Team’s rumored interest in Atlanta Hawks’ $46M big man ‘a bit exaggerated’

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Jacob Gonzalez-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Jacob Gonzalez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks and Minnesota Timberwolves have been linked in rumors more than one might think. Dejounte Murray’s trade had a potential ripple effect on what the Timberwolves could offer for Rudy Gobert, possibly forcing their hand. But there was also reported interest in Hawks big man Clint Capela.

In a bit of a surprising move, the Wolves opted for a dual-big approach pairing Gobert with Karl-Anthony Towns.

Their exploratory efforts to solve their rim protection had included Capela, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania (subscription required). While a deal never happened, Capela’s name coming up was a bit of a surprise.

But just how close were they to actually working a deal out?

The Atlanta Hawks’ conversations with the Timberwolves about Clint Capela overblown

Charania’s mention of Capela came and went amid an earlier update of the situation brewing with the Brooklyn Nets. But it made sense given the Hawks were “determined to free up minutes” for Onyeka Okongwu, per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer. However, that plan may have to come via another avenue.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe was recapping the events leading to the Gobert trade with The Athletic’s Jon Kawczynski on the “Lowe Post” podcast when he put the Capela-to-Minnesota rumor to bed.

“We discussed…the Timberwolves sniffing around rim-protecting centers. Whether it was Clint Capela – I heard that was a little bit exaggerated, or [Gobert].”

That’s it. The lack of an update could be an indicator of how little traction such a discussion actually got. Capela was previously one of the “untouchables” in trade talks. That status appeared to change at the last update on who is a part of the “core”.

He is still close with Young.

Lowe went on to express surprise over the Wolves’ choice of blockbuster trades given their reported interest in Dejounte Murray and efforts to move on from D’Angelo Russell.

“I kind of thought [Murray] would be the move. That upgrade at point guard, because the D’Lo thing didn’t appear to be working.”

He went on to note the difference in cap savings between Gobert (nearly $170 million) and Murray (just over $42 million). Both teams paid a hefty price in draft capital for their big swings, though.

Capela had the fourth-best on-off differential among Hawks with at least 1000 non-garbage-time minutes, per Cleaning the Glass.

The Hawks also still have yet to find a new home for forward John Collins whose relationship with the organization has been reported to be beyond repair. As it stands, the only rotation players the Hawks have given away were Danilo Gallinari and Kevin Huerter in separate deals.

Both Gorgui Dieng and Delon Wright signed elsewhere in free agency.

Barring any other moves, the Hawks will straddle the lines between an overhaul and tweaking the roster.

Lowe went on to say, despite all that they have already done, they might want to keep going.

“Now you have these teams who are not one piece away from championship equity…The Hawks are emphatically not one piece away.”

That part of the discussion, which included how ownership groups try to placate stars leading to rash decisions, should hit home. The Hawks took a step back last season after refraining from making major changes.

It is possible that they need to do even more to earn another ECF berth.

Next. Hawks fans react to blockbuster trade for Dejounte Murray. dark

But, they also have arguably the best roster of Trae Young’s career even with Huerter now in Sacramento. That is also worth exploring.