Atlanta Hawks NBA Trade Season Handbook for 2018-19

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 14: Jeremy Lin #7 of the Atlanta Hawks directs his team during the first quarter against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on December 14, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 14: Jeremy Lin #7 of the Atlanta Hawks directs his team during the first quarter against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on December 14, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

A primer on what the Atlanta Hawks might do come trade season.

It’s that time of the year again, NBA trade season is officially underway. From now until the February 7th deadline, you’ll be seeing enough bad Atlanta Hawks Trade Machine pitches from NBA Twitter to make your head spin.

For the second straight year, the Atlanta Hawks will be sellers instead of buyers, and have a few players who could become key additions to contending rosters. Kent Bazemore, who has been in trade rumors basically since he became a Hawk, is still the most likely to be shipped out but Jeremy Lin, Dewayne Dedmon and Alex Len are all possible as well.

Atlanta currently has the least amount of active cap in the league, with just over 78 million used, according to Spotrac, nearly half of the OKC Thunder, who narrowly edge out the Warriors for the most (144 mil).

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On paper, this would give the Hawks the most leeway from taking on big contacts for incentives from teams who want to shed cash, but two words stop this: Carmelo Anthony.

Atlanta acquired (and quickly bought out) Melo in late July. The Thunder were desperate to get rid of the former all-star who struggled as a third wheel in OKC and had one of the biggest contracts in the league. The Hawks had the money to make a deal work.

Now, even after accepting a small deduction for the buyout, he accounts for just under 1/4 of the Hawks total payroll – and he’s not even on the team (or any team).

Even after you factor in the Carmelo situation, only 6 teams are currently spending less than the Hawks right now, they just can’t take on any more money without getting rid of some of their own. there is little to no reason for a team trending towards 20 wins to go into the luxury tax.

This once again cements Lin and Bzemore as the most likely to end the season on a different team, as they own the biggest contracts among current Atlanta Hawks. Lin’s contract is expiring and contains a 10% trade kicker that would bump his cap hit to around 14 million. Bazemore is making 18.1 and has a player option for next season.

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The list of teams likely to be calling for Baze should be a bit longer, as more teams need to bolster their wing depth more than their point guards. Houston, New Orleans, Milwaukee, and even Sacramento could use the  3-and-D prowess of the 29-year old. What this means for the (great) “Winging It” Podcast I don’t know, but the team should be able to get at least a protected first for the veteran.

As for Lin, the Magic and Suns are in desperate need of a playmaker, but also aren’t likely pushing for the playoffs enough to make a deal. The 76ers are the likely front-runners right now, but all it take is one injury for contending teams to get desperate.

Lastly, the Hawks have 2 big men that are playing well, and likely aren’t going to be pieces of the rebuilding puzzle going forward. Len and Dedmon are both on modest contracts (Dedmon an expiring), and both could be looked at by teams in need of big bodies.

In addition, the expiring contracts of Lin and Dedmon make them potential targets of a buyout, just like Atlanta did last season with Marco Bellinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. This not only allows the player a chance to join a contender on a cheap deal, it lets the Atlanta Hawks drop some of their better players, giving them a better chance at a top pick in the draft.

The Hawks’ roster is very young, and likely have a list of “untouchables” longer than most teams. There is possible however for one of the young names to be thrown in as a “sweetener” in a potential deal. Tyler Dorsey, and the feisty Daniel Hamilton who are both struggling to get minutes in Lloyd Pierce’s system, are the most likely in this case.

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As February approaches, the rumor mill will only heat up, and the Hawks are likely to be busy during this trade season. Whether it’s the longest-tenured Hawk (Bazemore) or a new addition like Lin or Len, someone is likely getting shipped out of Atlanta. The only question is what will the Hawks get in return?