Atlanta Hawks: Should Frank Ntilikina Be Trade Target This Offseason?

Frank Ntilikina Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Frank Ntilikina Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images) /

A quick peek at a potential Frank Ntilikina trade the Atlanta Hawks could make with the New York Knicks.

With the offseason well under way for the Atlanta Hawks, now is the time to ponder how the team could be improved via roster moves and transaction – though the 2019 NBA Draft is still the most important way to build the team organically.

As has been stated previously, the biggest need the Hawks have is a defensive backcourt upgrade – even if it’s in a backup capacity. While Kevin Huerter showed some defensive upside, Trae Young simply lacks the necessary size to truly affect ballhandlers at the point of attack.

A recent Bleacher Report article by Grant Hughes outlines a potential trade with the New York Knicks this offseason that would allow the Hawks to acquire Frank Ntilikina. Here’s the trade:

In Hughes’s piece, he originally outline the Hawks obtaining a 2019 first round pick from New York, but they only have their own, and they have big, big plans for that pick as well. As such, the 2019 pick from Houston is actually a second-rounder, which is still fine. Even if it lands in the lower 50s, you never know if a diamond in the rough is awaiting the Hawks at #55 overall.

Though some Atlanta Hawks fans might scoff at trading Frankie Smokes for Taurean Prince straight-up, there are some good reasons why this makes sense. For one thing, Smokes is roughly 4 years younger than Prince, meaning he matches the youth-oriented timeline that the Hawks are working with.

Prince is clearly a far superior offensive player, but his fit with this current Hawks core was flawed from the start, as when he truly showed promise was as a team’s primary ballhandler. Perhaps he could serve as a solid bench option for a Knicks team that will likely have at least Kevin Durant on it next season.

Though Ntilikina suffered through an injury-riddled campaign in 2018-19, his defensive numbers in his rookie year were promising and his net rating even in the most recent season was positive (+4.4 per Cleaning the Glass).

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Losing Taurean would certainly be tough, but buying extremely low on a talented young defensive prospect makes a lot of sense for a defensively challenged team like Atlanta.