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.
Kent Bazemore’s name has been the most consistent in trade rumors all season. As a versatile wing veteran, Bazemore checks a lot of the boxes in the type of player that most teams are looking to add to their roster. The 29-year-old has a $19 million player option for 2019-20 that he is very likely to pick up this summer so any team that attempts to get him out of Atlanta will be committed to him beyond this year.
After beginning the season as a starter, the rapid development of rookie Kevin Huerter (along with Bazemore sustaining an injury to his right ankle–which has kept him out for the last month of action) meant that the Hawks would transition him to a role off the bench. Any team that trades for Bazemore is likely to use him similarly as a spark off the bench.
With the trade deadline a week away, Bazemore’s return to action against the Sacramento Kings is a good signal to the rest of the league that he’s successfully recovered from the ankle injury. Now is the time for teams to pounce on him and there’s a few that have long had eyes for Bazemore.
For Atlanta, Bazemore has been nothing short of exemplary during his stint with the franchise, but it seems like now is the best opportunity for both parties to part ways and head in opposite directions. Bazemore gets a shot at immediate postseason play while the Hawks attempt to accrue assets to help complete their current rebuild.
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.
Houston Rockets trade G Brandon Knight & F/C Isaiah Hartenstein to the Atlanta Hawks for G Kent Bazemore
Ever since their early-season struggles, the Houston Rockets and Kent Bazemore have been linked together at seemingly every turn. It makes sense. Bazemore is one of the few players labeled as “3-and-D” players that actually brings both the three and defense to the floor night-in and night-out.
With Trevor Ariza and Luc Richard Mbah Moute leaving in the offseason and the Carmelo Anthony experiment blowing up in their faces, the Rockets couldn’t certainly use as much perimeter help as they can find if they want to give the Golden State Warriors a battle for Western Conference supremacy again this spring.
Bazemore is easily an upgrade over the parade of two-way and 10-day contract wings that Houston has had in and out of their lineup all season. A Chris Paul-James Harden-Bazemore-PJ Tucker-Clint Capela closing lineup is a quintet that I could definitely see the Rockets rolling out religiously in the playoffs.
In return, they allow Brandon Knight to continue to heal from offseason knee surgery on his left knee in September. For Knight, that was the second knee surgery he’s had in his career. When he’s on the floor he’s a guard capable of getting into the lane to create havoc and also being a threat from the perimeter too. Knight seemed like a perfect fit for the D’Antoni Rockets before a surgery left his status for this year up in the air.
Isaiah Hartenstein is an intriguing young big, capable of stretching the floor from the perimeter and also skilled enough to score in the post against mismatches. Not a bad prospect to possibly take a flier on for the Hawks.
DEAL OR NO DEAL?
Indiana Pacers trade G Cory Joseph. C Kyle O’Quinn, & F T.J. Leaf to the Atlanta Hawks for G Kent Bazemore
With All-Star guard Victor Oladipo out for the season after suffering a nasty injury on the 24th, the Indiana Pacers find themselves in an in-between state. With Oladipo, they had amassed the third best record in the East and were holding their own against the likes of the Milwaukee’s, Toronto’s, Philadelphia’s, and Boston’s of the conference; considered to be true title contenders. Without Oladipo, this team teeters down to borderline playoff group.
The Pacers were very likely to be aggressively shopping for deals around the deadline that would’ve helped cement them as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Now, they must decide what path they want to take for the remainder of this year without their best player. A year ago, this would be an easy choice as Indiana plummeted to 0-7 in games Oladipo missed during the 2017-18 season. This year, the Pacers are at a respectable 7-7 when Oladipo sits.
As they attempt to try and hold on to home court positioning in the Eastern Conference playoff race adding a solid player like Bazemore could help this team continue to keep their head above water with Oladipo out. Indiana would likely turn to Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis for more scoring in their new offensive hierarchy and bringing in a capable shooter like Bazemore could make opposing teams pay for trying to double team either in the post.
Meanwhile, the Hawks would bring in a solid backup point guard on an expiring to likely replace a traded Jeremy Lin. A well-respected locker room presence and inside-out big man in Kyle O’Quinn and take a flier on former first-round pick T.J. Leaf. A fine trio that seemingly align with what the team should be looking for at the deadline. Yet, with the team losing Oladipo so recently, it’s hard to tell what objectives the Pacers’ front office will be after for the rest of the year throwing a wrench into this potential move.
DEAL OR NO DEAL?
Milwaukee Bucks trade G Tony Snell & F/C Thon Maker to the Atlanta Hawks for Kent Bazemore
The Milwaukee Bucks know a thing or two about bringing in someone from the Atlanta Hawks organization and seeing that person make an immediate impact for the Bucks. In his first season with Milwaukee, head coach Mike Budenholzer has transformed this team and has them in contention to end the year as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.
With that in mind, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see the Bucks return to the well with Atlanta and make a move at the trade deadline. Milwaukee’s turnaround has been spearheaded by the trio of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and (contract year) Eric Bledsoe. Brook Lopez turning into the seven-foot knockdown shooter–shooting 39 percent on 6.5 three-point attempts per game–doesn’t hurt either.
Despite the Bucks attempting nearly 40 three-pointers per game (37.7 three-point attempts per game, second only to the Houston Rockets) they’re connecting on 35 percent, which ranks 15th overall in the league. Bringing in someone who could help raise them out of league-average purgatory should be high on Milwaukee’s front office’s wish list going into the trade deadline.
Though he’s not having his best outside shooting season, Bazemore’s 33.1 percent ranks higher than Bledsoe, George Hill, Pat Connaughton, and rookie Donte DiVincenzo. Bazemore also brings the continuity of already having played for Budenholzer so he wouldn’t need to learn a new offensive system. In actuality, he could probably even help some of their current players better understand what Budenholzer is looking for.
Thon Maker has let it be known that he wants out of Milwaukee in order to find a new team that will have a larger role for him. The 21-year-old has been inconsistent in his first two seasons, but showed flashes of promise that Atlanta could hope to pry out. Yet, Tony Snell at $10 million a year for two more seasons is likely to high a price tag to make this deal go through in the end.
DEAL OR NO DEAL?