Why the Atlanta Hawks want the Charlotte Hornets to keep winning

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks are in a bit of a tricky situation with the play-in tournament and who is around them. They briefly rose to ninth in the Eastern Conference before losing to the Boston Celtics which moved them back into the tenth spot.

The team that they keep moving around is the Charlotte Hornets who own the first-round pick that the Hawks received from the New York Knicks as part of the Cam Reddish trade. However, there are heavy protections on the pick.

It is top 18 protected this season, top 16 protected in 2023, and then top 14 protected in 2024 and 2025. If the Hornets keep their picks in all of these drafts then it will convert to two second-round picks in 2026 and 2027. This is the joy of trading for a pick that comes from a third party with heavy protections.

The Atlanta Hawks will not currently get the pick this season

While the Hawks are in win-now mode despite the absolutely torrid start to this season, they are always looking for ways to improve their team. A first-round pick can be a valuable commodity for a team that is trying to attract a second genuine star to play alongside Trae Young.

The problem for the Hawks is that the Hornets are sitting in 17th in the current league standing s which means that the pick will stay with them. For this pick to work out this season the Hornets need to have a winning streak which has them challenging for a playoff position and it is really hard to see that happening.

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The impact of this is that if Kevin Knox does not work out and goes elsewhere next season, then the Hawks effectively gave up Reddish for nothing this season. This is not what the franchise would have had in mind when they made the trade but these things happen in the NBA.