Atlanta Hawks decision ranks among ‘most underrated’ moves of offseason

Former Indiana Pacer, Justin Holiday walks the red carpet during the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.Finals 17
Former Indiana Pacer, Justin Holiday walks the red carpet during the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.Finals 17 /

This summer, the Atlanta Hawks stole the show by completing a veritable blockbuster trade sending three unprotected first-round picks (one of which being a swap) to the San Antonio Spurs for Dejounte Murray. The All-Star gives them another defender and playmaker next to two-time All-Star, Trae Young.

That is not the deal that is being considered “terrific” or the “most underrated”, an honor that goes to their surprising trade of fourth-year wing Kevin Huerter to the Sacramento Kings for a package of players, picks, and cap relief.

They got a package in return for a player that they signed to a contract extension last summer.

When adding in the context that the deal followed Murray’s, it looks even better says one NBA analyst.

Kevin Huerter trade considered Atlanta Hawks “most underrated” offseason move

Huerter signed a sizeable contract extension last October following some impressive performances in the Hawks’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021. He stood out, in particular, with a spectacular performance during Game 7 of the Conference Semi-Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The 6-foot-7 wing shot career-highs from the floor (45.4%) and three-point range (38.9%) and started 60 games, also a career-high.

Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz says, even with that, Atlanta was wise to move on now.

“Huerter is a good player, but he was about to become an expensive backup behind Murray. He’s heading into the first season of a four-year, $65 million extension, which the Hawks should have been eager to dump with De’Andre Hunter needing to get paid next summer and Murray likely requiring a max deal in 2024.”

Hunter and the Hawks were roughly “$20 million” apart on a new contract extension, though the length of the deal appears to be agreed upon at four years. Of course, everything is fluid and there were reports Hunter wanted up to $100 million.

Murray’s current contract structure makes extending him a virtual impossibility.

Given the financial constraints that the luxury tax-averse Hawks are about to put themselves in – John Collins’ new five-year, $125 million contract starts this season – the Hawks got value.

“Getting a first-rounder (especially from the Kings) was terrific value, even if the pick is lottery-protected in 2024, top-12-protected in 2025, and top-10-protected in 2026. If it hasn’t conveyed by then, the Kings will send 2026 and 2027 second-rounders instead.”

The Hawks, Swartz argues, not only recouped a pick lost in the Murray trade. But they also gained a valuable trade asset.

Their windfall was not just in draft capital, either.

Kevin Huerter reacts to being traded from Hawks. light. Related Story

[Justin] Holiday is also a nice addition, as Atlanta needs all of the wing defenders it can get around Trae Young. He should be in the rotation and is on an expiring $6.3 million deal. [Maurice] Harkless was out of place as a starter in Sacramento last season, but he can still be another solid reserve for the Hawks.”

Even when removing sentimentality from the decision, the Hawks got rid of one of the more valuable pieces – on both ends – in Huerter.

But they ultimately come out better for it, Swartz concludes.

“Cutting payroll, picking up a pair of wing stoppers, and getting a first-round pick after trading away three was a terrific move as a follow-up to the Murray deal.”

We will have to wait for the season to play out to see if the Hawks made the right call. The expectations are high for this group even if they didn’t land Kevin Durant.

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The Huerter trade ranked fifth on Swartz’s list. But it could certainly climb higher when looking back depending on what happens with that draft pick.