The Atlanta Hawks could revisit an old idea in their efforts to improve this offseason by pursuing a trade for embattled Brooklyn Nets guard, Ben Simmons. Coming off of a 4-1 first-round defeat to the Miami Heat, the Hawks have stated a desire to get longer and better on the defensive end.
Simmons provides just that along with the playmaking that Atlanta’s decision-makers desire to diversify their attack…in theory.
He just had back surgery after not playing a single minute this season. In fact, the last time we saw Simmons on a basketball court in a moment of consequence, he was passing up a layup in Game 7 of a 2021 first-round playoff matchup versus the Hawks.
If healthy, Simmons is what the Hawks need, writes Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley.
The Atlanta Hawks may need to revisit a deal for Ben Simmons this offseason
Simmons to the Hawks was a hot topic at the trade deadline with the Hawks reportedly engaging in discussions with the Philadelphia 76ers. Atlanta pulled out of the talks when Philly insisted on including Tobias Harris in the deal, per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer. We also got the framework of an offer from the Hawks via The Action Network’s Matt Moore.
Now, on the heels of the Nets organization losing between $50-$100 million this past season and Simmons’ lack of contributions, perhaps Brooklyn is more willing to play ball than the 76ers were.
The pairing of Young, the league’s only player to average 25 points and nine assists this season (and last), and Simmons, arguably the Association’s most versatile defender, remains fascinating on paper. Each has a razor-sharp strength that could help cover the other’s glaring weakness, and they could make magic together in transition and pick-and-rolls.
Atlanta was not a heavy transition team, something brass has admitted could need to change going forward. But Young was fourth in the regular season in play frequency as the pick-and-roll ball-handler.
Simmons has not been used much as a roll man and only generated 0.87 points per play. But his playmaking would add a different dimension.
Capela is a great roll man ranking 14th in possessions per contest and fifth among players averaging at least 3.0 such possessions during the regular season in generating 1.20 PPP.
Part of the issue with the offer that was initially reported from the Hawks to Philly was potentially pairing Simmons with another non-shooter in Clint Capela in the frontcourt. Buckley solves that issue while explaining what the new look would open up.
If the Hawks get Simmons healthy and back up to speed, they’d have both their second star and the shut-down defender this roster needs. Pairing him with John Collins up front and having Kevin Huerter and De’Andre Hunter on the wings would give this group all kinds of length, athleticism, shooting, and finishing around Young.
Those lineups were only a plus-0.4 for the Hawks during the regular season, per Cleaning the Glass, but were plus-4.0 when Capela was the fifth man.
Capela led the league in rebounds last season. But Simmons is a three-time All-Star, two-time All-Defensive selection, and was
All-NBA in 2020.
That the Hawks would also land guard Cam Thomas in Buckley’s proposal is a welcome bonus. Thomas averaged 8.5 points on 51.9% true shooting as a rookie while displaying the ability to create offense for himself.
The benefit for the Nets is getting deeper while the Hawks make the consolidation trade some have expected since last season.
Capela, who turns 28 on May 18, was off-limits in trade talks at one point this season. But that could have always had more to do with the extension he signed last offseason that pays him $22.9 million through 2025 than anything else.
Simmons turns 26 on July 20 and is also signed through 2025. His deal will pay him roughly $38 million per season over the remaining duration.
And the talk of imminent change hasn’t seemed to exclude anyone but Young.
We could find out soon enough if this option to acquire Simmons is indeed on the table for the Hawks this time around. That is if his back checks out. of course.