot isn’t falling he doesn’t really offer much on the floor. He’s at 38.9 percent this season and 39.3 percent for his career from behind the arc.
This deal would be the definition of selling low on Lin as it is unlikely that either piece obtained in this move would be an improvement over DeAndre’ Bembry who’s resurrecting his career this season.
With Anthony Davis’ future in New Orleans up in the air the chances of getting valuable draft capital added into this deal are low. Most likely, the Pelicans would be willing to part with multiple second-round selections at most.
DEAL OR NO DEAL?